Seven years ago, in the face of the growing wave of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish demonstrations as a result of the Protective Edge operation, I quoted Jack Terpins, then president of the Latin American Jewish Congress, when he stated that “the situation has never been so bad for the Jews of our region.” (Radio interview on Radio Jai, 9-15-2014). I then added that, “Indeed, this distinguished leader of the Jewish diaspora is correct. What Terpins and the rest of the Jewish community leaderships in the world do not pay attention to is that, if Israel does not change its attitude towards the conflict with the Palestinians, most likely the worst is yet to come” (“The worst is yet to come”, D. Kupervaser, 20-9-2014).
Also, this time I ended my note with the traditional expression “I hope I’m wrong.” The reality of these days confirms that, unfortunately, the prognosis was correct. Although the phenomenon manifests itself primarily in European countries and throughout the American continent, this time, and given its cardinal importance for the future of Israel and the Jewish people of the world, I will dedicate a few lines to the situation in the USA.
Israel and the US maintain a “special relationship” that was born in the 70s of the last century and, after certain changes in the regional and global panorama, in the last two decades it was configured in a very defined context with the participation of Israel, the American leadership and predominant sectors of the Jewish community in the USA. In the eyes of the American citizen, a clear image was projected whereby a strong financial contribution from sectors of the American Jewish community to the electoral campaigns of their country is accompanied by an unconditional servility of their leaders towards Israel’s interests. Reports speak of a 25-50% share of Jewish contributions in costly Republican and Democratic election budgets versus a 2% share of the population (“The Jewish vote: political power and identity in US elections,” Gil Troy, Ruderman Foundation, Haifa University, Israel, cited in Ynet, 6-11-2016). Nothing is more illustrative than Trump’s proselytizing speech in front of Jewish donors in the Republican Jewish Coalition. The then US president confessed that “my government gave you something you wanted” and the subsequent detail of it included, among others, the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, recognition of sovereignty in the Golan and cancellation of donations to Palestinians. (“Trump to Republican Jewish Coalition: Democrats Will damage Israel”, The Guardian, 6-4-2019).
For decades it can be said that the territory of the USA enjoyed one of the lowest levels in the world with regard to anti-Semitic acts (“Mapamundi del antisemitismo”, Diego Moldes, 10-24-2016). The last two decades represented the beginning of the change when the true background of “the special relations” between the USA and Israel began to be glimpsed before the American citizenry. It would not be entirely an exaggeration to point to the Charlottesville rally of August 2017 when white supremacist hordes shouted the slogan “Jews will not replace us” as a historic turning point. As of that event, and in view of an unshakable Israeli intransigence, important sectors of American society, which traditionally expressed their support for Israel, began to move to the opposite side. In a kind of parallel but unrelated routes, anti-Semitic acts and attacks began to flourish and reproduce, alongside manifestations of aversion towards Israel’s conduct in the conflict with Palestinians that were projected in a drastic change in its vision towards Israel, including calls to fundamentally modify the famous “special relations” with Israel.
At the end of October 2017, the bloody attack on the Pittsburgh synagogue was committed with 11 fatalities. At the end of 2019, an attack was carried out on a Jewish supermarket in New Jersey, also with fatalities. The statistics of anti-Semitic acts and attacks continue to grow year after year, until recently reaching rates not known in the past (“Historical record of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States”, Maariv, 12-27-2020).
But anti-Semitism is only one part of the problem that turns the USA into yet another country in the world where the growing aversion towards Israel and the Jews is translated into anti-Semitic attacks and acts. By far the most strategically important aspect for Israel and the Jewish people of the world is the troubled process that is rapidly erasing the foundations of US political support for Israel. Every day it becomes more evident that Israel is gradually losing support in important sectors of that society. It seems that the rope that holds the US leadership to Israel has begun to unravel. If the leaders of Israel do not adopt a drastic change in their leadership, no one should be surprised that the clamor that every day manifests with greater intensity from below in diverse popular layers in the USA, finally forces its leaders to break the conditions of the historical ones “special relations” between the two countries.
For the first time in history, thousands of employees in some of the most outstanding private companies in the United States and the world raise their voices in protest and demand that their executives take drastic measures against Israel in response to their oppressive conduct in the conflict with the Palestinians. The list includes companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon (“As well as Google and Apple, hundreds of Amazon employees demand that their CEO support the Palestinians”, The Marker, 26-5 2021).
The support of American evangelical groups over the last few years has been a solid backing of Israel, which, as in the case of President Trump, was also part of the incitement to expansionist Israeli policies. A recent study by experts from the University of North Carolina analyzed the behavior of young American evangelists (18-29 years old) and their conclusion shows that the future predicts a drastic change in historical support for the State of Israel. According to the report, support for Israel by these young people fell from 75% in 2018 to 33% in 2021. Almost half are in favor of a Palestinian state and in the last elections they voted for Biden and not Trump.
Also, within the framework of the American Jewish community, there are growing symptoms of discomfort at the Israeli behavior and gradually their voice begins to expand and accumulate support. As detailed in a headline “Also in the eyes of many of those who support Israel in the USA, the latest Guardian of the Wall operation went beyond all limits. The tendency of the Jewish youth to shed their unconditional support for Israel just strengthened during this operation. They see the destruction and violence and wonder: is this such wonderful Israel? ” (Haaretz, 5-28-2021).
No less disturbing is the perception of Abraham Foxman, who led the Anti-Defamation League for decades and spent his life fighting racism and anti-Semitism. In an interview he exposes his disappointment at Israel’s behavior that, in his opinion, they “lost sight the direction and wants the whole world to understand”. He later states that “Israel needs to understand that the world looks at it with different eyes. I am concerned that this may be the last Democratic administration to support Israel” (“For the crisis between the US and Israel, Abraham Foxman warns: Israel has no vision”, AJN, 5-27-2021).
Beyond what has been described, there is no better demonstration of the weakening of the special relations between Israel and the United States than to observe the political strata of Washington. The analyst Natanhel Shlomovich describes it under the title “Pressure on Biden to come out against the Israeli conquest of the occupied territories intensifies” (Haaretz, 5-28-21). Well-known analyst Udi Evental from the University of Herzlia makes a comparison in the behavior of US senators between the 2014 Protective Edge operation and the recent Guardian of the Wall. In his words, “in the middle of the Guardian of the Wall operation, a majority of 29 of the 50 Democratic senators published a call for an immediate ceasefire, against the Israeli position. During Protective Edge, after 10 days of fighting, the plenary session of the US Senate adopted a resolution in support of Israel with an overwhelming majority of both parties (“USA and the conflagration in Gaza: Washington, we have a problem”, Udi Evental, Times of Israel, 31-5-2021).
Despite having the strongest army in the Middle East, a significant erosion of US support at the regional level, and especially with international organizations, it is to be assumed that Israel will have to face a reality diametrically different from the present one and with a strong weakening. Most likely, the same process will be reflected in a much more complicated and dangerous reality in the Jewish communities of the diaspora.
The worst is not yet to come, it is already at our doors.
I hope I’m wrong
Herzlya – Israel 7-6-2021