What the Heck Are JStreet and IfNotNow Thinking?
In 2011, I posted: “If Israel has to do so many awful things to keep existing, then maybe it shouldn’t?” This post was in response to a conversation I had with a pro-Israel activist who claimed that Israel built the security fence, attacks Gaza and Lebanon, and “occupies” the Palestinians, in order to defend itself and continue existing.
I have come a long way, but still understand the mentality of my anti-Zionist counterparts. With so many pressures from all different directions on campus, it’s a miracle anyone stays pro-Israel, because the facts aren’t exactly presented in great abundance.
For those who wonder what in the world these anti-Zionist, non-Zionist, post-Zionist, (or whatever new term they come up with) Jews are thinking and feeling (consciously and subconsciously), look no further, because I used to hang out with these people.
“I want to be part of something BIG! I was in the BLM movement and women’s marches, and I crave more, I crave a cause that relates to me in some way as a Jew. I love the attention I get from the social justice crowd from going against what I was programmed to support growing up. I love being a hero. My parents had Vietnam, now I have this to give me a sense of purpose. That feeling that I’m making a difference is so priceless!”
Type 1: SJW Wannabe
“I’m a Jew, and I don’t feel comfortable being an outright anti-Zionist – either that or my parents would kill me if I were. All my friends are involved in social justice causes and yet as a Jew they trust me less for some reason. Because of our privilege. In my super white neighborhood where I grew up, the Jews I knew thought Mercedes was a low-end car to drive, they got LV purses for their Bat Mitzvahs, they were spoiled rotten brats who got everything they asked for and here they are claiming to be part of an oppressed group? Give me a break. Not only are we white but we are rich, I grew up around it, I see it firsthand! Maybe my Holocaust survivor grandparents worked super hard after the renewed vigor they got after being liberated from the camps to make something from nothing, but they were rich before the war and Jews always have this way of making money somehow, you can’t possibly include them as oppressed since they can blend in perfectly in white surroundings. It absolutely disgusts me – the chutzpah that these people think they can tie themselves to the “People of Color” label as if they can’t just blend in as white when it’s convenient for them. Yay, I just used a Yiddish word – chutzpah! See how Jewish I am? Anyway, I can’t go against my family and be outright anti-Zionist but I can’t lose all my friends whose friendships are contingent on me having progressive values, so I guess I’ll join J Street and complain about the occupation nonstop to rack up SJW cred by the powers that be and score brownie points with my friends. Because SJW is all the rage these days. With JStreet I can have my cake and eat it too!”
Type 2: The Trump Haters
“I’m disgusted by Trump. Not only is he colluding with Russia, making us a laughingstock of the world, shutting down the government, playing golf all day, drinking way too many energy drinks, selling state secrets to the highest bidder, saying awful degrading things about women, destroying human rights, forcing dreamers to stop dreaming, and an all around racist sexist homophobe, I gotta distance myself from him. As a Jew it’s my Tikkun Olam imperative. Since Netanyahu has been cozying up to Trump lately I’m quite disgusted with Israel altogether and it’s embarrassing to be associated with it. But I can’t totally go against Israel, I have cousins there, they would kill me. It’s too much of a sacrifice. But I have to distance myself from Trump and speak out against him at any chance I get, and speak out against everything he stands for, which unfortunately also means Israel. So J Street is a nice happy medium where I can hate Trump and hate Bibi openly and proudly without turning my back on Israel.
Type 3 – Love Israel, But Hate the Occupation
“So I’m not against the idea of Israel. I love Israel. I went on Birthright and go every year with my parents. I even want to make Aliyah someday. But I don’t love how millions of Palestinians are occupied by Israeli soldiers, and can’t vote for people who represent them.* So because I love Israel so much, I’m here to help her be the best she can be! To save her from herself!”
* it’s actually only a couple hundred thousand Palestinians who live in Area C, as agreed upon by both parties in Oslo. Yes, including the Palestinians. The other 88% of Judea and Samaria’s Arabs live under the rule of their own people, the Palestinian Authority, also agreed upon by Israelis and Palestinians at Oslo. Since it was agreed upon by both parties, and territory that Jordan relinquished in 1967, it’s technically not an occupation in the territorial sense. Some say it is in the population sense, with thousands of people living under the rule of an enemy army. However, they get paid 2-3x what they would in the Palestinian Authority territories and the economy is booming despite BDS. So it only benefits Palestinians overall, who have freedom of religion, press and healthcare. Anti-Israel activists see the occupation as all of Israel, and often seduce people into joining by using the amorphous “occupation” as a lure.