Monday, March 23, 2009

Lieberman and American Jews

Matthew Yglesias notes American Jews' reactions to Avigdor Lieberman:
"In J Street’s new poll of American Jewish opinion, they found that 'When told about Lieberman’s campaign slogan requiring Arab citizens of Israel to sign loyalty oaths and his threats against Arab Members of Knesset, American Jews opposed these positions by a 69 to 31 margin. One in three believe their own connection to Israel will be diminished, if Lieberman assumes a senior position in the Israeli cabinet.'"

Obviously I don't have stats, but the sense I get from pro-Israel college students I know is that they consider Avigdor Lieberman an unacceptable choice for a high post in Israel's government, though it remains to be seen whether this will concretely affect their actions. I doubt people in Israel fully realize how this plays abroad. As this Imshin post suggests, lots of Israelis see him as simply a natural part of the political landscape. Israelis have lived through a slow deterioration of Jewish-Arab relations in their country, and the right-wing nationalism in the ascendant is more than likely to call attention to the internal Other as well as perceived threats from abroad. Many American Jews, however, know only approximately what hasbara types want them to know. This does not include deep and virulent internal social fissures that give rise to a political actor whose presentation goes against the ideals their American upbringing has led them to value. Many such people, and I'm thinking mainly of college students those just a little older whom I know, base their loyalty to Israel on a belief that it embodies those values, and as it strays from the path, a decline in that loyalty is inevitable.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like to think I know a little more on this subject than what the hasbara types tell me, but I'd be among the American Jews who consider Lieberman totally unacceptable. For me, he symbolizes the type of nihilism and anomie to which Israel has seemed, in the last couple of years, to be increasingly succumbing. He offers fascism at home and eternal war abroad. His way would be a disaster for Israel and its neighbors. This is a path that Israel doesn't have to follow, and when someone like Lieberman eggs it on for his own personal aggrandizement, he's playing with the future of everyone in the region.

All right. Rant over. But I don't think American Jews' problem with Lieberman is due to the mask falling or anything else so fancy - it's due to Lieberman.

8:11 PM  

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