by Michele Lipori. Confronti Editorial Staff
In his article published by CNN on May 18, Samuel G. Freeman, a journalist and professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, analyzes how American Jews are reacting to the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas in the Strip. Gaza. What is recorded is, to put it in the words of Steven T. Rosenthal, an ever more inexorable “decline in the love affair between American Jews and Israel.”
But, according to the CNN article, it would be a mistake to consider the current position of American Jews as an anomaly. In fact, despite the fact that in the past there have been protests in favor of Israel and its “right to self-defense,” the seeds of dissent long ago began to take root since the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the first intifada of the late ‘80s.
This trend is inevitably reflected in the voting preferences of American Jews. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, as of 2020, about one in five American Jews say the United States is “too supportive” of Israel. Meanwhile, American Jews who say the United States “isn’t supportive enough of Israel” dropped to 19 percent, a 12-point drop since 2013.
According to Freeman, one of the main causes of the acceleration of this departure is to be attributed to the role played by two emblematic and extremely divisive figures: former US President Donald Trump and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A year before Trump won the election, Netanyahu challenged the second term of US president, Barack Obama, by accepting the invitation of Republican leaders to denounce Obama’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran in front of a joint session of Congress. Also, according to the Columbia University professor, once in the White House, Trump gave everything to Netanyahu in exchange for nothing. He moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, and reduced American diplomatic engagement with the Palestinian Authority—all without asking the Israeli prime minister to make real concessions to the Palestinians.
Finally, the so-called Abrahamic Agreements—mediated by Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner—resulted in Israeli diplomatic relations with four Muslim nations (Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco) in exchange for the meager promise to suspend the new annexation to the West Bank. Even more insidiously, the agreements reinforced the Right-wing idea in both Israel and America that somehow the Palestinian national movement had almost disappeared.
Despite all of this, Trump only received about 30% of the Jewish vote in 2020, a percentage well below the usual trend in Republican presidential candidates over the past 50 years. This figure is reflected in the Pew Research Center survey, which found that a minority of respondents approved of Netanyahu’s work (40%) and considered Trump a “friend of American Jews” (31%).