By Jonathan S. Tobin
Pro-Israel liberals took particular pleasure last month in mocking the latest evidence that Jews on the far left know no limits in their hatred for Israel.
The object of their derision was Jewish Currents, a far-left publication that issued a formal apology to its readers for accepting an advertisement from the Dorot Fellowship for a 10-month-long fellowship program for American Jews in Israel. But as much as it’s hard not to laugh at the contortions those on the far-left go through to maintain their standing as “good Jews” in the eyes of their antisemitic ideological allies, mainstream Jewish groups that are still trying to promote a two-state solution with the Palestinians may be the ones who have lost touch with reality.
The fellowship was explicitly pitched as open to both Zionists and non-Zionists, and requires participants to return to the United States upon completion of their stay rather than remaining in Israel. Many of its past graduates have gone on to careers in progressive groups that are bitterly critical of the Jewish state, like J Street and the New Israel Fund, and are vocal Israel-bashers. But the mere fact that this program took place in Israel was enough to generate a backlash against the magazine. Within a day, its editor issued a public apology, claiming that it was “not in line with our values” and had somehow “not been vetted properly.” That seemed to imply that the “values” of Jewish Currents consist of support for boycotts of Israel.
This publication ought to be one of the preferred outlets of members of anti-Zionist and antisemitic groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. But the audience of Jewish Currents remains small, perhaps because in its target demographic, the appetite may be limited for any title that includes the word “Jewish.”
Still, some of the mockery of Jewish Currents from liberal Zionists who still believe in Israel’s right to exist struck me as a bit hollow.
There are still many more American Jews who define themselves as liberal Zionists than those who identify with the anti-Zionist radicals at Jewish Currents. But the shift in the Democratic Party base in favor of anti-Israel figures like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as well as her openly antisemitic “Squad” colleagues like Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and away from the aging moderates who still claim to be allies of the Jewish state, can’t be ignored. People who read Jewish Currents — and it is telling that AOC follows it on Twitter — are illustrative of a tiny minority of American Jewry. But anti-Zionism is becoming less of an outlier position if not altogether respectable among Jewish elites in fields like journalism, something that is reflected constantly in the pages of publications like The New York Times.
Jews who think, like so many antisemites, that one Jewish state on the planet is one too many are setting themselves up for disappointment. The nearly 7 million Jews who live in Israel aren’t about to acquiesce to the extinction of their state. But the notion that a two-state solution involving the creation of what would actually be a second independent Palestinian state, along with the one in all but name currently ruled by Hamas in Gaza, is no more realistic than fantasies about the end of Zionism.
The reason is that the ambitions of the Palestinians are more in tune with the “values” of Jewish Currents than they are with those who claim to be both “pro-peace” and “pro-Israel.”
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS — Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.