Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Back to Opinion

An Israeli Progressive Wonders at the Silence of American Jewish Liberals

If you’re not familiar with Coteret.com, you should be. It’s a must-read group blog by young Israeli progressives. Most of what they do is translating important news and analysis from the Hebrew press that doesn’t appear anywhere else in English. The blog also posts original musings.

This one is a month old, but worth the read:”Liberal Jews and Israel — A case of split personality disorder.” It’s by Noam Sheizaf, a member of the Coteret collective. He’s looking at the inability of American Jewish liberals to acknowledge and talk about Israel’s flaws. What’s most striking about it is not his analysis of the phenomenon, but simply his description of it as it appears to an Israeli, and his obvious distress over the fact.

Sheizaf opens with a description of a conversation with an American. He observes that with few exceptions, American Jews look on apathetically, or disbelieving, at Israeli actions that would have them leaping to the barricades if they occurred in America — for example, the arrest of a woman for wearing a tallis while praying at the Cotel. He writes:

I’ve became more aware of this issue myself since I started writing this blog. Things I say or write which are well within the public debate in Israel are sometimes viewed as outrageous by American Jewish readers; at the same time, events which would make the same readers furious if they happened in the US – for example, the Israeli municipality which tried to prevent Arabs from dating Jewish girls – are met with indifference.

Naturally, I’m generalizing here. Between millions of Jews you can obviously find all kinds of voices – and this is part of the reason I hesitated before writing this post – but I think one can recognize some sort of mainstream opinion within the Jewish community, which both echoes the official Israeli policies, regardless of the identity of the government in Jerusalem, and at the same time, turns a blind eye on events which might distort the image of Israel which this community holds. And this is something which is hard to understand.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.