Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End
Norman G. Finkelstein
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Traditionally, American Jews have been broadly liberal in their political outlook; indeed African-Americans are the only ethnic group more likely to vote Democratic in US elections. Over the past half century, however, attitudes on one topic have stood in sharp contrast to this groups generally progressive stance: support for Israel.Despite Israels record of militarism, illegal settlements and human rights violations, American Jews have, stretching back to the 1960s, remained largely steadfast supporters of the Jewish homeland.
But, as Norman Finkelstein explains in an elegantly-argued and richly-textured new book, this is now beginning to change.Reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations, and books by commentators as prominent as President Jimmy Carter and as well-respected in the scholarly community as Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Peter Beinart, have increasingly pinpointed the fundamental illiberalism of the Israeli state. In the light of these exposes, the support of America Jews for Israel has begun to fray. This erosion has been particularly marked among younger members of the community. A 2010 Brandeis University poll found that only about one quarter of Jews aged under 40 today feel very much connected to Israel.
In successive chapters that combine Finkelsteins customary meticulous research with polemical brio, Knowing Too Much sets the work of defenders of Israel such as Jeffrey Goldberg, Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Benny Morris against the historical record, showing their claims to be increasingly tendentious. As growing numbers of American Jews come to see the speciousness of the arguments behind such apologias and recognize Israels record as simply indefensible, Finkelstein points to the opening of new possibilities for political advancement in a region that for decades has been stuck fast in a gridlock of injustice and suffering.
Nations were to abandon or compromise this principle” (ibid.); cf. para. 49, “it is indispensable to an international community of States—if it is not to follow the law of the jungle—that the territorial integrity of every State be respected, and the occupation by military force of the territory of one State by another not be condoned.” The president of the General Assembly noted in his synopsis of the debate at the Special Session, “[T]here is virtual unanimity in upholding the principle that
Palestinian veto on their expansion. Moreover, if Palestinian acceptance of the Oslo Accord failed to halt settlement expansion, it is unclear why their acceptance of Camp David would have. 90 Ibid., p. 89. 91 At one point Ross alleges that Arafat tacitly acquiesced in settlement expansion (ibid., p. 195; for the identical claim, see Indyk, Innocent Abroad, pp. 71-72, 118-19). Why Arafat would be indifferent to Israel’s dismemberment of the territory he aspired one day to govern goes
provide response time in case of infiltration, can be overcome by the reinforcement of the obstacle near Israeli towns. Distancing the planned route from Israeli towns in order to seize distant hilltops with topographical control is unnecessary, and has serious consequences for the length of the separation fence, its functionality, and for attacks on it. In an additional affidavit . . ., members of The Council for Peace and Security stated that the desire of the commander of the area to prevent
Kissinger counseled President Richard Nixon, “if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.”124 Every reconstruction of the 2003 war places Cheney and Rumsfeld at the helm of the decision-making process.125 But this duo “were not known as neoconservatives before their tenures,”126 and Jewish solidarity plainly was not their thing. (Israel rates only passing mention in Cheney’s memoir,127 and even less mention in Rumsfeld’s.) How then could the Israel
produce a core consensus for resolving the conflict. “Mutual recognition of Arabs and Israelis proved to be irreversible,” he cheerfully reports. “There has been no return to the mutual rejection and denial of the past. Moreover, a new consensus emerged among Israelis and Palestinians and internationally as well on the essential requirement for peace; two states, Israel and Palestine, coexisting and living in secure and recognized borders.”106 This narrative conflicts at nearly every point with