Were the headline “Israel Suspends the Law of Return for Jews Who Criticize Its Policies” to appear in any news source, on any given day, it would spark an uproar in Jewish and non-Jewish communities around the world. And yet, when Jewish organizations, and now some major Jewish donors, decide to suspend their support for Israel and for AIPAC over the latest Western Wall spat, it seems to be an acceptable consequence.
The notion that a population outside Israel should dictate to the Israel population what it should be doing, is outrageous and preposterous. The notion that this very population should be the American Jewish community, is a historical tragedy. Here we are after 2000 years of being in Exile, after 2000 years of yearning for our return to Zion, and yet, we can’t somehow figure things out. Somehow after two thousand years, Josephus’ descriptions of Jews fighting with one another, even as the Romans were tearing down the wall of Jerusalem, is alive and well. The ‘my way or the highway’ approach, seems to never have left us.
The foundation of the State of Israel and its support for the diaspora was
“Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh- we are all responsible for one another”. And yet, suddenly the new mantra became ‘we are all responsible for one another–but only if we can have our way. No longer mutual commitment to one another, no longer unconditional care for the wellbeing of the most astonishing Jewish enterprise of the past 2000 years, and no longer working together with each other—unless of course our way is followed.
The recent decision of American billionaire Ike Fisher to withdraw his investments from Israel and from supporting AIPAC, are recent startling examples of how low we have fallen in our ability to respect one another despite our differences.
It is especially appalling considering the great support the state of Israel lends to diaspora Jews, regardless of who they are and what they do for Israel. When Israel took in its last wave of Syrian Jews, did they stop to ask them why they waited more than 40 years and lived in a country that supported Israel’s destruction? Most recently, did Israel ask Ukrainian Jews who needed to flee overnight and were welcomed with open arms in Israel about what their position is on conversions or the West Wall?! When Israel sends thousands of shlichim, to communities around the world to help educate the youth and strengthen their Jewish identity, to they make sure that those communities are supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet policies?! Of course not.
Israel is committed to the Jewish diaspora in an unconditional way, which has sadly is not always reciprocated.
No community in the world has done for Israel as much as American Jewry has, and yet, recently the giving and loving role is becoming increasingly abusive. Dictating from afar, going on power trips, and stirring disputes among Israelis have become all too prevalent in the relationship of some American Jews to Israel.
As an American Jew, I say to the government of Israel, see this as an opportunity for growth. Know that there are many American Jews on whom you can count on, and those whom you cannot. Don’t change your policies for the sake of those whom you cannot count on– they will not become more reliable as time goes by.