AMERICAN JEWRY AND ISRAELby Shlomoh
May 16, 2018
Yesterday the Jewish Federation held a meeting of a panel of speakers addressing the issue of American Jewry and Israel: Where is the relationship heading?
Unlike a majority of Jews in America, much of what was said, I knew or surmised and that is because I am very in tune on what is happening in the changing American Jewish community in general and regarding Israel in particular.
Globally the situation does not look good. But in the gloom are definate rays of light.
American Jewry is in the midst of mass assimilation and intermarriage. This should not surprise anyone who believes in what we were taught as children, namely, America is a "melting pot".
In spite of all the talk about celebrating diversity and multiculturalism, what we were taught in school is still true. Anyone hoping to succeed in America will put his/her desire for economic and social advancement above the ethnic origin of the immigrant ancestors. How can it be otherwise? We all work and play together - and ultimately date and marry each other - regardless of race, religion or national origin. It's the American way.
Given that, the members of the panel revealed the following:
21st century American Jews are divided into 3 groups:
Nearly all Orthodox Jews in America are wholly involved with Israel both emotionally and politically, and do not criticize the Jewish State. In fact, they are very much in favr of how the state comports itself. These are Jews who feel a deep antipathy to the Left, vote Republican, and look down upon Jews who do not feel or act as they do.
Non-Orthodox Jews interested in the wellbeing of Israel range in feeling from political conservativism to some degree of liberalism. While they may support Israel, many of them are opposed to the government's behavior regarding religio-social issues and the handling of the gentile inhabitants of Israel.
Jews in name only either give no thought to Israel or are on the side of nonJews who feel ill-will to the Jewish state.
In the generation of the Six Day War, American and Israeli Jews looked upon each other as brothers and sisters. In this generation, the relationship is more like cousins, and soon not even first cousins.
As ever in Jewish history, the core heats up and the periphery flakes off. It's not a new phenomenon. This has been happening for thousands of years.
American Orthodox are growing in numbers and in religious and political power, and their voice more and more mutes the voices of the non-Orthodox. The Orthodox usually don't engage in diologue with whom they deem the enemies of the Jewish state, including the Conservative, Reform and Secular Jews who criticize the State in any way. Their attitude is either you are COMPLETELY in agreement with Israel and its leadership and actions, or you are not. If any Jew does not fulllfill that paradigm, he is a traitor to the Jewish People. To talk to them is a waste of time. In the words of the Nazarene, they do not "cast pearls before swine."
Jews in name only do not illicit any attention from the Orthodox except when they direct contempt against them. To the Orthodox, these Jews are no different from antisemitic nonJews. Many Non-Orthodox Jews interested in the wellbeing of Israel often make overatures to this third group in the hopes of raising its Jewish consciousness and gettng them to see Israel in a positive light. How successful they are in this endeavor is moot. This middle group is aging and dying off. In many cases, their own children and grandchildren have already joined the group of Jews in name only.
The overwhelming majority of Jews in name only will not have Jewish grandchildren. Their opinions are discounted and ignored since they are already grouped with gentiles.
So how do Israelis today respond to the state of American Jewry today? As I pointed out above in the sibling and cousin analogy, the average non-Orthodox Israeli Jews is more emotionally distant from fellow Jews in America. Since Orthodox Jews worldwide identify with one another as part of a Jewish religio-ethnic peoplehood, Israeli and American Orthodox Jews still see each other as brothers and sisters with whatever emotional closeness that implies.
And what about the Israeli government? Since the victory of Menachem Begin's right-wing LIKUD Party in the late 1970s, Israelis have continued increasingly to vote right of center, thereby strengthening the power of religious Orthodoxy in the Jewish state.
Netanyahu's government is well aware of the evolution going on in the American Jewish community, and it acts accordingly. Since the current Israeli government [and supposedly future governments] understand that both non-Orthodox groups are losing power and disappearing, it sees no reason to cater to these increasingly religious and politically powerless Jews. Hence they see no reason to change their attitude on how they will treat the Jews and gentiles within the areas that it controls.
And now that populism and arch conservatism have been brought in to the American government by the Trump victory, the Netanyahu government feels especially empowered to do what it pleases. It also knows that it has the complete cooperation and compliance with its policies, whatever they may be, on the part of the only segmentment of the American Jewish community which they feel that matters, the Orthodox. So it caters to the Orthodox.
While Jewish numbers, in general, are declining in America, the Orthodox community [5 to 10 children born to their families] is growing exponentially. In Israeli, Orthodoxy is also growing as are right-wing political attitudes among all classes of Israeli society.
I estimate that by the end of this century, American and Israeli Jewish siblinghood will be re-established but no longer will that brotherhood be secular or liberal.
As a Jew who sees himself as emotionally and viscerally Orthodox, I cannot but cheer what seems to me to be inevitable, the complete Judaization of the Land of Israel as
And by the way, the early Zionists could have had their Jewish state long before 1948. They were offered various locales for it, including Madagascar, Uganda and a large island off the east coast of the United States. But all such offers were declined. No, it had to be the Land of Israel only. If these Zionists were such socialists and such atheists, therefore not believing that Israel was a God-given Land, why did they insist on Israel? It was because they believed in the continuity of history. Although foreign occupiers had originally driven Jews off their Land and other foreign occupiers had refused them the right to return, the Zionists wished to return to a Land that they considered had never ceased being Jewish. They looked to Jewish ORIGINS in the Land as a legitimate authority to once again rule it.
But lately, I have also come to another realization. I mentioned above that the early Zionists and current apologists for Israel defend Israel on the grounds of ORIGINS. I believe this is a flimsy rationale in defending Israel. Sooner or later, ORIGINS become political. For Jews to say that Israel should be Jewish because long ago Jews were there lets others, namely the gentile inhabitants there, to say that THEY were there first in the form of Canaanites. Aside from the fact that the claim is not factual, ORIGINS in itself is a weak argument.
Normally I don't defend Israel because Israel needs no defense. But when I choose to defend the Jewishness of Israel, the defense is not built on ORIGINS. It is based on the Biblical story of the origin of Israelite ownership of the Land. The Bible tells us that Israelites invaded the Land and took it away from the aborigines there. This is the history of the world. A group sees a land belonging to others and says, "Hey, we like your land. We like it so much that we are going to take it away from you."
Israelis dominated by Jews, not because of ORIGINS but because Jews occupied a land ruled by Turks and British and MILITARILY TOOK IT FOR THEMSELVES. That is, my only rationale for Jewish Israel is occupation and military superiority and dominance.
When the British left the Land, it became a no-man's land with no recognized governing state. Jews ceased it and created a country therein. In 1948, only a partial takeover was possible. In 1967, manifest destiny was completed. Israel occupied and took over land owned by no one. Now others want to take away the Land owned by Jews.
If America chooses to give Texas and California and the whole southwest back to Mexico and to give Manhattan Island back to the Indians, Isreal might give its land away to strangers - but probably not. Anyway, it's probably not possible to give the land back to the Indians. The white man did such a good job exterminating most of them.
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