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Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
August 2023

“For many liberal American Jews, this most extreme right-wing government in  
Israel’s history is a test of long-held assumptions or beliefs,” writes Emily  
Tankin in The New Republic (March 7, 2023).  
She notes that, “This moment is a potential eye-opening turning point for liberal  
American Jews. In this…government—-which includes a member who brags that he is  
a homophobe and fascist, which wants only to expand the settlements and doesn’t  
even pay lip service to the idea of peace—-too much for liberal American Jews to  
swallow? Is liberal American Jewish support for Israel dying?”  
In Tankin’s view, the new government is forcing liberal Jewish Americans to  
reassess their support for Israel over the past several decades, ever since the  
occupation began in 1967 and Israel moved to the political right in the following  
decade. “Some American Jews,” she writes, “are now confronting, more fully than  
ever before, the possibility that this extremist government is less outlier than  
culmination of a process that has been unfolding in Israel for a very long time.”  
She cites Shaul Magid, professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, who says  
that, “The fundamental question all of us have to confront is: is this  
government an aberration, or is this government a logical outcome of what’s been  
going on for the last 50 years.” He then put it another way. “How could this be  
happening?” he asked. He immediately answered his own question: “It was always  
After the election of the right-wing government, the American Jewish Committee  
congratulated Prime Minister Netanyahu. AIPAC offered similar congratulations,  
saying that, “Once again the Jewish state has demonstrated as a robust democracy  
with the freedoms that Americans also cherish.” Tankin points to the fact that,  
“the majority of American Jews lean liberal, roughly 70% identify with or lean  
toward the Democratic Party…The current Israeli government, of course, is not  
liberal (and in fact has abandoned any pretense of liberalism or even  
She quotes a number of Jewish leaders who are dismayed about developments in  
Israel. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, describes  
certain figures in and policies of the current Israeli government as “literally  
at odds with how we understand Judaism and democracy.” He says that, “Everyone  
I’ve talked with in the non-Orthodox community…are quite concerned, if not  
Hadar Susskind, president of Americans for Peace Now, said that, “I think what’s  
happening is that a lot of people—-U.S. Jews in this particular case, though it  
extends beyond that—-are waking up to an Israeli government that’s fundamentally  
different than anything We’ve seen before.”  
Tankin reports about Hasia Diner, a professor of American Jewish History at New  
York University, and a one-time Zionist, who wrote in Haaretz in 2016 renouncing  
Zionism: “Well, what we were taught, what we have propagated and what we have  
written is kind of built on a house of sand. You can’t have an oppression of one  
part of the population and have democracy. It’s going to come back and bite you  
on the neck.” According to Diner, her rejection of Zionism and support for  
Israel “signals a broader trend in the American Jewish community.” There is, she  
declares, “a growing gap between American Jewish leaders and the people for whom  
they claim to speak.” **

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