Idealizing Israel

American Jews Rally Behind Sharon—For Now

That's a strategy which can only backfire, say critics within Jewish leadership who support developing young people's attachment to Israel, but insist that it must be realistic and that the community must also emphasize other building blocks of the next generation's Jewish identity. Some, who wouldn't speak for attribution, acknowledge that crisis in Israel may at least temporarily bring committed American Zionists running to Israel's defense. But, they add, carnage and aggression don't make for good advertising for the youngsters whose hearts they wish to capture.

And, obviously, violence makes life untenable for the Israelis and the Palestinians who are caught up in the brutalities. That simple fact will eventually get the parties back to negotiations, some community leaders say. "The current situation is not just a speed bump, it's a disaster of significant proportions," says Rosenblum. "But Israel cannot have security with long-term occupation. At the end of the day, there will be a Palestinian state with economic viability and contiguous territory, so settlements will be removed and there will be an agreement on Jerusalem. But no one can negotiate in a situation of wholesale collapse, so what's needed now is a set of confidence-building measures on both sides." And, one might add, confidence-building measures for American Jews.

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