[Rushtalk] Israeli and American Jews: The Grand Canyon

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Sun Mar 13 20:37:17 MDT 2016

Israeli and American Jews: The Grand Canyon

by Naomi Ragen on January 16th, 2016

It was one of those encounters that had happened to me so many times on
book tour in America: the car ride back to my hotel from the Jewish
Community Center after a few hours of lecturing, answering questions and
signing books. Usually, the drivers in these short rides were
enthusiastic volunteers who were fans and /or members of the book
committee that had invited me in the first place.

This ride was no different. Slim, pretty, with expensive diamond rings,
driving the latest hybrid, my driver spoke to me knowledgeably about my
books and about her community. She expected to be book committee
chairwoman in the coming year, she said proudly. And she was on her way
to Israel in the next two weeks – her first visit — to see Israeli
daycare centers for which she had been actively fundraising.

I smiled at her, grateful for the lift, and the enthusiasm. We talked
for a few minutes about the security situation in Israel. And I casually
remarked that we were really, really lucky that Netanyhu had been
reelected and was in charge to handle the situation, rather than some
clueless member of the Israeli Left. “At least now they aren’t able to
blow up buses the way they were when ‘Peace Now’-ers were in power. You
know, I and my family were at the Park Hotel in 2002. Abd El-Basset
Oudeh drove from Tul Karem into Netanya because the Oslo Accords
prevented Israel from putting up sufficient checkpoints. At least now
it’s one man, one knife, that you can see coming.”

I said it completely off the cuff, almost as a sigh, not seeing anything
at all controversial in such a statement, the truth of which would be
clearly obvious to every average Israeli, who have abandoned the Israeli
Left in droves.

She was silent for a moment, then shook her head. “He [Netanyahu]
shouldn’t have come to America. He shouldn’t have addressed Congress. It
polarized American Jews, politicizing the support for Israel,” she said

“I think it’s been politicized for a long time,” I answered drily.
“Democrats voted for Obama. Republicans didn’t.”

That seemed to surprise her. “So, Israelis don’t like Obama?”

“They hate his guts.”

She shrugged. “Yes, I can understand that. What do you think happened to
him?” She seemed honestly bewildered.

“Nothing happened to him. Anyone who did the slightest bit of research
understood that he had been a member of an anti-Semitic church for
twenty-five years; a church that gave an award to Louis Farrakhan.”

I could have gone on, and on, and on, listing all the anti-Israel aides
and advisors Obama had surrounded himself with pre-election, his Muslim
roots, but I figured: why bother? Obama, after almost eight years in
office in which he’d cozied up to Turkey’s Erdogan, snubbed Israel in
horrendous ways according to her former Ambassador Michael Oren, refused
to fight ISIS, pushed through the horrible nuclear accord with Iran that
endangered Israel’s very existence, had pretty much proved on his own
merits where he stood. At least to people like me.

She bristled.

If I’d had any doubts, her reaction put them to rest. She had been one
of the 70 percent of American Jews to vote Democrat and elect Obama.

“You know, American Jews vote for the things that are important to them.
Those are not always the same things that are important to Israelis.”

I looked surreptitiously at my watch, calculating how much more time we
would be locked into this conversation. Too long to say nothing. So I
ventured mildly: “What is important to you?”

“Well, women’s rights, reproductive rights. The environment. And
fighting the evangelicals.”

I suddenly remembered something my Harvard-educated son recently told
me: “Many American Jews will blindly follow any agenda created by the
Liberal establishment because it makes them feel virtuous and like part
of the in-crowd.”

“So,” I said unwisely, my temperature rising, “let me get this straight.
You’re worried about abortions, climate change and being converted to
Christianity?” I didn’t let her answer. “And those things are more
vital, more important to you, than whether Israel’s greatest enemy gets
an atom bomb to blow the next six million Jews off the face of the

“Obama said he got the best deal possible!”

“And what do you say about those videos of Planned Parenthood selling
baby parts?”

“They were obviously doctored by the Republicans,” she almost shouted,
no longer a fan.

Just at that moment, the hotel loomed into view. I thanked her for the
ride, opening the door and stepping out as swiftly as possible. Before I
closed the door, I turned back and looked at her.

“Please,” I begged her. “Don’t vote for Hillary.”

It was the last straw. “She’s better than Trump!”

“I don’t think so,” I told her with full confidence.

She rolled her eyes. I rolled mine.

And then the door slammed shut, and she disappeared in one direction,
and I in another.


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