The Widening Gap between American and Israeli Jews Is about Far More Than Politics

Much has been written, including in Mosaic, about the divergence between American Jews and Israel. To Elliot Jager, the reasons are not hard to identify:

Why should Israelis and American Jews see eye to eye? Americans and Israelis are not alike. They have different concerns, interests, lifestyles, and even a different calendar. Most American Jews do not speak Hebrew. Nor do they treat Friday night as special, whereas more than 60 percent of Israelis observe Shabbat by lighting candles or reciting a benediction over wine before sitting down to a family-centric dinner. With all these differences and more, it’s not surprising American Jews do not make Israel a high priority when they go to the polls to vote. . . .

To remedy the situation, thousands of young people have been brought to Israel through a Jewish program intended to connect them to their heritage. . . . Even visitors with the best intentions, [however], fail to grasp Israel’s precarious topography. It is doubtful they realize the hills overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport are in the “occupied” West Bank and that a single terrorist armed with an Iranian-supplied surface-to-air Stinger missile could shut down the country’s main airport. . . .

To be fair, Israel bears some responsibility for the estrangement between American and Israeli Jews. Israel has forgotten that the diaspora has been crucial to building the country—from museums to hospitals to the Knesset [building] to the new national library. Increasingly, this devotion is not shown respect. Jews in the United States want to see non-Orthodox Judaism strengthened in Israel. They want non-Orthodox rabbis to be permitted to officiate at Israeli weddings. They want an area adjacent to the Western Wall where families can pray together, rather than be segregated by sex, as is the Orthodox practice. . . .

Of course, it does not help that a plurality of Israelis—many of whom are as ignorant about the non-Orthodox streams in the United States as U.S. Jewry is about Israel—opposes setting aside any space near the Western Wall for non-Orthodox prayers. . . .

Read more at Israel My Glory

More about: American Jewry, American Judaism, Israel and the Diaspora, Judaism in Israel

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7