Even before the establishment of the State of Israel, the ties between the Jews in Israel (which was then part of the British Mandate in Palestine) and the Jews around the world were complicated. Many Jews in the Diaspora rejected Zionism and believed it would increase antisemitism. They were content to live where they were and did not want to move to a land that (at the time) had nothing to offer but swamps, desert, and hostile Arabs. Nor were the Zionists keen on Diaspora Jews. The heads of the Jewish settlement in Israel wanted only young, socialist immigrants, and preferably unmarried or with small families.
Since then, suspicion and tensions between Israelis and Diaspora Jews, particularly American Jewry, have not improved. In fact, in recent years, relations have deteriorated rapidly, to the point where many American Jews would prefer that Israel did not exist at all. Many of them even side with Israel’s enemies, while Israelis feel growing resentment toward American Jewry, whose values and culture are often very different from those of Israelis.
Mutual alienation helps neither side. On the contrary, it intensifies hatred toward Diaspora Jews and toward Israel alike.
All Jews, no matter where they live, have the same obligation to the world. Whether we are German, American, Russian, or Israeli Jews does not change our obligation to be a light unto nations and an example of unity above all differences.
The people of Israel does not exist for its own sake. It is unlike any other nation. It is a nation comprised of descendants of numerous tribes and nations who united in antiquity around the idea that unity among all people, regardless of differences, is the most noble idea and the key to happiness and prosperity in life.
Accordingly, the sole purpose of the Jewish people is to demonstrate the value of unity by setting an example. This is why the more hatred and alienation increase among nations, the more the world becomes antisemitic. It is looking for a way out of the entanglement of mutual hatred and distrust, and in the absence of an example from the Jews, it is at a loss as to how to achieve it. Jews perceive the world’s anger at them as antisemitism, but in reality, it is the world’s cry for help out of hatred.
No Jew is relieved from this obligation. Hence, no Jew will be spared the anger of the nations for not giving them what they need.
Therefore, despite the chill between Jews in the Diaspora and Israeli Jews, the one thing all parties can do to assuage antisemitism is increase the level of their solidarity and unity. Even though we have accrued generations of mistrust, the only thing that can help us mitigate the world’s anger toward Jews is to rise above the bitterness and restore our nationhood around the principles of our ancestors: solidarity and mutual responsibility. Even if we do not feel inclined toward it, the feedback from the world once we begin to work on it will convince us that this is the way to go.
Posted on The Times of Israel, Facebook