When we view the concept of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, what comes into focus are its supporters. A major supporter is American Jews. But when looking closer at this segment of the population, it is not always speaking in one voice. So looking at the reasons is extremely important. Let us see what the Harris Poll says about American Jews:
55% are married to non-Jews.
16% go to a synagogue at least once a month.
42% go at least once a year.
42% do not go at all.
So nearly half do not attend a synagogue, when a synagogue is a house of assembly, a house of worship, and a house of study. So in other words, they are not getting a Halachic education.
The Jewish Theological Seminary reported a staggering 98% do not know Hebrew -- the language of liturgy.
Only 15% keep a kosher kitchen.
So it looks as though American Jews, are just Jews in name only, like German-American, Italian-American, Irish-American, etc. But culture is a learned behavior, and American Jews seem not to be learning their culture.
So let us look back at the history of this happening. American Jews have been in what is now the United States since the 17th century C.E. At first they were Sephardim, in the aftermath of the expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula. Before the 1880's, they were primarily from present-day Germany, but during the 1880's came the explosion of Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazim mostly from the Russian Empire. Who the majority of American Jews are descendants of today. Like all immigrants, they lived in their own quarter of the city, Yiddish was the language of the media and entertainment, the community was based around the synagogue, or in Yiddish shul. Like Europe, they were viewed with suspicion by the surrounding population. This suspicion was to continue with residency requirements, school quotas, and at times violence, like the lynching of Leo Frank in 1915. When refugees were trying to get out of Fascist dominated Europe during the 1930's and 1940's, they could not enter the United States, despite stringent protest by Eleanor Roosevelt and former President Herbert Hoover. When ships arrived in American harbors full of Jewish refugees, they were forced to return back to Europe. It subsided a bit after World War II, but was to rear its head again with McCarthyism from 1950 to 1956, and was aggravated even more with the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953, on charges of espionage for the Soviet Union. The United States was in a "Red Scare," and Jews were viewed as potential Communist spies. They were blacklisted by Hollywood, and American Jews I knew who lived in the 1950's, told me you did not let anyone know you were Jewish, because it was viewed as a potential Communist spy.
In the 1960's, things changed. First with the civil rights movement, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, but great social upheaval from the unpopular Vietnam War. Revolutionary organizations were arising like the Weathermen Underground and Students for a Democratic Society. Despite the Civil Rights Act, racism was still very deeply entrenched in American society, so the Black Panthers came forward in the nation's social upheaval. But a New York rabbi, Martin Kahane was to come up with the Jewish equivalent of the Black Panthers, with the Jewish Defense League which he founded in 1968. But the hostility towards American Jews was not there at the time, so he changed his name to Meir Kahane and preached radical right-wing support of Israel, and vehement hatred towards anything Arab and Muslim. He found a following in both the United States and Israel. In Israel, he founded the Kach Party, which eventually got banned by the Israeli Supreme Court. While in Israel, Irv Rubin took over as President of the Jewish Defense League. In 2001, Rubin was arrested on conspiracy changes for attempting to kill American Muslims and Americans of Arab descent, such as Californian Congressman Darrell Issa, who is of Lebanese descent. While awaiting trial, Irv Rubin committed suicide in his jail cell in 2002. Kahane was assassinated in New York City in 1990, but 150,000 attended his funeral in Jerusalem. Despite Kahane being an ordained rabbi, who graduated from the Mir Yeshiva, and a scholar on the Tanakh and Talmud, his following is not due to his scholarship, but his radical politics. Which leads us back to the present-day status of American Jews. It is not what they know about their culture, but their identity comes from espousing radical right-wing support of Israel. As long as this remains their identity, then they will be a lost generation.
Here is an address line by Chabad on keeping a kosher kitchen:
Chabad deals with strictly community outreach. The only time they really took a political position, was coming out against the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Most American Jews shun away from Chabad, because of their Orthodoxy. But Chabad is vehemently against homosexuality. Many synagogues are trying to increase their membership by reaching out to gays and lesbians. Even offering separate Shabbat services for them. One rabbi was very publicized in attaching mezuzot to the homes of same-sex couples. Personally, I do not make it any of my concern what adults do behind closed doors. But when people told me you prove your Jewishness by vehemently hating Arabs and Muslims, I found that very disturbing. Because a spade is a spade, it is prejudice.
This is a lecture by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon entitled "Proving the Torah: It can and should be done." Unfortunately, we had people removed from this website, who never quoted anything in the Torah, but claimed their Jewishness by spewing hatred towards anything Arab and Muslim:
(Personal note: My maternal grandfather's name was Yaakov.)
Tikkun Olam -- Repairing the world. Not tearing it apart with bigotry and prejudice. It is found in the Mishnah, the prayer Aleinu, it is a mitzvah, and it is a part of Shabbat. If we do not practice Tikkun Olam, then we are in big trouble.
Dear Mr. Tim,
I fully appreciate your noble feeling toward your people, but According to that statistics (only) which you referred in your article, kindly pay attention that:
I wrote this up, because the major players in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations are going to be American Jews. While many American Jews are supporters of it, such as J Street getting in all major political parties in Israel to drum up support for these negotiations, there will be opposition. We had such people on this website, who advocated forced removal of Palestinians from the West Bank, so Judea and Samaria can all be settled by Jews. A great deal of those settlers are American Jews who performed aliyah. But these were American Jews sitting in the warm, comfortable, and safe United States. They kept telling me there is nothing Jewish about me, if you do not go along with this. I am Jewish by the skin of my teeth. When I was growing up there was no bar mitzvah, nor celebrating of Jewish holidays. The only thing I knew, was that I was the product of a Jewish mother. So as an adult, I learned what being a Jew was all about. I became shocked and appalled by these so-called "on-line Jews." Because they did not know what a Siddur was, the contents of it, and what the Tanakh and Talmud even had to say. Their explanation was that being Jewish is genetic, but my reply was "but hate is not genetic." Their response was but Muslims hate us. The cycle of hate has to be broken, and the only way it can be broken, is if we look into ourselves.