The latest battle in the ideological war over Israel/Palestine took place the other day at a high school outside Boston. Andover High had invited a pro-Palestinian group called Wheels of Justice to talk at the school. Local Jewish groups rose in opposition; the event was cancelled. Then the ACLU stepped in and the event took place, 300 people jammed into a library, with loud protest.
A few comments:
1. As Jimmy Carter has shown, there is a new actor on the political stage: liberal Christians. (Per the Globe):
Liberal Protestants used to be quiet about the Middle East, now they’re demanding to be heard; the Presbyterian church, for instance, is debating divestment. This is part of the rage at Jimmy Carter: rightwing Jews want to keep the Middle East club exclusive.
2. Contrast the liberal churches’ position with the strength that pro-Israel groups are drawing from the religious right. See Zev Chafets’s new book, A Match Made in Heaven, about evangelicals’ support for Israel, reviewed lately in Commentary Magazine. Chafets calls it the “wonderful Judeo-evangelical alliance.” I wonder how wonderful it is. To preserve Israel from criticism, the American-Jewish community is being drawn further and further right.
3. The Globe article features a student at Andover High calling for a balanced panel discussion of the issues, rather than “just” Wheels for Justice. The pity to me here is that a Jewish kid is being mobilized in an argument about a country he probably has never been to, and whose apartheid-like practices he has no idea of. The pressure on Jewish kids these days is sure intense! I feel for them. When I was a little Jewish kid, I was protesting the Vietnam War with my parents and hearing about the Freedom Riders. What larks! True enough, I was being indoctrinated, too, but it was a hopeful set of values, one I still choose to embrace, liberal universalist ideas going back to abolitionism. These kids are being indoctrinated in a narrower set of religious-nationalist values: basically, Arabs Bad, Israelis Good.