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Why the American Jewish Distancing from Israel Is So Heartbreaking

From some of its founding ideas to some of its most thoughtful and essential institutions, American Jews have given the Jewish state much to be proud of.

Crowds await Israel’s Declaration of Independence, written with the help of an American Jew. Independence Hall/Beit Haatzmaut Museum.

Crowds await Israel’s Declaration of Independence, written with the help of an American Jew. Independence Hall/Beit Haatzmaut Museum.

Last Word
May 30 2017
About the author

Daniel Gordis is Koret Distinguished Fellow and chair of the core curriculum at Shalem College in Jerusalem. His new book, Israel: A Concise History of a People Reborn, won the Jewish Book Council’s “Book of the Year” award for 2016.


I’m grateful to Hillel Halkin, Evelyn Gordon, and Jordan Chandler Hirsch for their enlightening responses to my essay. All four of us entertain slightly differing views on the current disconnection between American Jews and Israel, and ascribe to it somewhat disparate causes, but we’re in agreement not only that the divide is widening but (in contradistinction to many other commentators) that the principal reason for this state of affairs lies not in Israel’s policies but in what is happening in American Jewish life.

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More about: American Jews, American-Israeli Affairs, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Particularism, Universalism