Iran is just short of becoming a nuclear power, and nearly every nation on earth is worried. Israel worries most of all. Nuclear weapons will afford Iran the means to deliver on its threat to "wipe Israel off the map," as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad so cheerfully puts it.
Children throughout the Middle East already study maps with a hole in them where Israel used to be. Some are tempted to dismiss Ahmadinejad as a blowhard and a clown, but he's a credible and loud voice to the millions of angry Muslims surrounding the only democracy in the Middle East.
Israel is the "Little Satan," secure from the rage of its enemies so long as the "Big Satan" guarantees it, and the guarantee is safe so long as Jews remain strong in Israel's behalf. But there's an angry buzz in the media and in certain academic covens that Jewish support for Israel is declining -- and may be on the way to collapse.
The strength and depth of the buzz is traced in an essay by Peter Beinart in the New York Review of Books, headlined, "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment." Beinart attends an Orthodox synagogue, though he is not an Orthodox Jew himself, and he draws his conclusions from surveys of opinions of young American Jews, many of them on the campuses of our most prestigious colleges.
The surveys demonstrate that young secular leftist Jews, who can't remember a Middle East without a strong Israeli state, have separated themselves from the sympathetic attitudes of their parents and grandparents. They're two generations removed from the Holocaust and from knowing American Jews who fled to America to escape the Nazis or who left close relatives behind. They feel no exhilaration in the accounts of how President Truman ordered the recognition of Israel 11 minutes after it declared itself a nation in 1948. They never felt the fear for the future of the Jewish nation when Arab armies went to war against the new nation the very next day.
These young secular Jews grew up reading the "Diary of Anne Frank" -- but as literature, not history. But it occurs to few of them to say "there but for the grace of God go I." Ann Frank, tragic though her story is, was long ago and far away.
Two years ago, the student Senate at Brandeis University, the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored university in America, refused even to observe the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state. My mother-in-law, for whom Israel and Brandeis were among her favorite charities, is spinning beneath the sod: How could this happen?