Foreign Policy gathered eight prominent figures in the Jewish community to discuss Peter Beinart's recent essay, and whether the ties that bond American Jews to Israel remain strong.
Mainstream pro-Israel organizations are in fact booming, thank you. AIPAC's income from donations is now five times what it was in 2000, and sixty times what it was when I joined the organization in 1982. It is growing commensurately in membership (including young people) and influence too. The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee are also roaring tigers.
The New York Review of Books, largely a publication for disaffected Jews, generously offers a path for pro-Israel organizations to save themselves by joining the campaign to discredit Israel. This to recruit members who, by Beinart's own account, hardly care about Israel at all.
Is there in fact a trend to disaffection? Or is J Street just the latest in the succession of Breira, New Jewish Agenda, Peace Now, Tikkun Olam, Israel Policy Forum, and all the others that rose and fell noisily while AIPAC quietly built itself into the giant it is today?
My own impression is that the post-Iraq disaffection of some young Jews today is in fact less, rather than more, pronounced than the Vietnam distress that afflicted many when I first got involved. There's nothing new about a minority of Jews disliking Israel -- except all the attention they are getting.
Steven Rosen is director of the Washington Project at the Middle East Forum and a former foreign-policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)