The Unbridgeable Gulf between the Israeli Left and the American Left

Aug. 17 2021

In a recent book, the Israeli-born philosophy professor Omri Boehm argues that the Jewish state should be dismantled and replaced with some sort of confederation of Jews and Arabs as a means of preserving “liberal Zionism.” Having read a review of Boehm’s book by the American scholar of Ḥasidism Shaul Magid, Daniel Gordis is struck not so much by the poverty of the arguments themselves, but by the strangeness of the very discussion: an American Jewish post-Zionist who lived in Israel during the 1980s is examining the views of an Israeli post-Zionist who likewise hasn’t lived in the country for over a decade. Gordis writes:

I understand how [Boehm’s proposal] (temporarily) saves liberalism. I’m not entirely sure how it saves Zionism in any way. And I’m definitely not clear on how it saves the lives of the Jews who live in the Jewish state, but that issue didn’t quite come up in the review. . . . But I found myself wondering—other than fueling hatred against not only Israel, but Jews (for example: “The ‘Jewishness’ that Israel seeks to protect is not culture or religion, ‘but Jewish ethnicity, Jewish blood’”)—what is this book supposed to accomplish?

Note that it was written in English, and that Boehm, born in Israel, could have written it in Hebrew. (I could find no mention online of a forthcoming Hebrew version.) So why English? Because there’s exactly zero audience for it in Israel. Even the Israeli left would pay it no attention; it is adamantly opposed to the occupation, it objects to all sorts of Israel’s policies—but overwhelmingly, [it’s made up of] Zionists. The idea of taking apart the country in which they live, in which they’re raising their children and grandchildren, that they’re working to save—well, it just doesn’t grab them.

So what policy needle is Boehm trying to move? He’ll have no impact on Israel. He’s not going to change President Biden, obviously. He’s not going to affect most Republicans. He’s not going to influence the traditional slice of the Democratic party. And as for the progressive Democrats, he doesn’t need to move them. [The “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization] J Street became irrelevant when the progressives leap-frogged it.

Read more at Israel from the Inside

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora, Israeli left, post-Zionism


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount