Friday, May 05, 2006

Is Israel the Only Place for Jews?

Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua caused quite a stir at the American Jewish Committee's Centennial symposium, when he argued that the only way to be a Jew is to live in Israel. Yehoshua was very blunt. He said Jews outside Israel are playing with their identity, "Plug & Play Jews". He even went as far as to say American Jews would leave the States and move to China if it surpassed the US economically. Now that's anti-Semitic - the greedy disloyal Jews looking for the best place to make money.

This is an old, classical Zionist position, which was once necessary for the State of Israel back when it relied on immigration for its demographic survival as a Jewish state. I think his views are shared by a majority of Israelis, who truly don't understand how any Jew can stay in the diaspora. This is a narrowminded, provincial view. These people haven't seen thriving Jewish communities abroad. They don't know that non-Israeli Jews can have great lives, without having to constantly worry about antisemitism.

I think the Hebrew word for diaspora, Gola (from Galut, exile), should be thrown out the window. The Gola is very small now - since, as I see it, it is a place outside Israel where the local Jews feel they are in exile. Happy American, Canadian, British and other Jews who feel at home in their countries are not in the Gola. They are not in exile. Of course, this is a secular interpretation of the word. That isn't to say Israel should stop trying to bring new Jewish Olim to Israel, but it should do that by making Israel a better place to live in, not by rebuking those who stay abroad.

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  1. Western secular Jews will disappear within 2 genertions (60 years). Itermarriage will do to us what Hitler couldn't. It just does not make sense to marry a Jew unless you are religeous.