Think Tank Warns Israel Is Losing Support of Young American Jews

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Jewish People Policy Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank, has given a warning to the Israeli cabinet via JPPI Co-Chairman Dennis Ross and President Avinoam Bar-Yosef.

According to the JPPI’s findings:

The liberal, Reform, Conservative and secular parts of the American Jewish community may become more distant from Israel as the country’s demography becomes more Orthodox and nationalistic …

Bar-Yosef explained that while there is significant support for Israel in North America, it isn’t compensating for “the young generation of liberal and secular American Jews [which] is increasingly critical of the Jewish state, and concerned that Israeli society is becoming more religious and more right wing.”

The JPPI is not the first to sound the alarm; others have been making similar warnings for years (read here and here).

Israel, it should be pointed out, is diverse, and generalizing about it is tricky. Those looking for liberalism could find it at the 2016 Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, in which 200,000 Israelis and foreign visitors took part. Tel Aviv is the focal point of Israeli secularism and political leftism (or what’s left of it) -- but here, however, is a report on female pilots in the Israeli air force, including combat pilots and combat navigators. Also, here is an article covering Israel’s first transgender army officer, addressing a Gay Pride Month event at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

Israel is not exactly a hidebound, ultraconservative society.

On the other hand, young, liberal American Jews observing Israel are noticing ideas they reject.

For instance, the current Israeli governing coalition includes three religious parties -- one Orthodox and two ultra-Orthodox -- which comprise 21 of the Knesset’s 66 seats. Right-of-center governments have been elected three times consecutively since 2009, and in most elections since 1977. Polls consistently show the vast majority of Israeli Jews affiliating with the political right or center -- and as few as eight percent affiliating with the left. Israeli Jews consistently give very low ratings to Barack Obama, who for many young, liberal American Jews remains a revered figure.

With these realities, it may seem understandable that young Americans feel alienated from the Jewish state. However, the notion carries a contradiction.