A recent New York Times article “A Conflict of Faith: Devoted to Jewish Observance, but at Odds With Israel” illustrates the luxurious nature of American Jewish life. The article provides a tiny sample of self-proclaimed observant American Jews (“As a religious Jew” one of them declares modestly) who announce that they care about Palestinian human rights (a good cause that is entirely independent of religion. This just in: atheists can be for human rights too). These observant Jews support a boycott of Israel or oppose the nature of the current Jewish state.
Advocating for a boycott of Israel is cheap talk....
Cheap, because Jews elsewhere do not have such a luxury. American Jews can have frivolous views without penalty. By contrast, in France, which I recently visited, there are overtly anti-Semitic movements, people march down the street shouting Vichy and anti-Semitic slogans, and the Jews are politically marginal. The neo-fascists in France are polling at 20% (neo-fascists because “extreme right” is too feeble a term). More and more French Jews are considering aliyah to escape a society in which they are under pressure and the dire euro economy. French Jews need a state of Israel as a haven. They do not have the luxury of using the Jewish state as an intellectual punching bag.
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg z”l used to say that the holiest site in Israel is not the kotel but the arrivals hall at Ben Gurion airport. Why? Because it is the only place in the world where they will never say that they will accept no more Jews. Most Jews still need a state, even if some American Jews don’t.