Are Israelis and American Jews 'One'?

But before this gets too acrid, Oren the diplomat again intervenes, saying he “had to remind myself that [the] solid majority of [American] Jews still stood united behind our State,” and he recounts a pleasant experience at an American synagogue.

But, again, cheerful, accommodating Oren can’t hold the stage for long. Ending his “We Are One?” section on a note of bitterness and foreboding, Oren writes that as the Iranian nuclear program continued to progress during the Obama years, “American Jews for the most part remained impassive.” When he tries to get American rabbis to “address the Iranian threat in their sermons,” they give him the cold shoulder, calling the issue “too divisive.”

What sort of “oneness” is there when a community feels itself to be under an existential threat, and the other -- for the most part -- can’t seem to get overly concerned about it, and continues to back the president whose policies keep making the threat worse?

I am, of course, sympathetic to the view Michael Oren sets forth in Ally. I moved to Israel from the U.S. five years after he did. Gradually the place gets under your skin. Along with the many aspects that instill pride, there’s a sense of loneliness; the feeling that -- it was, after all, the driving force behind Zionism -- Jews are on their own and will have to look out for themselves.

No doubt, as Michael Oren knows well and describes in his book, the U.S.-Israeli alliance is still strong, and many American Jews still support Israel (some, mainly on the conservative side, even make an effort to understand it). But it remains a nasty world. How nice to think that “we are one.”

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