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Perspectives from the Jewish World on Israel's Political Isolation

Today marks six months since the Hamas pogrom reignited painful historical memories across the Jewish world, memories that many had hoped were left in the past. The initial wave of sympathy and support for Israel following the events of October 7th has, regrettably, given way to severe criticism and a notable uptick in anti-Semitic incidents. This shift has left many Jews feeling besieged, and being exposed to accusations related to the war or allegations of disloyalty to their countries. This sense of betrayal extends from personal to institutional levels, encompassing colleagues and governments alike.

The roots of this reality predate October 7th, emerging from long-standing trends that include a significant rise in online incitement and fake news. In the past few years, with very little Jewish pushback, the portrayal of Jews as privileged became entrenched in various sectors including academia, media, labor unions, and politics, leading to a diminished urgency in addressing antisemitism. Concurrently, the social norms that historically mitigated antisemitism have weakened.

At the same time, anti-Israel Islamist groups in Western countries have become more institutionalized, further embedding themselves within political and social frameworks, particularly among the left. This evolution has made distancing from Israel a prerequisite for acceptance within many progressive and liberal circles.

The challenge extends beyond conventional antisemitism to include a trend of erasure or marginalization. Public expressions of Jewish identity, such as the removal of menorahs from academic institutions in Canada, have become contentious, with many feeling compelled to denounce Israel to maintain their social standing or in some cases, their jobs. In this climate, Israel's attempts to expose the responsibility of Hamas to the humanitarian situation in Gaza is largely failing.

Isolation israel

The alienation from Israel is not limited to the progressive margins but also affects long standing allies, signifying the emergence of an anti-Israel zeitgeist. High-profile criticisms, such as that from Nancy Pelosi and other US Congress members, along with condemnations from international leaders, reflect this shift. These actions, while not inherently antisemitic, contribute to the perception of Israel under siege, exacerbating the global Jewish community's sense of insecurity and anxiety.

We believe that no Israeli government could have managed the course of the war much differently. Yet, the current Israeli government must face a critical moment of introspection, recognizing areas where its actions, or lack thereof, have escalated tensions unnecessarily. This assessment is essential for addressing the underlying issues and moving forward (see here)

Despite the efforts of numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to address these challenges, the combination of distressing imagery from Gaza and the scale of anti-Israel sentiment leaves many feeling overwhelmed and powerless. The inadequate handling of the diplomatic arena by the State of Israel, coupled with a collective inability to effectively counteract rising antisemitism, exposes both Israel and the Jewish community to increased hostility and delegitimization, marking a stark reversal from the solidarity initially seen in October.

On the meaning for the Israeli government, we have written here. Future publications will outline recommended strategies for the Jewish community to combat this wave of antisemitism. 

At this juncture, it is crucial to recognize that the perceived unified front of antisemitism comprises distinct challenges, each with its own sources and strategies for response.


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