Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Questioning AIPAC--updated

"I think the number of people in that group is relatively small," Rosenberg said. "I think the much larger number are people who are absolutely indifferent. And therefore they're not susceptible to moral blackmail because they will never hear what AIPAC or the IPF or any of the Israel organizations say. I don't know what percentage it is, but my guess is that no more than 40 percent of American Jews think about Israel in any way, shape or form. Most of them live their lives, like most people do. So we're fighting over people who think about it at all, and as I said the single-issue ones tend to be more with AIPAC for now. We're trying to get the rest. But I do think that as time goes on, with more and more young people, that moral blackmail thing doesn't work anymore."
"Rosenberg said that long-term demographic trends were working against AIPAC and its fear tactics. The AIPAC leadership, which he described as a "true believer [on Israel] crowd with money," is "a much older crowd," he said. "Their children and grandchildren don't have those views. As we get further from World War II, it's harder to scare young people into support for Israel. They will support Israel if they believe in Israel and if Israel appeals to them. But those scare tactics, 'write checks because there's going to be another Holocaust' -- that's doesn't work with the under-60 crowd. The people who demonstrated against the Vietnam war in the '60s, they're just not going to buy into the 'Hitler is coming' stuff. They're just too smart for that. I've got kids in their 20s -- the idea of telling them that America could be a dangerous place for them? They would laugh in my face. That's ridiculous."
"Rosenberg also pointed out that "Israel's popularity with American Jews has gone down since 1977, when Begin became prime minister. The way Israel was sold, the Leon Uris Israel, was the Israel of the kibbutz, this socialist paradise. And that's totally changed now. A lot of the glow is really gone, which makes me sad, because I'm very involved with Israel and I care a lot about Israel."
"Rosenberg said that one of the best things American Jews can do to educate themselves about Israel is to read the Israeli press, which routinely prints pieces far more harshly critical of Israel than anything found in the American media. "If people who don't follow the situation closely started to read the Israeli press, started to read Haaretz, they'd realize how much debate there is there, and how many people feel terribly about what's happened to the Palestinians, and how many people are determined to break out of this situation," Rosenberg said. "And they'd realize that Israelis in general feel that the rhetoric of American Jewish organizations is about as outdated as the last century. It says nothing to Israelis. They laugh at that kind of rhetoric. If American Jews saw what the debate is like there, that would make Israel more popular. The more knowledge, the better. American Jews would see that the kind of liberal humanitarian views they have on issues here are perfectly legitimate in Israel, and perfectly common in Israel, even though in the mainstream American Jewish organizations they're considered off-center."

Also see this article by Scott McConnell.

Listen to Warren Olney's "To the Point"

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