Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – American Jews are growing sceptical of Israeli policies towards Palestinians and want limits on aid to prevent settlement growth
Mike Levinson has been pushing back for 40 years and finally thinks he might be getting somewhere.
“There’s a change and the politicians see it. I think it scares them,” said Levinson, holding a sign demanding “Stop Israeli settler violence” as he marched through New York on Thursday.
“There’s a tremendous change going on in the American Jewish community. There are a lot of Jews, especially young people, who are not so quick to automatically and unconditionally support everything that Israel does. People are accepting the fact that it’s OK to be Jewish and riticize Israel.”
Levinson, a Jewish New Yorker, began protesting against Israeli government policies during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. It’s been a long and often lonely road since then as he has sought to get his fellow Americans to pay attention to decades of Israeli occupation, military assaults on the West Bank and Gaza, and the unrelenting expansion of Jewish settlements.
“I hear it from them. They see social media, they’re checking out information coming from the Middle East. They don’t have to rely on the mass media here any more. They’re more keptical about what they hear from the politicians and mainstream Jewish groups,” he said.
Opinion polls suggest Levinson is right. A Gallup survey earlier this year found that for the first time more Democrats were sympathetic to the Palestinians than the Israelis by a margin of 11%, a significant shift from a decade ago.
In 2021, a Jewish Electorate Institute poll found that 58% of American Jewish voters support restrictions on US military aid to prevent Israel using it to expand West Bank settlements. One-third agreed that “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States” and one-quarter said that “Israel is an apartheid state”, numbers that shocked some Jewish community leaders.
Part of the shift has been driven by social media and the wide circulation of videos such as Israeli assaults on Gaza and the West Bank, the large-scale forced removal of Palestinians from the South Hebron hills, and armed Jewish settlers rampaging through Palestinian towns.