EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: While the Trump presidency has forced clarity in the US on many domestic and foreign policy issues, the status of Israel in American politics and culture reveals different visions of America itself. One, for lack of a better term, is traditionally American. The other is decidedly “progressive.” But according to both, Israel is mythical and outsized.
On a superficial level, the American divide regarding Israel’s status in US politics is about the role of Jews as a minority. According to one view, Jews are increasingly viewed as white, wealthy, and thus inherently racist, with indefensible connections to an Israel that is a colonial outpost of the imperial West. It is, as Michelle Alexander put it in The New York Times, “one of the great moral challenges of our time.”
The policy implications are stark. Thus, in Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour’s view, “on an issue like Palestine, you gotta choose the side of the oppressed… and if you’re on the side of the oppressor, or you’re defending the oppressor, and you’re actually trying to humanize the oppressor, then that’s a problem, sisters and brothers, and we’ve gotta be able to say ‘That is not the position of the Muslim-American community.’”