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January 04, 2009

What Do American Jews Think About Gaza?
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

A couple of days ago Michael wrote about the overwhelming and pretty much unanimous response from America's leaders in support of Israel's operations in Gaza.

What matters, from a political perspective, is not what 71% of Americans think; what matters is what those Americans who care passionately about the issue think!

Overwhelmingly, those people support Israel. Now I'm not making a value judgment here as to whether this is right or wrong; it just is. So it should hardly be surprising that Israel has near uniform support in Washington.


I gotta say, the recent misdiagnosis of Obama's supposed "Jewish problem" has really  made skeptical about broad sweeping statements about American Jewish opinion. Remember when Jews weren't going to vote for Obama until they voted for him in greater numbers than they did for Kerry?

So, I decided to do my own little focus group and have over the past couple of days been talking to friends and family and reading various forwarded emails from my parents.  This has included messages from family friends who recently moved to Israel, a rabbi, a diverse set of ages, and generally people who engaged on this issue and care deeply about Israel.  It's also not an overwhelmingly liberal group by Jewish standards.  I think it's a fair representation of conservative and reform Jews.

The very unscientific results would indicate a much more diverse set of opinions than what we're seeing coming from Capitol Hill.  There is almost uniform agreement on the fact that Israel has a right to defend its civilians from rocket attacks.  Moreover, while most folks don't buy into the proportionality argument  (i.e that Israel's response is disproportionate) and believe that Israel is doing what it can to limit Palestinian civilian casualties, they are uncomfortable with the civilian death toll and suffering in Gaza. People understand why Israel would launch such an operation.  But there is also almost uniform skepticism of one kind or another about whether such an operation will work.  Pretty much everyone has argued that at the end a diplomatic solution will have to be part of the equation and that military force alone will not do it.    

This hesitance and debate is only natural.  The debate inside Israel has become much more intense over the past twenty years as that society works through very difficult questions.  And those debates are also being expressed more and more in the Jewish diaspora.  Basically, to make any assumptions about American Jewish opinion on the military operations in Gaza without some polling is a mistake.  Feelings are very mixed and conflicted across the community. 

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Comments

I am an american citizen living in Switzerland and I can tell you that the opinion of the people here is not in support of the Israeli bombing of Gaza. We are seeing the results of the military action - ie the horrendous injuries suffered by children. And it is a disportionate response.

We are also seeing the Israeli and the Hamas politicians present their sides. Both must negotiate. Israel had the opportunity to negotiate during the 6 month truce. They could have used this time to figure out a way to ensure that the borders are open and properly controlled to allow the legitimate movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza. But instead of doing that they maintained the blockade and in so doing supported the creation of the illegal network of tunnels which were then exploited by Hamas to move weapons.

Hamas has proposed a long term 10-20 year truce in the place of official recognition of the right of Israel to exist. This is a legitimate compromise.

The Israelis must accept that their state came into being at the expense of the palestinians. It was an european crime against the european jewish population, and a British cynical political explotation of that crime in order to insert a human wedge in the oil rich middle east which created this problem.

Now Israelis are recreating for the palestinians the inhuman conditions that they were previously subjected to in europe ie Gaza is a ghetto like the Jewish ghettos in europe. And Israel is now engaged in a pogram against the trapped population.

Also consider Gaza has been under blockade for the last 18 months which has crippled the Gazan economy and has created the conditions resulting in the current slaughter going on in Gaza.

And yes, it is incredibly disproportionate to kill 800 people for the deaths of 4. And no, there is no way that Israel can succeed in removing Hamas from Gaza since Hamas is not only a group of people it is also a political expression of people's experience.

I sincerely hope that the Israeli government does not carry out a door to door search of Gaza by military force. That can only result in horrendous crimes against human beings in Gaza being carried out by the dominating Israeli troops. What a unbearable cost to both sides that would be.


I am an American, Democrat, non Jewish woman. I am a Jewish sympathizer, though and have a lot of Jewish friends as well as being in a life relationship with a Jew.

What's going on is Gaza is obviously not a good thing, but I can see why Israel wants to protect their people and safety.
Most of all, I'm just left with so many questions...

Why are the civilians trapped in Gaza? Why not let them flee to Egypt?
I know that the Hamas edit the photos and news coming out of Gaza to make themselves out to be the victims. I know that they intentionally put the Palestinian civilians in harms way to help make Israel seem like savage hypocritical Nazis when those civilians get in the way.

Why doesn't Israel back up and be a little smarter about how they handle this situation?

Can't they have Israeli journalists or even Israeli soldiers taking photos to document a more unbiased version of the war?

By not allowing international journalists in, they are creating a recipe for disaster in the rest of the world. They are not showing the world an unbiased view of the war. We on the outside need to see what's truly happening on the inside.

From what I understand, the Palestinians voted 75% for Hamas, who's only political platform is to "destroy Israel". That can't make for a 'good neighbor' type of relationship.

What is the best way to handle this situation? What would you do? What would I do?

I'm at a complete loss. Even though I know why things are being done, I don't understand why things are being done the way they are being done.

There is a saying here in the good'ol U.S.A., "Don't wrestle with the pigs, you both get muddy, and the pigs like it." There's got to be a better answer than violence to the Hamas/Gaza problem. In a way, it seems like this war is dragging the Israelis down to the same level of the Hamas. 'An eye for an eye' never did anyone any good.

I'm hesitant to judge the situation, accept to say, I think Israel should really be doing a better job of figuring out the best way to handle the publicity for this. Currently, as seen by the blurb by "Vicky in Switzerland" above, the world does not understand what or why things are happening the way they are. The world is becoming less and less sympathetic to Israel's cause daily.

The whole situation is incredibly sad for both sides. It seems no one can win this ugly ridiculous war. There are no winners. Only death and loss.

I am a liberal, socialist, American, Jew. Following are my comments about Israel and the Arabs which, I proffer, justifies Israel's actions in Gaza:

As a preliminary matter, it is incomprehensable to me how so many putative liberals can support the most extreme form of fanatical conservatism in the world - Arab, Islamist, fundamentalist, terrorism, against one of the most liberal, progressive, nations in the world, Israel.

Second, the Arabs are the instigators, the attackers, the ones who have literally brainwashed themselves (and continue to abuse their own children brainwashing them), to be filled with hate, whose express policy is that Israel has no right to exist, and whose express goal is the annihilation of Israel, and the murder of its citizens. That is the foundational premise that many putative liberals either don't understand, or chose to ignore.

Further, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Fattah, PLO, etc., have a long established, 60 year, history of purposely and indiscriminately targeting and murdering Israeli civilians. And they use their own citizens as human shields as a subterfuge for propaganda. Conversely, Israel uses all reasonable means to avoid the death of Arab civilians.

Moreover, every attempted cease fire, treaty and land for peace deal, has been breached by the Arabs because they have no interest in making peace with Israel. They're interest is the destruction of Israel. If nothing else is crystal clear, it is crystal clear that bargaining with the Arabs is futile.

So, knowing that bargaining with the Arabs is demonstrably futile, and that they willingly, purposely, embed themselves among their own citizens as shields, how then, do you propose that Israel defend itself, without inadvertently killing Arab civilians? It's impossible, and it's 100% the doing of the Arabs - to themselves.

YOUR YOUR OUTRAGE AND YOUR EFFORT MUST BE DIRECTED TOWARD THE ARABS. THEY INSTIGATE EVERY SINGLE CONFLICT WITH ISRAEL, THEY PURPOSELY TARGET ISRAELI CIVILIANS, AND THEY PURPOSELY SACRIFICE THEY'RE OWN CITIZENS AS A SUBTERFUGE FOR PROPAGANDA. WHEN THE ARABS STOP ATTACKING ISRAEL, THE CEASEFIRE WILL BE AUTOMATIC. ISRAEL HAS NO OTHER INTEREST IN THIS CONFLICT.

Hi,

I am not an American citizen but I am a Canadian citizen, and would love to respond to Lefty’s comment.

If Israel really wanted to make peace with Palestine like you say, when it entered Palestine in 1948 how did they enter? With peace? Or with violence and murder? Israel is the most stubborn, most trouble making nation in this earth and all it has to say is Hammas blew rockets at us first. If you were civilized enough to investigate a little more into this matter you would find out that the reason Hammas fired at your so called Israel nation and killed a couple of citizens here and there is because you have minimized the food and water quantities in Gaza to a level where citizens starve. Obviously in such a matter NORMAL PEOPLE would take action and that is exactly what they did. Please stop defending your own race and face reality. YOU HAVE KILLED OVER 800 PEOPLE AND SEVERLY WOUNDED OVER 1000 OTHER CITIZENZ.

Think of the times where Palestinians never fired rockets at you. We absolutely did nothing but STILL watch you kill more of our citizens and that is not only Gaza but all of Palestine. Please if you want to defend your nation than start from the beginning and not from the middle. I walk with my head up high knowing I am a Palestinian from GAZA.

From the beginning, the Israel occupation in Palestine on 1948 is a big mistake because they do that by killing thousand of Palestinians on 1948 and continued on 1982 in Lebanon. And now, Israel invading Gaza.Israel in invading Gaza not only destroy UN school and warehouses, but they also use white phosporus in their invasion.Human Rights Watch said that White phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. Human Right Watch statement proves to the world that what the israel do in Gaza is not a self defence but a form of GENOCIDE to the moslem and christian who live in Gaza. Are you willing your tax that you paid used to kill them? For your information,the american government always obey what the israel government want. Like when the America attack Iraq who causes more than 3000 innocent American soldiers die,they do that in order the get rid of Saddam who is one the Israel biggest enemy. Are all American are just do nothing but only see the patriotic American soldiers die only to protect Israel, not the American citizen. If that so then perhaps it is true that America is Israel slave who will do anything to please their master. Now is the time for ALL AMERICAN CITIZXEN to show that we, America is ARE FREEDOM COUNTRY from Israel and not under control of Israel.

israel is a nation who is like to kill innocent child with poison.

From the beginning, the Israel occupation in Palestine on 1948 is a big mistake because they do that by killing thousand of Palestinians on 1948 and continued on 1982 in Lebanon. And now, Israel invading Gaza.Israel in invading Gaza not only destroy UN school and warehouses, but they also use white phosporus in their invasion.Human Rights Watch said that White phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. Human Right Watch statement proves to the world that what the israel do in Gaza is not a self defence but a form of GENOCIDE to the moslem and christian who live in Gaza. Are you willing your tax that you paid used to kill them? If that so, then united states of america is the same as osama bin laden, a true TERRORIST. For your information,the american government always obey what the israel government want. Like when the America attack Iraq who causes more than 3000 innocent American soldiers die,they do that in order the get rid of Saddam who is one the Israel biggest enemy. Are all American are just do nothing but only see the patriotic American soldiers die only to protect Israel, not the American citizen. If that so then perhaps it is true that America is Israel slave who will do anything to please their master. Now is the time for ALL AMERICAN CITIZXEN to show that we, America is ARE FREEDOM COUNTRY from Israel and not under control of Israel.

America is ARE FREEDOM COUNTRY from Israel and not under control of Israel.

America is ARE FREEDOM COUNTRY from Israel and not under control of Israel.


Great comments! You are so nice, man! You never know how much i like'em!

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