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Israeli and American Jews: The Grand Canyon

It was one of those encounters that had happened to me so many times on book tour in America: the car ride back to my hotel from the Jewish Community Center after a few hours of lecturing, answering questions and signing books. Usually, the drivers in these short rides were enthusiastic volunteers who were fans and /or members of the book committee that had invited me in the first place.

This ride was no different. Slim, pretty, with expensive diamond rings, driving the latest hybrid, my driver spoke to me knowledgeably about my books and about her community. She expected to be book committee chairwoman in the coming year, she said proudly. And she was on her way to Israel in the next two weeks – her first visit — to see Israeli daycare centers for which she had been actively fundraising.

I smiled at her, grateful for the lift, and the enthusiasm. We talked for a few minutes about the security situation in Israel. And I casually remarked that we were really, really lucky that Netanyhu had been reelected and was in charge to handle the situation, rather than some clueless member of the Israeli Left. “At least now they aren’t able to blow up buses the way they were when ‘Peace Now’-ers were in power. You know, I and my family were at the Park Hotel in 2002. Abd El-Basset Oudeh drove from Tul Karem into Netanya because the Oslo Accords prevented Israel from putting up sufficient checkpoints. At least now it’s one man, one knife, that you can see coming.”

I said it completely off the cuff, almost as a sigh, not seeing anything at all controversial in such a statement, the truth of which would be clearly obvious to every average Israeli, who have abandoned the Israeli Left in droves.

She was silent for a moment, then shook her head. “He [Netanyahu] shouldn’t have come to America. He shouldn’t have addressed Congress. It polarized American Jews, politicizing the support for Israel,” she said emphatically.

“I think it’s been politicized for a long time,” I answered drily. “Democrats voted for Obama. Republicans didn’t.”

That seemed to surprise her. “So, Israelis don’t like Obama?”

“They hate his guts.”

She shrugged. “Yes, I can understand that. What do you think happened to him?” She seemed honestly bewildered.

“Nothing happened to him. Anyone who did the slightest bit of research understood that he had been a member of an anti-Semitic church for twenty-five years; a church that gave an award to Louis Farrakhan.”

I could have gone on, and on, and on, listing all the anti-Israel aides and advisors Obama had surrounded himself with pre-election, his Muslim roots, but I figured: why bother? Obama, after almost eight years in office in which he’d cozied up to Turkey’s Erdogan, snubbed Israel in horrendous ways according to her former Ambassador Michael Oren, refused to fight ISIS, pushed through the horrible nuclear accord with Iran that endangered Israel’s very existence, had pretty much proved on his own merits where he stood. At least to people like me.

She bristled.

If I’d had any doubts, her reaction put them to rest. She had been one of the 70 percent of American Jews to vote Democrat and elect Obama. Twice.

“You know, American Jews vote for the things that are important to them. Those are not always the same things that are important to Israelis.”

I looked surreptitiously at my watch, calculating how much more time we would be locked into this conversation. Too long to say nothing. So I ventured mildly: “What is important to you?”

“Well, women’s rights, reproductive rights. The environment. And fighting the evangelicals.”

I suddenly remembered something my Harvard-educated son recently told me: “Many American Jews will blindly follow any agenda created by the Liberal establishment because it makes them feel virtuous and like part of the in-crowd.”

“So,” I said unwisely, my temperature rising, “let me get this straight. You’re worried about abortions, climate change and being converted to Christianity?” I didn’t let her answer. “And those things are more vital, more important to you, than whether Israel’s greatest enemy gets an atom bomb to blow the next six million Jews off the face of the earth?”

“Obama said he got the best deal possible!”

“And what do you say about those videos of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts?”

“They were obviously doctored by the Republicans,” she almost shouted, no longer a fan.

Just at that moment, the hotel loomed into view. I thanked her for the ride, opening the door and stepping out as swiftly as possible. Before I closed the door, I turned back and looked at her.

“Please,” I begged her. “Don’t vote for Hillary.”

It was the last straw. “She’s better than Trump!”

“I don’t think so,” I told her with full confidence.

She rolled her eyes. I rolled mine.

And then the door slammed shut, and she disappeared in one direction, and I in another.

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42 comments on “Israeli and American Jews: The Grand Canyon”

  1. Revital HN

    Hi Naomi.
    Everyday I’m more impressed by you.
    It has been for me, a bitter discovery the American Jews thriving on their own cloud so far apart from everything we have ever been educated to believe about Jewish accountability and ואהבת לרעך כמוך and המציל נפש אחת בישראל in Israel.
    I don’t think they have it…
    I’ve found them חיים על סיר הבשר של מצריים
    I even don’t know how to describe my feelings gracefully.
    שתזכי לחיים טובים וארוכים. מגיע לך כל רגע

    • Surak

      I was just wondering what would be the reaction of the Jews if the president of the United States ran a scorched-earth campaign to deliver $150 billion to the Ku Klux Klan, threatening to wipe some black nation off the earth. We would be righteously indignant, and properly so. But the majority of American Jews are willing to sell out Israel in a second Holocaust, God forbid, for the sake of their false god of socialism. I know the type very well. You can quote the NY Times, that covered up the original Holocaust, and that CAMERA and Honest Reporting find to be America’s most anti-Israel newspaper.

    • Channah

      No, Obama is no friend of Israel. The NYT is anti- Israel as well, and if you read the article carefully, you find that BHO withheld his support for UN condemnations of Israel in the hopes it would help bring about the two state “solution”. However, anyone who knows Israel and who lives in Israel should realize the impossible situation that would result from giving the heartland to sworn enemies of Israel. As the PA has stated, they don’t want a piece of Israel, but to destroy it and such an agreement would be a step in that direction. BHO by his pressure on Bibi has limited home-building in much of Israel and the result has been high prices and the inability of many of us to buy a home. This pressure has increased during BHO’s term. He has not been a friend of Israel and to be called such by the NYT is more of their anti-Semitic lying.

      • Dalya Horowitz

        I couldn’t agree with you more. Whether Obama is an anti-Semite can be debated. What we DO know is that he is no friend of Israel. The reply by Marsha shows the intelligence of his supporters.

  2. Dalya Horowitz

    WOW – it is interesting and enlightening to read people’s comments. I cannot fathom how any Jew in America or anywhere else for that matter, can think that reproductive rights or global warming take precedence over Israel’s existence. Whether it is denial or ignorance, it makes me so angry!

    It especially makes me angry when I see rabbis too cowardly to stand up and support Israel because some member of their congregation would not approve of it.

    I am a docent at a large Holocaust Museum and I can tell you that many, many German Jews were Germans first, caring little about their Judaism. Even the ignorant ones eventually understood what hitler had in store for them. If they had Israel to go to they would have escaped hitler’s solution for them. How important would reproductive rights or global warming have been when you’re being led to the slaughter.

    Remember – you can define yourself all you want and think that you don’t want to relate to being Jewish but when the anti-Semites get power THEY define you and you have no choice. German Jews learned that the hard way. It is difficult to believe that the majority of America’s Jewish population is doing the same thing.

    Israel is not only a land where we Jews can always be Jews and a haven for persecuted refugees, Israel is, in contrast to the lies you hear and read, a light unto the nations. So much is being done in Israel in science, technology, medicine which the entire world benefits from.

    I am proud to be Jewish and proud that Israel is my homeland. I would never vote for obama or hillary. We all knew who they were years ago. The Jews are being sold down the river by the democratic party and the people who support them are writing their own demise.

    Good for you, Naomi Ragen. I’m so glad you didn’t just ride along and keep your mouth shut so as to get along. I support you 100%.

  3. Surak

    Every time I think I can’t get more aghast, I am mistaken. Mrs. Ragen’s interlocutor, fanny, Max, gigi, etc. are clones of my family members. They are in a rage about something – maybe that the glorious revolution hasn’t yet taken place. A second Holocaust, God forbid? Not as important as preserving the right to vivisection and the disproven hoax of global warming. Truly, leftism is a mental illness. I will accept, reluctantly, your right to commit suicide. Please don’t take me down with you.

    I am supporting Trump. Israel has a strict immigration policy, like most countries in the world. Why can’t America say: we don’t want more jihadists and gang rapists?

    As we discuss these matters on some of the conservative blogs, I read puzzled Christian Zionists asking over and over: why do they support Israel more than the American Jews do?

    My 18 year old nephew has never been allowed one hour of Jewish education by his parents or grandparents. The NYT, NPR, and MSNBC are treated with as much reverence as I have for the Torah, and vice-versa.

    My former traditional synagogue is bickering over who is allowed to read the Torah for the congregation. Actually observing its laws? Please!

    I feel that the Ru’ach Qodesh (holy spirit) is slowly withdrawing from the galuth (exile). Should I make aliyah? I’m not sure the Israeli government is prepared to defend the lives of Jews and the rights of Jews.

    I pray that the election of Trump will herald a strengthening of resolve in the civilized world to confront and stop evil, particularly jihad and its enabler, leftism.

  4. Marsha Roth

    I’ve know since 2000 that you can’t talk politics to American Jews. We here in Israel are a bird of a different feather. Our reality is too far removed from theirs. We keep trying as does Mr. Netanyahu. How sad but true we are not even close to “We are one” as a people.

  5. mass waysenson

    seulement BRAVO et félicitations
    j’apprécie vos livres et j’admire votre courage contre la stupidité et l’inculture de nombreux Juifs Américains et leur aveuglement
    L’Amérique doit se réveiller d’un cauchemar et nous entrainer EN AVANT KADIMAH….!!!
    vos livres sont toujours un enchantement à la découverte de l’insolite.

  6. Mrs. Bunny L. Shuch

    Dear Naomi,

    Not all American Jews think the way your driver does. My husband and I applaud your article and hope that the Jews who voted for Obama will wake up in time for the next election. Otherwise, both the United States and Israel will be in trouble. At least the Israeli government is working on developing ties with other possible allies among the nations.

    I periodically write letters to our Congressmen/women and Senators in support of Israel and in support of policies that will strengthen our country (the US) and keep it safe, but find it almost impossible to discuss these matters with friends or relatives who, like your driver, are more concerned with women’s right to abortion and the voting “rights” of illegal immigrants than they are with the safety of the Jewish people. This is sad, but we also have friends and relatives who see things as they are and work for the security of both the US and Israel.

    I think that many people in this country are waking up and hopefully we’ll have a good president the next time around. (I prefer Cruz or Rubio, but would vote for Trump if he’s the Republican candidate. I’m in my seventies and was a lifelong Democrat until Obama, for whom I did not vote for the reasons you mentioned in your article.)

  7. Elizabeth


    I live in the US south. My youngest son found his Brooklyn apartment on Craigslist and thus became one of the few non-Muslims in his neighborhood of Palestinian immigrants. His older brother, USAF, had been deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, so I had great curiosity about a religion that motivated 9/ll. Besides experiences during my Brooklyn visits, I also began reading books and blogs about Arabs,Islam, etc. – see Hirsi Ali, Spencer, Ibrahim and so forth.

    Naomi, your former driver is in for a BIG surprise down the line if the immigration policies of Obama continue – promoting vast muslim immigration/marriage immigration, plus the wink-wink ignoring overstayed visas/student visas.

    Any American who thinks that Muslims wish to integrate into our western culture are sadly delusional. I experienced the freeze every day, and once was buffetted hard by a burka-clad individual, following by my stumbling into a wall. The Muslim women in my building ignored my friendly hello as we passed on the steps, never once making eye contact. (My readings explained that it is forbidden to befriend non-believers). Also, non-integration applies to marriage – VERY early marriage – arranged marriages of teenage sons/daughters to “Palestinian” 1st cousins was very popular – and soon the teenagers are a family of six, the veiled mothers unable to speak English, but paying for grocieries with food stamps, or getting free hospital care and prescription drugs with a Medicaid card.

    The phrase “land of the free, home of the brave, takes on new meaning when an insular foreign population is supported with free living by the brave working American taxpayers who experience food and medical insurance inflation and the hardship it creates. I can only view the US policy, if sustained, as unwise if not suicidal.

    The idea that one of your driver’s perceived enemies is evangelical Christians made me realize she suffers from derangement. These Americans support Israel faithfully, unlike the Islamic population Obama favors. During the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Israel, every Arab business on the block had a Naqba(?) poster. I asked one gentleman what that meant and he shook his said and said over and over – tragedy, tragedy!

  8. Linda Cohen

    Naomi, I 100% agree with you and could totally relate to this conversation that I , too, have had with fellow American Jews. Thank you for at least trying to enlighten her, although it seems almost hopeless when dealing with left liberal democrats.

    Please know there are other American Jews who agree with you and feel the same frustration you experienced.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with her and the rest of us.

  9. Pingback: What Would You Do To Fight Against America’s War on Israel? | Morning Meditations

  10. rochel

    Dear Naomi,
    It’s heartbreaking, so I stopped reading the comments after “Trump is a fascist, etc”. There is nothing new here, except I see it is a bottomless pit of stupidity from my co-religionists. For the record, I love Donald Trump. I fear he will be taken out by a combo of Hitlery’s death squads (how many people did Clinton’s have killed since Arkansas?) and RINO establishment who are more against the first person who actually has the capability and willingness to fix the disaster in washington than the destroyer-in-chief, obummer. Your driver’s RELIGION is not Judaism but progressivism/socialism/communism. My Russian colleagues cannot believe what this country has turned in to. They fled with the shirts on their backs the system we are becoming. Healthcare? any Canadian with $5 crosses the border to US to healthcare. And this is what we emulate? Your driver has no identification with Israelis, who are there for one reason, our religion, I believe she’s within spitting distance of bds. Please keep up the good work.

  11. Haya

    Naomi, thank you for exposing the American Jewish Goy! A sad commentary on how the American Jew is swallowed up by assimilation, a la pre-Nazi Germany and as Rabbi Kahane called us, “self hating Jews”. Haya

  12. gigi schlosberg\

    If you live in Israel and are Israeli, please vote for your politicans. I won’t tell you who. Also, don’t tell me an American Jew who to vote for, and why my concerns are less valid than yours. Of course, if you have fascist leanings, we know you will favor Trump, and that’s everyone’s problem.

  13. Beth Feldman

    Thank you Naomi as always!!!! I’m a great fan & my friends & I have met you several times!!
    Sorry for this incident. Some great comments especially the person who says your driver should have known your views!!!!

  14. Phil Cohen

    I think many Jews are genuinely liberal and naturally gravitate toward liberal values. It doesn’t seem to be an assimilation thing, wanting to be accepted. I don’t get that argument at all, actually.

    That said, the divide between Israel and American Jewry this piece identifies is real, and perhaps growing. It’s difficult to understand Arab intransigence here. It’s also difficult to absorb the urgency of Israel’s existence living 6000 miles away.

    This means that those who support Israel must ratchet up Israel advocacy, or make aliyah.

  15. Naomi Romm

    I feel your anger Naomi and would have reacted the same way. The pity is that these American Jews do not identify in any way with Israel except as a place to give charity. They have totally lost their way.

  16. Ari Trachtenberg

    What exactly did you accomplish … if you’re truly interested in getting through to the American Jewish community, you first need to take off your clothes and start clucking like a chicken under the table.

  17. Christine Jeschor

    It was encouraging to read your dialogue with this young driver, speaking truth to ignorance. I have had similar conversations with liberal friends and family members and also with strangers on the streets of London who wore anti-Israel T-shirts I could not ignore. There are times when enough is enough. Their response where all the same, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up”. The truth still needs to be told. Thank you so very much for always standing up for the truth.

  18. Beverley

    Oy vey – Fanny! It is people like you who really scare me. If Israel depended on support from thinkers like you then she would be in real danger. All Israel has to deal with now are fanatical Muslims who want to wipe her from the face of the earth. Jews like you are even more dangerous!

  19. Sara Yoel

    Hello again,
    I should have read the comments especially by Fanny before sending mine. Anyway, Fanny doesn’t speak for me as an Israeli/American. She is clueless and everything you described in your article.Israel would welcome her and America’s values but Israel can’t do it if the country will be destroyed. Hope Netanyahu doesn’t buckle and stays firm in his fight.

  20. Iris

    I’m slower than most. I voted for BO twice until my eyes opened. But I, and I think some other American Jews have finally woken up. The Iran deal, and the way BO treats Israel is making more of us aware. I am not alone in my community. Many Jews that I know are Republicans and would never vote for Hillary. One friend had a tee shirt that said, “A Jew voting for Obama is like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders.” I believe that goes for both current Democratic candidates, and I wish I had paid attention eight years ago.

  21. Sara Yoel

    Hello Ms. Regan,
    First, thank you for so many insightful articles which I read whenever possible.
    I have not read yet any of the comments before this, but I can tell you that living in the US for over 40 years and coming across ISRAELIS who think that Obama is “God’s gift on earth” disgusts me more than anything. Some are “Kibutzniks” owe can’t understand who Hitler or Stalin were all about (regarding Jews). The American Jews you spoke here about, are next in line, and I know some in my close circle of friends. This makes it very difficult to talk about other matter, if one wants to stay friends. But I wonder, are they going to watch my back when push comes to shove.
    Thank you again

  22. Cathy


    Thanks for speaking up for us Israelis. I’m so disgusted with American Jews, most of my family included. But what surprises me about this story is that the lady driver had read your books, yet seemed surprised by your views. How could she not know where you stand on these issues?

    I would like to hear more about your experience in the US and how you found the atmosphere, compared to the last time you visited. I sense there is a rude awakening coming to the US.

    • Naomi Ragen

      Hi Cathy,
      I wish I could say I see a sea change, but I don’t. American Jews who voted for Obama are still pretty much in the same mind set, except for a few of the more intelligent people who actually read and understand the news and are no longer swayed by liberal propaganda like Pravda on the Hudson (i.e. The New York Slimes, not a typo). But it’s the young, college-educated next generation that is most worrisome. Whatever their parents did to bring them up to be loyal Jews (if anything) didn’t work. They are like frost in the sun, and will disappear from the Jewish world, or worse, become enemies.

  23. Yossi Lupas

    Hi Naomi,
    What is the easiest (least expensive!) way to obtain your new book in Israel – I live in Bet Shemesh. Thanks. I could order from Amazon – but then hit with shipping charges. Does Steinmasky carry your new book?

  24. Victor

    Fanny, let me say I do not support Trump it is way to early to settle on any candidate. In the interest of fair disclosure however, I would vote for an orange can before I would vote for Mrs Clinton. Now as to the issues you raise…

    Legal definition of Racist “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” Note words all & specific, I believe the word you wish to use is prejudiced. i.e Fanny is prejudiced against Trump (could be a good or bad thing depending on the circumstance).

    Women’s rights and the unlimited ability to get rid of the unwanted product of consensual sex are not necessarily the same.

    Adults make many “risk and rewards” decisions everyday. Flying, driving a car having an operation. Environmental issues are no different, no one wants their children to drink dirty water or breath foul air. Knee jerk reactions without careful, full and careful consideration made in a panic, doomsday mode create
    our old friend “The unintended consequence.” Take DDT and the death of millions of Africans due to Malaria. This is well documented and easily confirmed with even a cursory Google search.

  25. Irmgard Gesund

    Dear Naomi,

    I think your Harvard-educated son’s observations about many American Jews wanting to appear virtuous and belonging to the “In-Group” were quite accurate in explaining their attitudes towards themselves, their Jewishness, and Israel. However, this certainly is not the last word on this sad subject, and many recent articles and books have appeared trying to explain it.

    Although I am well acquainted with this mindset, and upset to read about it in your article, I was very impressed by your vigorous, forceful defense of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel’s security needs. In true Israeli fashion, your response to your driver’s opinions were that you weren’t having it–you were willing to call a spade a spade. And I thought that was brave and wonderful!

    When Netanyahu’s American Jewish (as well as other) opponents seek to denigrate him and his warnings, I often think of Churchill and how the British public and upper classes reviled him when he tried repeatedly to warn them of Germany’s evil intentions. It took war to wake them up. What will it take this time,I wonder?

    Sometimes it may seem lonely to be back in this changed America for us, as well as for you. But not all of us are so deluded as some you have encountered. So please know how much you are loved and respected by many of us.

  26. Charmaine

    I am pleased that the 4 or 5 Americans who were imprisoned by Iran for doing nothing wrong are finally being released, but at what cost? 15 or more Islamic terrorists for 4 or 5 innocent Americans! Now that Iran gets its windfall 100+ BILLION bucks, will it be spent for peaceful endeavors (oh yea)! After monitoring the press accounts of this disgusting prisoner swap, I don’t hear any concern for Israel or how his Iran deal will further endanger Israel, thus making its future more uncertain. Could Obama have gotten them released much earlier? Were these people USED as pawns to make Obama appear to be a peace maker and release the landfall..HELL YES! Has anti-semitic Obama ever done anything to help Netanyahu and Israel..HELL NO!

  27. Barton Cobert

    Wow! Thank you! Absolutely spot on. Same thing in my temple in the US south in a very sophisticated university town. Makes me despair until I think about you, my cousins in Haifa and the Israelis who have common sense and will defend themselves in spite of many/most American Jews.

  28. linda

    Unfortunately liberal Jews are genetically wired to be the way they are.
    Nothing seems to get through to them….meaning facts.
    I was a Democrat voting for Gore and Kerry, because i was naive and believed the propaganda that all Repubs are mean, old people.
    Suddenly i woke up: Obama’s candidacy was a wake up call. Why didn’t liberals pick up on Obama’s background with his antisemitic ties to Jeremiah Wright’s & Farrakhan’s church, Bill Ayers and most of his associations?
    If a rabbi had addressed his congregation and shouted out “G-d damn America” Jews would have been out of the synagogue
    in seconds. Maybe these liberal, self hating Jews believe we Jews deserve what we’re getting.
    They have put our country and Israel in huge danger…and Hillary will be no different.
    And interestingly many of my liberal friends are voting for Trump.
    Naomi, your article/blog is spot on….it could have been any one of me and my friends speaking about the danger liberals’ naiveté have put us in.
    have bestowed on our country and Israel.

  29. Walt

    Thank you Naomi, for having the honesty to write clearly about this situation, this canyon, this divide, in points of view. It is not just the Israelis – in the Middle East – who don’t like Obama. The Egyptians share that dislike. If we could ask the Iranian students who, in 2009, sought U.S. support for their demonstrations against the regime there, but were ignored, we might find they feel the same. And there are others. I know a Jewish couple whose son went to school with one of Trump’s sons. They had praise for that young man, and his dad.

  30. Tb
  31. Tb

    Until American Jews understand that Obama courted the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of both Egypt andIsrael when he came to office, and thatthe MBs charter is to flood the west with Muslems to work towards Civilization Jihad until Sharia law replaced democracy and subjugated all non muslems, then they will blindly support leaders willing to put Israel and the free world at risk.

  32. Max

    I absolutely agree with the response above. We Jews should be the first to know that it’s only a matter of time until people as bigoted, racist and full of hatred as Trump and his followers will come after us next.

  33. Naomi

    Dear Fanny,
    Thank you so much for your comment. I rest my case.
    Best wishes,

    • Naomi

      Trump’s daughter is an Orthodox Jew. So are some of his grandchildren. He isn’t going after Jews so fast, not that it matters. You are both shockingly naïve and full of baseless, politically correct rhetoric based on nothing.

  34. fanny

    so disappointed in your views, anyone that has the gall to say that Trump is a better choice (than even the worst of his opponents) is a short-sighted demagogue. What is bad for the US is bad for Israel – and Trump is a fascist misogynist who is an embarrassment and an insult to our intelligence. Think about the fact that if you believe the Republicans and for that matter the Democrats twist the truth to suit their political ends then you better believe that Bibi is doing just that with his propaganda machine – that is what politicians do best. I worry every day about the survival of Israel, but it disappoints me to think that you of all people are not concerned about women’s reproductive rights and the environment. For G-d’s sake, Israel is a one of the worlds innovators on protecting the environment and you have written many with the theme of women’s rights – Israel is not just our homeland and haven it is also an example and I do not believe that Israeli’s would welcome a US without these same values.

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