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July 14, 2017

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 14, 2017 ByAndrew Silow-Carroll (JTA)--The Great Jewish Revolt of 2017. The Bar Ko- tel Rebellion. The Diaspora Strikes Back. Whatever you call it, last week's clash between Ameri- can Jewish leaders and the Netanyahu government felt louder, angrier and more sig- nificant than previous clashes over pluralism in Israel. That may be because it wasn't only about pluralism. That's not to say that plu- ralism isn't important in its own right. The non-Orthodox Jewish groups who fought hard for a space and a say at the Western Wall--only to see the agreement fr0zen--want their versions of Judaism to be treated with respect in Is- rael. They knew that granting more control over conversions to the haredi Orthodox Chief Rabbinate, as a controversial conversion bill would have done, would present another signal that Reform and Con- servative leaders have no au- thority, or legitimacy, in Israel. Reform and Conservative Jews will tell you how galling it is that Israel may be the only place in the Western world where the freedom of Jews to marry and worship as they wish is restricted by law. They find it baffling and hurtful that their religious identity--generations old and shared with a majority in the Diaspora -- has at best only symbolic legal standing in the homeland of the Jew- ish people. (Consider what happened in May when boys and girls from Conservative day schools in New York and New Jersey tried to pray from a Torah scroll at a pair of kibbutzim far away from the fevered Western Wall: Local Orthodox authorities threat- ened to take away the kibbutz kitchens' kosher certification if the egalitarian service went on as planned. The servicewas scrapped.) And they find it more than insulting when Orthodox politicians in Israel denigrate liberal Judaism as worse than no religion at all when their own religious leaders have so little to say to, and so little positive influence on, the near majority of Israelis who are secular. All this is enough to under- stand the anger of U.S. Jewish groups last week. But there is reason to believe there are other factors at play: politics, psychology and strategy. Politics: This is the thanks we get? Mainstream Jewish groups by and large are liberal when it comes to domestic issues: abortion, immigration, asolid social safety net. These liberal groups are seeing everywhere the consequences of their sup- port for Israel. The exclusion of the Star of David flag from the Chicago Dyke March was a funhouse reflection of more mainstream erosion of support for Israel on the left. Israel may not be a pariah for most of the Democratic Party, but you are far more likely to find unquestioning support for Israel on the right On a list of things Jewish groups share with other progressive groups, Israel stands out like a sore thumb--usually unfairly, but nevertheless. As a result, leaders of the major groups feel they are doing the heavy liftingwhen it comes to supporting Israel-- defending it not just to the Republicans and evangelicals whose support for Israel is unconditional, but fellow lib- erals who are either confused, indifferent or hostile. That task was hard enough when Israel was seen as a demo- cratic darling of the West; it's only gotten harder as Israel's nationalist government has proposed everything from trying to hobble left-wing NGOs to banning supporters of the BDS movement to at- tempting to enshrine Hebrew as the country's only official language. To then see Israeli of- ficiais ignore them or back- track on an issue they care deeply about--pluralism-- feels doubly ungrateful. Psychology: Saying one thing, meaning another Many of the biggest Jewish groups, and a majority of their constituents, are well to the left of the current Israeli gov- ernment on the Palestinian issue. Poll after poll suggests that American Jews support ng ITI munity Call on Central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD Samuel P. (Sammy) Goldstein, Executive Director Robert Swift/Flash90 Conservative Jews praying at Robinson's Arch in Jerusalem, July 30, 2014. a two-state solution to the flywhenitcomestopluralism. SchechterSchoolofManhat- conflict and are growing Freud had a term for swap- tan--one of the day schools more wary of what they see ping unwantedimpulsesinto deniedtheuseofaTorah--put asundemocratictendenciesin socially approved expres- itthisway:"IfSchechterMan- Israel. The younger they are, sions: sublimation. For the hattanstudents, and students the more this wariness--and members of a largely liberal like them throughout North disconnection--grows, community, pluralism is not America, are made to feel that But Jewish groups gener- only a vital issue in its own their Jewish communities, allywill not challenge Israel on right but a steam valve. It their very religious identities whatbothsideshaveagreedto allows them to voice their are devalued and rejected in call security matters. Ameri- independence from and oc- the Jewish state, theywill not can Jews do not vote in Israel casional displeasure with the sustain positive connections andtheirchildrendonotfight Israel government without with Israel." in its wars. Despite a diverse second-guessing security Or as Natan Sharan- membership, the Conference decisions or--and this may sky, chairman of the Jewish of PresidentsofMajorAmeri- be key--giving ammunition Agency, said in his Western can Jewish Organizations toIsrael'smosthostilecritics, Wall statement: "Today's and AIPAC see their role as who care about the Palestin- decision signifies a retreat defending the sitting Israeli ian issue and not at all about from that agreement and will government, the religious debate. Tired of make our work to bring Israel Rabbis also tend to be more holding their tongues, Jewish and the Jewish world closer dovish than the current gov- groups have in pluralism a together increasingly more ernment, but often hesitate meaningful, focused subject difficult." to say so from the pulpit, through whichtheycanhelp I imagine AIPAC leaders Peace issues are considered shape the Jewish state,said pretty much the same too "divisive," too "political." Strategy: What about thing when they flew to Israel As a result, a third of Ameri- the kids? last week to warn Netanyahu can rabbis told a pollster in For the past few years about the consequences of 2013 that they are "fearful" American Jews have beenthe anger over the Koteland of expressing their views preoccupiedwiththeBoycott, conversion decisions. Even on Israel, and half said they Divestment and Sanctions a number of U.S. lawmak- had refrained from publicly movement against Israel, ers made it known that they voicing their views on Israel and attempts to delegitimize disapproved of the freezing of at least once in the previous Israel in European capitals, the Kotel deal. three years, in U.N. bodies and on college Mainstream defenders of Rabbis have fewer qualms campuses. The antidote, say Israelpreferthatthepluralism expressing their views about many Jewish organizations, debate and security issues stay pluralism, however. One iseducatingandempowering on separate tracks. Advocat- can only guess how many young, often indifferent Jews, ing for pluralism is a sincere, sermons this past Shabbat and giving them the tools to vitaland"safe"waytofightfor were devoted to the Western counter negative perceptions NorthAmericanJewishvalues Wall and conversion issues, aboutIsrael.Atthesametime, inIsraeiwithoutplowinginto Federations that would hesi- there is a cottage industry the Palestinian question. The tate to invite a speaker from of organizations worried steamvaiveisagoodthingfor Peace Now or J Street often that Diaspora Jews care less the Jewish community, keep- staff committees and fund and less about Israel. ing the Jewish mainstream projects devoted to fighting Nowsomearebeginningto fromtearingitselfupoverthe for the rights of Reform and maketheconnectionbetween West Bank. Conservative Jews in Israel. the pluralism debate and But the June Uprising may And groups that are hesitant the generational challenge, be a moment when Jewish towade intothe Israeli-Pales- Benjamin Mann, the headimpatiencewithIsraeljumped tinian debate let the rhetoric of school of the Solomon from one track to another. Join the Stone Family At Westchester of Winter Park, a premier Assisted Living Community providing customized care and services in a palatial environment in Winter Park, Florida. Licensed nursing staff is in the building 24 hours each day. Multiple room options at affordable room rates and care level fees. Many services are included in the room rate. The Community entrance fee is $500. Join us for Shabbat every Friday and stay for a tour of our community. STCHES R Please contact our Community Liaison for further information. $]74~.~