This topic is somewhat connected to the last post on US-Israel relations.
Over the past year, after finally admitting to myself that I no longer believed in God, I've spent a lot of time reading, thinking, and discussing atheism. It felt very liberating to remove the last mental roadblock that for so long prevented me from truly exercising my critical thinking skills, and I have to admit that I was quite self-congratulatory about finally being able to think through everything without that vague feeling of guilt that always lives at the back of your mind during the time between losing your faith and admitting that you've lost it. However, during the past few weeks, as Israel has been all over the news, I've realized that I still had some work to do. The fact is, unquestioning support for Israel was so ingrained in me after having identified as a religious Zionist for approximately 5 years that (as I realized with some horror) I had continued to avoid any media or discussions dealing with the truth about Israel. It was as if that part of my brain existed in some alternate Fox News-style universe, convinced that it was fair and balanced while being completely and utterly biased in favor of one very specific view. Was I really a freethinker who turned fundie the minute Israel was mentioned??? Yes. Yes, I was.
Since having this realization, I've experienced a sense of emptiness that far surpasses what I felt when I "let go of God," as that somehow felt like a much more organic process. I suppose it is because in a way, apart from my (unobservant) family, Israel and my support for it was the only factor that continued to connect me to Judaism. I noticed even before admitting my atheism that I was not only uninterested in all things Jewish, but that I actually felt a strong distaste for the faith, because at its "purest", it represents all the things that turn me off from religion: legalism, ritualism, isolation, groupthink, sexism, etc. I have been unable to continue participating in rituals (high holidays, Shabbos candles, etc.) that some atheist Jews keep up in honor of the culture. The thought of ever again limiting my love life to include only Jewish men just makes me laugh. And now that I can no longer pretend to blindly support Israel, it seems as though there is nothing at all that connects me to Judaism. I guess if I had been a Christian, this wouldn't bother me, but as a Jew I still fear being a self-loather, a traitor, etc. I'm surprised, as I stopped being observant some time before I admitted my atheism, but there it is.
I guess I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this, either in connection to Israel or to any other aspects of Jewish/Jewish-American culture. It's certainly not a hurdle I expected, though I guess I should have.