We all tend to look at our world and see it as unchanging (at least in the physical sense) – I am no exception to this rule. Yet when we start thinking about what we have read over the years, the illusion shatters. The Plate Tectonics for once, is a confirmed phenomenon which changed the face of our planet over a long period of time – from the original super continents to our present configuration of six continents...and it continues to do so – resulting in the fact that instead of standing on solid ground we're really the passengers on a very big platform moving at the speed of about 1 meter (3 feet) a year!
I also read recently a book called “the hidden History of mankind”, which puts for another intriguing theory that during the glaciations, the weight of the augmented ice cap depressed the northern part of the tectonic plates we live on and lifted the southern part – thus exposing large areas of what we consider today the ocean floor as dry land. They actually prove this theory with the findings of underwater archeology, a relatively new branch of science. And the geological theory is also sound and confirmed. The result is that whole civilizations could have thrived in what is today the ocean floor, only to be inundated during the end of the glacial era, maybe giving live to a collective memory that crystallized in the story of the Flood.
Since even the geological aspects of our planet are in fact changing, it is not surprise that the affairs of mankind are also in constant change. I read in a recent article on an Argentinean newspaper an interesting article about how the government in Buenos Aires is now distancing itself from Iran and re approaching Israel, something that would have been unthinkable even two months ago. In Israel, the government is bringing back to the fore an unlikely voice to point out that Arafat himself accepted the fact that Israel was the Nation State of the Jewish people!
The Arab world, Saudi Arabia in particular, is seeking a way to cooperate with the Jewish State because a new enemy – Iran – is rising its ugly head. Turkey, while still refusing publicly to re approach Israel and reestablish full diplomatic relations, is increasing its commerce and cooperation with Israel behind the scenes. Egypt, which until not very long ago was a rising Islamist power, it is now back to a level of cooperation with Israel matching, if not surpassing, the cooperation that existed under the rule of Hosni Mubarak.
All these changes are not coming out of the blue...they've been in the making for years – even if we didn't realized they were. In America, we have other changes in the making when it comes to Israel...
A recent Gallup poll of American attitudes toward Middle Eastern countries shows that Americans see Israel in a positive light by a whooping 72 %, a fact used by many pundits to claim that support for Israel in America is “unchanged”. When one reads the actual study, however, one discovers that the favorable view for Israel is 81 % among Americans 55 and older, 72 % among those between 35 and 54 and 64 % among those 18 to 34. By contrast, the Palestinian Authority is seen favorably by 19 % of Americans and when one looks at the details, they show that 16 % of Americans 55 or older see the PA positively, as do 18 % of those between 35 and 54 and 24 % of those between 18 and 34. While we can pat each other on the back for the fact that Israel enjoys such a wide support, the trend shows that the younger Americans are shifting in their opinions – and this is not the first poll to show it.
A major tectonic shift is happening in America's perception of Israel, and the epicenter is in College Campuses. As the anti Israel activists in College Campuses across America continue to grow in numbers and sophistication, our own Jewish students and other pro Israel groups remain complacent and feel secure with the assurance that 72 % of Americans view Israel on a positive light.
I'm sure that most of those who lived in those long ago drowned civilizations didn't see the need to move to higher ground until it was too late. While the stories of Noah and Ziusudra and Manu might not reflect an accurate historical event, their stories all agree that only one person (Noah in the Bible, Ziusudra in Babylonian lore and Manu in India) built a boat...
The groundswell of a changing perception of Israel among Americans is reflected in the Gallup Poll, as a growing detachment from Israel among American Jews was reflected on the recent Pew Research Portrait of Jewish Americans.
We do have a choice. Change doesn't happen overnight, it builds up over time. We are living in a moment of History when changes in perceptions about Israel and about Jews in America is becoming evident. How are we going, as a community, to address the challenge?