Two Centers for the Jewish People? Perhaps, but with a Caveat.

It is no secret that over the years, the relationship between American Jewry and the State of Israel has had its ups and downs.  In recent years, it has had more downs than ups.  Today, it’s at a point where many American Jews who care about Israel feel that it alienates them, doesn’t accept them as Jews, and certainly not as Jews with equal rights.

credit: tekla-szymanski.com

Moreover, many American Jews reject the association of Judaism with the State of Israel altogether, or that they have any special affiliation to the Jewish state because they are Jews. Just recently, Business Insider published a story about Jewish Americans fiercely condemning President Trump for statements they regard as “textbook antisemitism.”

According to the paper, “During an annual White House conference call to honor the upcoming High Holidays … Trump told American Jewish leaders, ‘We really appreciate you, we love your country also and thank you very much.’” To get the point across, one Jewish leader said, “It’s really important that we separate out American Jews and Israel — we are not one and the same. It’s antisemitic to suggest that we are.” Another leader stressed, “Trump seems unable to grasp the simple fact that Jewish Americans are Americans, period.”

Evidently, the chasm between parts of American Jewry and the State of Israel is so wide that there is complete estrangement. But while these American Jews see no connection between them and Israel, they do identify as Jews and feel connected to Judaism.

Naturally, I would like to see all Jews united around the world. But realistically speaking, this is currently impossible. And in truth, I don’t think it’s a tragedy we cannot overcome. The important point to keep in mind is not the connection of Jews to the State of Israel, but the connection of Jews to fellow Jews. As I will explain below, if American Jewry achieves this, they will be welcome anywhere and everywhere, and it would eliminate antisemitism.

Although most Jews would like to think of themselves as the same as everyone, they aren’t the same as everyone and no one treats them as such. However uncomfortable this makes us feel, Jews are different, and virtually everyone but Jews admits it.

Therefore, there is no point declaring that “Jewish Americans are Americans, period.” The truth is that to a great many Americans, Jewish Americans are first of all Jews, and then, perhaps, Americans. And since Jews are singled out anyhow, it is in their best interest to know how they can be singled out for praise rather than for condemnation.

Here is where the Jewish vocation comes into play. Jews coined the terms “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “That which you hate, do not do unto your friend.” Jews were tasked with being “a light unto nations,” to rise above their egoism and learn to love each other despite each one’s faults. They were singled out to serve as a role model society based on love rather than on hate and selfishness.

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Dr. Michael Laitman is a global thinker, a prolific author who has published over 40 books on a variety of topics including world affairs, economics, education, antisemitism, and Kabbalah.

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4 comments

  1. It’s not easy for American non-Orthodox Jews to understand and connect with Jewish destiny in Israel because:
    – they cannot read or speak the majority Jewish lingua franca which is the Hebrew language,
    – they have lost the family cultural connections and the Jewish traditions of their grandparents or older generations that connected with Yiddish or traditional Jewish observance
    – they are trying to create a new American version of what they believe is a new American “Jewish identity”
    – too many American Jews seem to boil down their claim to Jewish identity ( apart from having been born to a Jewish parent) as meaning in essence calling for “Tikkun Olam” ( repair of the world, with additional spinoffs promoting a range of universalistic social and environmental concerns).

    The core principles of “Jewish” in America are therefore said to require one to be voting for the Democratic Party, be eating bubka and bagels on weekends, and be signing petitions criticising any Israeli government policy that defends the security of Jews living in their historical national homeland.

    All this means the majority of American Jews constitute a significant minority of World Jewry but have an unsustainable Jewish identity that has little in common with the concerns of the majority of the world’s Jews, now living in Israel.

    This simplified American Jewish identity, that does not identify with Israel nor with its Hebrew-speaking population, becomes a dangerous feedstock for the growing American-based antisemitism that will continue to thrive on making insecure American Jews feel even less secure.

  2. From what I have view with my own eyes – repeatedly…in respect of a good number of ‘American Jews’, I fully concur with the writer of the first reply comment – J.Lederman. In the main they project themselves as no more than Social Justice Warriors – (Yes, in need of the good hot tubing most SJW’s are in urgent need of), near solely engaged with Arab Palestinian rights, and bagging Israel at every opportunity…..

    Being so confronting, as for numerical spread of same along the U.S. eastern seaboard, it shook my faith for a period, in Israel and the Jewish development of their Homeland….more so from the garbage they had graffitied on their Posters/Placards….and on occasion, locked arm in arm, with those pushing the Palestinian band wagon.

    With some reluctance, I can accept the dividing, and countering political viewpoints of Jewish folk in Israel, though never from people who give me the distinct impression of being ashamed, or embarrassed, for being Jewish by heritage birth.

    • An explanation: Why it shook my faith in Israel and Israeli’s, is that for many decades, I believed; of my own mental construct, that every last Jewish person on the Planet would speak nothing but the highest of Israel, and would give their right arm in defence of Israel – even if they chose to remain within the Diaspora. Perhaps I believed too much..along with 2000 odd years of history, the longing adage line, “Next year in Jerusalem….”.

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