“Trouble in the Tribe” talks changing opinions on Israel by American Jewish communities


Dov Waxman, a professor at Northeastern University, spoke to UConn students on Thursday about his book “Trouble of the Tribe.” (Photo courtesy of Northeastern) 

The author of “Trouble in the Tribe,” discussed the American Jewish communities ever changing opinions on Israel, Thursday night at the University of Connecticut.

Dov Waxman, a professor at Northeastern University, expanded upon many of the points discussed in his book, providing invaluable insight into how the American Jewish communities’ views have changed over time, and why they had changed.  

Waxman began his lecture by describing the recent disconnect between the American-Jewish community and Israel. Waxman had noticed in his research that American Jews had become increasingly critical of Israeli politics when compared to the strong support from earlier generations. Waxman cites three big changes that may have caused this shift; the change in Israeli political ideals to a predominantly Right Wing state, the ever changing yet pertinent Arab-Israeli conflict and the changes in how this conflict is enacted by both parties.

Waxman credited the ease of obtaining media as another potential reason for this shift. According to Waxman, it was more difficult to keep up with Israeli news in the United States before the internet. Because of the internet, members of the American Jewish community have more access to international news in real time, allowing them to form an opinion based upon current events as they unfold.

Another interesting point articulated by Waxman was regarding the differing views on Israel within the Jewish community. Waxman stated that Orthodox Jews and non-orthodox Jews tended to have varying ideals on Israeli politics. According to Waxman, Orthodox Jews tended to be more conservative, while non-Orthodox Jews were overwhelmingly liberal. Waxman also cited this political divide as another reason for the shifting opinion of Israel within American Jewish communities.

Eighth-semester political science major, Darren Cook, had read Waxman’s book and came to the lecture to expand upon what he had read. “It’s a very unique insight onto the aspects of the U.S.- Israeli relationship that we don’t really cover in class, from the American Jewish perspective,” said Cook. “He definitely has a very unique insight, and gave a lot of useful information.”

After Waxman had finished his lecture, the floor opened for questions. Attendees asked Waxman for the opinions of other Jewish diasporas, his personal opinion on the Israeli-Palestine conflict and why Israel valued the opinion of the American Jewish community so highly. The final question asked was particularly interesting, as it regarded President Donald J. Trump’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The attendee who asked the question wanted to know Waxman’s take on the situation and how it affects U.S. and Israeli relations.

Waxman’s lecture was highly informative and well researched. It was obvious to those in attendance that he is passionate about Judaism and the conflict. Waxman kept his lecture focused, void of his own opinion on the changing Israeli government. This allowed Waxman to present his findings objectively and without the bias of his own political beliefs.

As the relationship between Israel and the U.S. becomes increasingly publicized in politics, Waxman’s “Trouble in the Tribe” can help explain the American Jewish community’s ever changing opinion on Israel.  

Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lauren.brown@uconn.edu.

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