Do all Jews, wherever they may live have a stake in the present and future of the State of Israel? Absolutely! But does Israel belong to all Jewish people, regardless of whether or not they live there? Absolutely not! I know I’m going against the grain here, because most Jews will probably tell you that Israel belongs to all of the Jewish people. Heck, most of Israel’s leaders, including our current prime minister, would say that Israel belongs to all Jews, regardless of where they live. But as an ardent supporter of Israel and an Israeli citizen, I’m afraid I must disagree with the notion that Israel belongs to all Jews. After all, Israel is a modern, democratic state; and a modern, democratic state belongs to its citizens and no one else. In other words, Israel belongs to Israelis and no one else.
I look at it this way. If an American who can trace his ancestry all the way back to the British colonization of North America insinuated that the U.K. belongs to him and all people of British descent, he would probably be laughed at. Yet the notion that Israel belongs to all Jews is widely accepted among Jewish people around the world. In fact, I’ll be very surprised if some people reading this don’t write back to me and tell me that I’m crazy or insult me in some other way. The fact of the matter is that Israel does not belong to all Jewish people, anymore than the U.K. belongs to all people of British descent, France to all people of French descent, Ireland to all people of Irish descent and so forth. I do understand that most people whose backgrounds come from places where they are not currently living have some sort of connection to the “old country” in terms of the their culture, beliefs or some other characteristics, but that doesn’t mean that they consider whatever their “old country” is to belong to them, unless of course they were born in that country or are citizens of that country living abroad.
I also do not dispute the inherent right of all Jews to live in Israel. Contrary to what some of Israel’s critics want you to believe, it is common practice among many countries, not just Israel, to have some kind of law of return that allows a person whose origins lie in the country in question to come and live in that country. Yes, all Jews have the right to live in Israel. However, until Jews from the diaspora become Israeli citizens, they have no reasonable grounds to say that Israel belongs to them.