American Jews Israel

The next time someone tells you not to criticize Israel…

Instructive tidbit from today’s Haaretz:

Poll: More than half of Israelis support Diaspora Jews’ right to criticize Israel

By Amiram Barkat

More than half of Israeli Jews support the right of Diaspora Jews to criticize Israel on particular issues, according to a recent survey by the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

The survey found that a quarter of Israeli Jews think it is fine for Diaspora Jews to criticize Israel no matter what, while 35 percent said such criticism was acceptable, but only to a certain extent.

World Union president Rabbi Uri Regev said he was surprised to discover the extent to which Israelis are open to Diaspora Jews’ involvement in issues viewed as Israeli. He said the survey shows that a high percentage of Israeli Jews believe in global Jewish participation under the formula suggested by the Reform movement.

The World Union’s 33rd international convention, which was held in Jerusalem, ended Monday with the presentation of the honorary title of Maggid to Israeli author Amos Oz.

The award was created to recognize prominent members of the arts whose work embodies the core Jewish values of the World Union, the international umbrella organization of the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist movements.

Meanwhile, the World Union survey found that 60 percent of the representative sample of 501 Israeli Jews said they had an ongoing connection with Diaspora Jews and that 73 percent said Israel should take the views of Diaspora Jews into account, to varying degrees, when deciding religion-state issues such as conversion and the Law of Return.

A vast majority of respondents – 82 percent – said Israel should invest resources in Jewish education abroad, and 47 percent said Israel must help Jews in distress no matter what. Some 45 percent said that Israel should help Jews in distress in general terms, but that the particular circumstances of each case must be taken into consideration.

The assistance works both ways, however: Some 86 percent of the respondents said Jews around the world should continue to contribute to Israel. That position flies in the face of a suggestion by Meretz-Yachad chairman MK Yossi Beilin that Israel should stop collecting money abroad because it is an independent country that does not need donations.

7 thoughts on “The next time someone tells you not to criticize Israel…

  1. While I happen to have thought that criticizing Israeli policy was ok in the diaspora(I have since made Aliyah rendering the point moot), you must crunch the numbers.

    75% of Israelis according to this poll say that there are limits on the criticism

    And 50% of Israelis also say you should not criticize at all.

    Well the left has an opening to criticize Israeli policy now, because of the anti-disengagement movement in the diaspora, but it doesn’t mean that Israelis think it is fine.

  2. Seraphya,

    You’re right about the meaning of the numbers. One shouldn’t exaggerate the willingness of Israelis to listen to the judgments of Diaspora Jews about anything. I’ve got enough friends and family in Israel to realize that:)

    But I was surprised at how many Israelis believe that Jews like me have a right to weigh in on at least some matters. The numbers show a connection between us, a sense of at least some shared responsibility for each other. That is heartening.

    And it is a potentially important development. The extent to which American Jews should criticize Israel has never been easy to figure out. But now it is even more difficult, because:

    1) On the one hand, most of us don’t want to add the growing derision and hostility towards everything connected to the Zionist enterprise.
    2) On the other hand, Israeli policy directly affects us, as I said in my post on redefining the relationship. The Hebron settlers who took over that house aren’t just your problem. They are my problem, too.

    So we need new protocols, new rules of decorum, new ways of dealing with our shared problems.

  3. Daniel-
    You’re forgetting the very particular distinction between criticizing Israel and criticizing policy. The former essentialy means to say something against its existence, and the latter against its actions. Please be clearer in your headlines/titles.

  4. Alvin,

    I’ve never heard of that formulation. To “criticize Israel” means to “say something against its existence?” I don’t know anyone –except, I guess, you– who reflexively equates one with the other. But if you are expressing a belief –or an intepretation of syntax–that is commonly held, I would like to know about it.

    If I say, “I criticized my kid this morning,” doesn’t that imply that I criticised her for something specific, like not cleaning her room, as opposed to questioning her right to exist?

  5. I was struck by the fact that 40% of Israelis don’t want to hear Diaspora criticism, while 86% want us to keep the shekels coming there way. A bit schizoid isn’t that? They like the color of our money but not the ideas in our minds.

  6. I’ll rephrase what I THINK Alvin meant to say (although I don’t know him so I can’t be sure!):

    There is a difference between criticizing Israeli policy and being critical of its very existence. And (my goodness, is Richard actually correct here?) if I’m supporting Israel via various charities, not to mention putting myself out in public to stand up for Israel in the face of jihadis (well, you haven’t done THAT bit, have you Richard?), then I sure as hell retain my right to criticize actions or policies of the government.

    As Seraphya points out, there are limits to the criticism, and also one must look at the underlying motive. When it comes from those who align themselves with the above-mentioned jihadis, who can’t even bear to support the concept of Israel as a Jewish state, then such criticism is justifiably suspect as to its underlying motive.
    When I criticize my children, it’s because I want them to act properly, to become better people, etc. I don’t criticize them saying “I wish you’d never been born, the world would be a beter place without you; I don’t really care if you live or die.” And if I’m hanging out on the corner with the bullies who keep threatening to kill them, then they’d be entitled to be just a bit skeptical of my “well-intentioned” criticism.

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