35 Pages

The "New Jewish Politics" in the United States

Historical Perspectives
ByPeter Y. Medding

The authority structure of American Jewry has changed little since the advent of the new Jewish politics. It is characterized by diversity and organizational autonomy. To be sure, rationalization and unity at the top levels of the Jewish community structure have increased somewhat, but lines of authority remain more implicit than explicit and exist more in informal organizational arrangements than in formal agreements or institutional structures. The American Jewish community may not be able to settle such problems. On the one hand, a variety of American Jewish opinions about Israeli actions may signal the further Americanization of Jewish concerns, adding Israel to the list of political issues about which Jews can disagree. Indeed, such dissent may buttress claims for greater American support for the Jewish state by showing that American Jews reach their pro-Israel position through mutual discussion and persuasion, not automatic, reflex reactions.