American Jews and Israel: A Relationship in Transition
April 19, 2015
The conference was conceived six months ago amid much discussion and hand-wringing over the future relationship between American Jews and Israel, specifically concerning young, liberal Jews and whether they would evince the same support and solidarity for Israel as did their parents. The occupation, the failure of the peace process, the role of Orthodoxy in Israel and other issues are some of the many causes of a burgeoning discontent between American Jewry and Israel. This conference will explore whether that relationship is really in a state of transition. It will also probe the distinction between attachment to and criticism of Israel, and explore detailed items such as the influence of intermarriage and the rise of Orthodoxy within American Jewry upon the relationship.
These and other issues have become even more acute since the conference planners began their work. Open disagreements between Obama and Netanyahu might well be the forerunner to a situation where American and Israeli strategic interests are not automatically aligned. Time has truly come for examination of where the relationship stands now and where it is headed. The timeliness of the discussion is evidenced by the remarkable response the Taub Center received when it announced the program for the conference – almost two times as many RSVPs as could normally be accommodated. The topic of the conference has clearly touched a nerve.
Session 1: American Jews and Israel – Trends and New Directions
Dov Waxman, Northeastern Univ.
Theodore Sasson, Brandeis Univ.
Steven M. Cohen, HUC-JIR
Moderator: Mijal Bitton, NYU
PDF of Session 1 Summary HERE
Session 2: Israel Experience and Israel Education
Shaul Kelner, Vanderbilt University
Yona Shem-Tov, Encounter
Bethamie Horowitz, NYU
Moderator: Lisa Grant, HUC-JIR
PDF of Session 2 Summary HERE
Session 3: Ties and Tensions: American Jewish Leadership and Israel
Joy Levitt, JCC of Manhattan
John Ruskay, Exec. VP Emeritus, UJA-Federation, NYC
David Ellenson, HUC-JIR
Moderator: Amir Shaviv, JDC
PDF of Session 3 Summary HERE
Ambassadors Panel Discussion: The View from Washington and Jerusalem
Itamar Rabinovich, Dan Kurtzer
Moderated by JJ Goldberg, The Forward
PDF of Panel Discussion Summary HERE