A New Survey Suggests That American Jews Aren’t Growing Disenchanted with Israel

According to the conventional wisdom, Jews in the U.S. are losing sympathy for the Jewish state because of its failure to make peace with the Palestinians, or because of its alleged rightward drift, or because of the building of new housing in the West Bank, or because of the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu (under whom settlement growth has in fact slowed). But a recent poll conducted by the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby group J Street, which is itself deeply invested in this conventional wisdom, suggests otherwise. Elliott Abrams writes:

The survey asked, “Compared to five-to-ten years ago, do you feel more positive, more negative, or about the same toward Israel?” The result: 55 percent said “about the same,” 26 percent said “more positive,” and 19 percent said “more negative.” Respondents were asked “Does the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank make you feel positive about Israel, negative about Israel, or have no impact on how you feel about Israel?” The result: 48 percent said it had “no impact,” 32 percent said “a negative impact,” and 19 percent said expansion of settlements had a positive impact on [their attitudes].

Similar results emerged from questions about Israeli policies regarding non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism. Abrams continues:

Those numbers cannot have made J Street’s publicists very happy, nor can they cheer the propagandists who are constantly telling us that such Israeli actions (or more narrowly, Netanyahu’s policies) are simply ruining relations between the American Jewish community and Israel. But relations are not ruined and more people said they felt more positive about Israel now than said the opposite—with most saying their views had not changed. And the impact of the great brouhaha about treatment of non-Orthodox Judaism turns out to be exaggerated. . . .

[In short], the J Street survey suggests that there is no great crisis in relations between the American Jewish community and Israel.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: American Jewry, Conservative Judaism, Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, J Street, Reform Judaism, Settlements

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law