Shifting Sands: Zionism & U.S. Jewry

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VOL. 48

2018/19

No. 2
P. 79
Commentary
Shifting Sands: Zionism & U.S. Jewry
ABSTRACT

The current willingness of major American Jewish organizations and leaders to dismiss the threat from white supremacists in the name of supporting Israel represents a new stage in the shifting relationship of U.S. Jews toward Zionism. In the first stage, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the majority of U.S. Jews did not take to Zionism, as its goals seemed antithetical to their aspirations to join mainstream American society. In a second stage, attitudes toward Zionism grew more positive as conditions for European Jews worsened, and Jewish settlement in Palestine grew substantially. Following Israeli statehood in 1948, U.S. Jews began gradually to support Israel. Jewish groups and leaders increasingly characterized criticism of Zionism as inherently anti-Semitic and attacked Israel’s critics. In a third and most recent stage, many major Jewish organizations and leaders have subordinated the traditional U.S. Jewish interest in combatting white supremacy and bigotry when it comes into conflict with support for Israel and Zionism.