Study Debunks Crisis of Zionism Myth (COMMENTARY MAGAZINE) Omri Ceren 04/02/12)
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The Jewish People Policy Institute has just published a new paper by
Shmuel Rosner and Inbal Hakman on the so-called Distancing
Hypothesis, analyzing “trends of distancing and… policy proposals for
strengthening the attachment of young American Jews to Israel in the
time of the distancing discourse.” The 53-page PDF comprehensively
evaluates current surveys, contains 77 footnotes, walks the reader
through dizzying charts, and is worth reading just for the appendices.
The authors outline a series of straightforward recommendations,
including an emphasis on the methodological and normative value of
discussing “attachment” rather than “distancing.” Along the way they
There is no conclusive evidence of an erosion of U.S. Jewry’s
attachment to Israel. On the contrary, the studies that included a
longitudinal comparative examination indicate a sustained and even
increased level of attachment. In short, there is no evidence of
distancing as compared to the past.
The findings are in line with the consensus of polling and trends in
American-Jewish philanthropy, to say nothing of the near-universal
rejection of Peter Beinart’s call to economically suffocate Israeli
communities he doesn’t like while funding Israelis who live where he
wants them to.
The exception proving that rule has been Lara Friedman of Americans
for Peace Now, who embraced Beinart’s call after returning from a
vicious anti-Israel hatefest at which she and her organization were
on the speaker list. Her participation in that conference was as out
of the mainstream as her support for Beinart.
On the other side, for example, is liberal Tablet editor-in-chief
Alana Newhouse. Last week, Newhouse wrote in the Washington Post that
Beinart’s book and campaign have “ruined his chance to be a leader
for many” progressive American Jews. She specifically pointed out
what might be called Beinart’s epistemic solipsism, noting that his
book “offers little in the way of personal reporting on the Israelis
or the Palestinians themselves” and relies instead on secondary
sources and his impressions of same.
Newhouse’s comment is not the first time Beinart’s lack of enthusiasm
for field reporting has raised eyebrows. But his habit of taking
what’s inside his head and generalizing outward extends beyond his
research and analysis, and into his entire ethical case against
Israel. He condemns Israel’s presence beyond the Green Line on
account of the toll it takes on his conscience. He blasts Israeli
self-defense campaigns because they complicate conversations with his
child. And he’s personally haunted by the audio tracks of YouTube
videos showing Israeli police actions, so he declares that Zionism is
Not so much, it turns out.
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