In the Canadian National Post, Jeet Heer writes a column about younger Jews being increasingly critical of Israel, mentioning the writing of Ezra, Matt Yglesias, Spencer Ackerman, and myself. Heer does something I like. While Philip Weiss has done some great work documenting younger Jews' skepticism toward Israel's recent actions, Weiss describes this nascent movement with two terms that discomfit me: "non-Zionism" and "anti-Zionism."
Heer calls us "post-Zionist," and that just sits better with me. "Anti-Zionism" is not always anti-Semitic, but it sometimes is. "Non-Zionism" implies a lack of support for Israel in any form. Post-Zionism, I think, acknowledges Zionism's place in modern Jewish history while urging a pretty radical rethinking of the Zionist project itself -- and whether the actions of today's Israeli government, and its Diaspora supporters, are really best suited to accomplish the original Zionist goal of making the world and the Promised Land safer for Jews.
Events like the war in Gaza are likely to intensify the post-Zionism of young Jews. In the public debate in America, it is striking that the strongest supporters of Israel tend to be writers like Alan Dershowitz (age 70), Marty Peretz (also 70) and William Kristol (a sprightly 56). As against this Geritol brigade, a group of young Jewish writers, many of them working for progressive think-tanks that are helping to shape the Obama administration, have been admirably sharp-witted in attacking the Gaza offensive as a moral and strategic failure. ...
Why are young Jews so harsh in their criticism of Israel? The only honest answer is Israel's terrible human rights record. The wanton slaughter in Gaza is merely the latest in a long litany of Israeli atrocities, all of which help the Jewish state win some short-term victories while making long-term peace impossible. If Israel is to survive it needs to listen to these critical voices, rather than the false friends who urge a continuation of the cycle of violence and retribution.And if Israel doesn't listen to its critics in the Diaspora, then it will face a friendless future.
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