Dr. Kenneth Levin

American Jews and Their Israel Problem

| December 31, 2018

Jewish anti-Zionism emerged in central Europe in the early nineteenth century as a response to anti-Semitic claims that Jews were unfit for many civic rights because they constituted a separate nation. Central European Jewish immigrants to the United States later in the century brought their anti-Zionism with them and made it a staple of Reform Judaism in America. The influx of pro-Zionist eastern European Jews, together with the Shoah and the founding of Israel, resulted in a dramatic rise in pro-Zionist opinion among American Jews, including within the Reform movement. But the persistent predilection to appease anti-Jewish opinion by seeking to accommodate anti-Jewish indictments has always had some negative impact on support for Israel among American Jews. In recent decades, as groups within the wider society with whom many American Jews identify have become increasingly critical of and even hostile towards Israel, major segments of the Jewish community have chosen cultivation of their links with those groups over the defense of the well-being of the Jewish state.