Ethan Bronner, I'm confused: "Many American Jews consider the Netanyahu government to be too hawkish, and the conversion controversy is seen by some analysts here and in the United States as a proxy for a broader set of disagreements, including settlement building and the Gaza blockade." Such as: "'There is increasing discomfort among American Jews with Israel,' commented Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, which is devoted to exploring Jewish issues. 'This issue is a place where they can express the displeasure that they might not be willing to state on the flotilla and other political matters.'"
I'm not convinced. Do American Jews who wish to distance themselves from Israel really need to mask their real reasons for doing so? Haven't we established that for liberal American Jews it's if anything more socially-acceptable to be critical of Israel than not? I don't buy the idea that there's this closet filled with pro-Palestinian American Jews afraid to come out. They're out and proud, to the point that liberal American Jews who do identify as Zionists feel uncomfortable.
But more to the point: One can be an unabashed Zionist and for this reason think that Israel's shooting itself in the foot by pushing away those who identify as Jews and want in on the Jewish state. Israel's success as a Jewish state depends on Jews actually living in Israel. What I'm getting at is that a desire to see Israel break free of the super-strict conversion, marriage, and day-to-day religious restrictions is not a roundabout way of expressing one's discomfort with the idea of Israel as a Jewish state, but is in fact just the opposite. Someone who thought the Netanyahu government wasn't hawkish enough (and Petey if you still read this, before you get worked-up, I'm not identifying with that camp) would do well to hold this view.
What I get from the article, then, is that its author and/or and least one "analyst" would like it if deep down inside, American Jews who question Israeli domestic policy were in fact trying to express an entirely different and arguably contradictory set of criticisms. Which is a different issue entirely.