Childhood friends Elise Goldin and Emma Furman grew up in Evanston, Ill., in homes where supporting Israel was seen as a bedrock of American Jewish life. While both say they cherish the Jewish values ingrained in them by Passover Seders and temple services, now, in their early 30s, they’re sharply critical of Israeli policies. “When I look at Israel, I see a different set of laws for Jews and non-Jews, different policing, different court systems,” says Goldin, who works as a community organizer in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I find that extremely oppressive.”
The two women are part of a shift among Jewish liberals—71% of U.S. Jews identify as Democrats— and Democratic voters more broadly. Baby boomers have tended to view Israel as an embattled country struggling to survive in a hostile region. And while that’s still the prevailing view among centrist Democrats and Republicans, a growing number of progressive younger Democrats see Israel as a military power mistreating a dispossessed population.
A Pew Research Center survey of American Jews conducted in 2019 and 2020 and released in May reflects the generational divide: About 37% of Jews under 30 said the U.S. is too supportive of Israel, compared with only 16% of Jews 65 and older. Likewise, while two-thirds of Jews age 65 and older said they were “somewhat” or “very” attached to Israel, just under half of those age 18 to 29 did.
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