The Pro Israel Community: Navigating the George Floyd Protests, Corona & Annexation
Point of View no. 86 - The Grand Pivot
The confluence of the George Floyd protests with the coronavirus pandemic may herald a global ‘paradigm shift ’and change the map of threats facing Israel and Jewish communities worldwide. These changes require a significant adaptation or as we refer to it, ‘a grand pivot.’
As minority politics challenges white hegemony, Jews find themselves in a quagmire: While many identify with the struggle against systemic racism, Jewish socio-economic privilege and ‘whiteness ’fuels ideological disagreements and anti-Semitism. Indeed, anti-Israel groups strive to draw parallels between the police brutality in the U.S to Israeli conduct towards the Palestinians.
The pro-Israel communal approach towards the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement may have a far reaching impact on the status of these organizations within liberal circles. The decentralized nature of BLM, the authentic face of the protests, makes many organizations associated with the movement theoretically ‘engageable ’despite the anti-Israel positions of some of their members.
Bolstering Jewish community relations organizations, which focus on building relationships with outside groups may allow the Jewish community to restore its position among liberal and progressive circles, and change their common perceptions on Israel. Jewish organizations could build on their history of advocating for criminal justice reform, showing up as credible and legitimate allies to other disempowered populations.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus and the George Floyd protests are broadening the gap between Israel and U.S Jewry. Although it seems to be a tactical and temporary ‘time-out, ’powerful trends are expanding the gap between Israel and world Jewry, putting stress on this already fragile relationship. Against this backdrop, Israel’s potential annexation of parts of the West Bank will be interpreted as a "point of no return” for certain segments of world Jewry.
Pro-Israel leaders feel as if they are fighting a rearguard battle: on the one hand, many of them oppose annexation, as it means losing control over their fundamental Zionist narrative that Israel is a democracy seeking peace; on the other hand, they carry a unique responsibility to dismantle the point of “no return” dynamic within the Jewish communities, that could lead to a beyond-repair rupture within the Jewish People.
Finally, the pro-Israel community needs to engage in a process of ongoing learning in these volatile times that will enable the repositioning of the community’s place in the U.S and beyond, particularly within liberal and progressive circles. In rare moments of historical shifts, there exists greater reception to new conceptual frameworks and narratives.
The Reut Group is a recipient of the The Genesis Prize as part of “Speak Out for #Israel,” a global initiative in honor of 2019 Laureate Robert Kraft to combat anti-Semitism and efforts to de-legitimize Israel, both of which are on the rise again during coronavirus.