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Jewish World Review July 28, 1999 /15 Av, 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Econophone

Hillary has nothing to fear from 'N.Y. Jews'

http://www.jewishworldreview.com --
THOUGH BLOWN OFF THE FRONT PAGES by the orgy of Kennedymania during the last 10 days, the race for Senate in New York will re-emerge in time to its rightful place -- upstaging the struggling Gore campaign.

Don't believe the dire warnings about the carnivorous New York press slicing Hillary up. They will do no such thing. Except for a few pockets of sanity like the valiant New York Post, the New York media are firmly liberal and star-struck -- just like the press everywhere else.

Nor should you take seriously warnings that Mrs. Clinton faces trouble from Jewish voters in New York, who are supposed to be fanatically pro-Israel and who will accordingly punish Mrs. Clinton for her support of a Palestinian state. To believe this is to misperceive the state of Jewish opinion about Israel.

It is poorly understood outside the Jewish world that things have changed quite dramatically during the past decade and a half. The days of solidarity between Jews of the Diaspora and those in Israel are over. Many of the Jews who lived through the Holocaust and saw the founding of the State of Israel as a spiritual, political and moral redemption are dying off. The younger generation is less attached to Jewish religious life and to Israel. Assimilation is thinning Jewish ranks rapidly in America. There are now more American Moslems than American Jews.

The fraying of the American Jewish community is matched by that in Israel itself.

There, assimilation is obviously not the problem, but a deep crisis of identity has gripped the educated elites in Israel. The intellectual class in Israel is overwhelmingly leftist and -- this will shock some readers -- anti-Jewish. They view the religious community in Israel not with suspicion, but with a searing hatred that borders on violence.

But the point is this: The educated elites in Israel, the folks who control television, radio, and most newspapers and magazines, are losing their belief in the essential goodness of their own country. The analogy to American leftists is almost perfect. Israel's left wing is obsessed with the Palestinians the way America's left wing is obsessed with minorities. The left in Israel is not just pro-peace (as the American press often presents it) but believes that as between the claims of the PLO and Israel, the PLO is right.

Israel's future is very murky at the moment. It is, in the words of one observer, "at war with itself." And that division has had ramifications in the United States and in New York, in particular.

A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton was given a "humanitarian award" by Hadassah, the largest Jewish women's organization. There was a small protest by a group called Americans for a Safe Israel, but for the most part, members of Hadassah received Mrs. Clinton rapturously. There were no tough questions about her statement in favor of a Palestinian state. Nor did her support -- in her pre-White House career -- for the PLO ever come up.

Evan Gahr of the American Enterprise magazine broke the story about Mrs. Clinton's financial support, while head chairman of the New World Foundation in the late 1980s, for a series of ultra-leftist groups, including CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, a pro-communist group), the National Lawyers Guild (the legal arm of the American Communist Party) and Grassroots International, which funded two Palestinian groups, both affiliated with communist factions of the PLO. This, Gahr notes, was before Arafat renounced terrorism and shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin.

Jewish Americans can take all of this in stride because they are no longer the cheerleaders for Israeli security they once were. And with so many opinion leaders in Israel losing confidence in Israel's right to survive as a Jewish state, their confusion is understandable.

There is still a majority among ordinary Israelis for peace with security -- a majority that is not disoriented by the propaganda of Israeli leftists. But for many New York Jews, themselves more liberal than Jewish, Mrs. Clinton's pro-Palestinian past will not hurt her -- it may even help.


JWR contributor Mona Charen reads all of her mail. Let her know what you think by clicking here. Please bear in mind, though, that while all letters are read, due to the heavy amount of traffic, not all letters can be answered.


Up

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12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?


©1999, Creators Syndicate