And that is a good thing, otherwise the intensity of that love and commitment would vary based on who is prime minister and what comprises the ruling coalition. To me, Israel is so much more than just a government, so how could I love Israel one day and hate it the next? Surely my concern for issues impacting Israel have ebbed and flowed with the times based on economic, social and security conditions and the like. But changing the way I feel about Israel is not conditioned on who happens to be in the ruling coalition at any given time or the decisions and policies it makes. It is not up to any government or political figure in Israel – or in the Diaspora – to decide how I should feel about Israel.
Being part of the Jewish Diaspora, as I was before my Aliyah, I found it hypocritical to boycott Israel based on its right-or-wrong government policies. After all, Israeli governments – righties or lefties or centrists or whatever – only encompass tiny blips of a very long timeline – thousands of years of Jewish history. And the current government will soon likely become another tiny blip. We – the Jewish Diaspora and Israel – have a shared Jewish history based our shared Jewish values – values that have been (mostly) constant over time.
As a former federation staffer, part of my nearly-half-a-century-ago job was to try to turn around former supporters who refused to renew their financial support because of some political issue. If the end of a conversation was near and I was unable to convince the former supporter to renew that support, I would say, “thank you for your past support and if you feel that strongly about it, make Aliyah and Vote.”
I was wrong. I should have said that first. If you feel that strongly about Israel, make Aliyah and Vote.
Okay, okay, perhaps Aliyah is not the most practical solution for those who feel strongly enough to support Israel in meaningful ways then withdraw that support based on Israeli government decisions. Without Aliyah Israel would never have the benefit of a larger, stronger electorate. And my sense is that Israel, along that timeline, needs that benefit in order to be more representative of the democratic interests of the Jewish People. Whether we like it or not, Israel is represented by Jews and Jews are represented by Israel.
Hence, we have an interdependent relationship between Israelis, the Government of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. That relationship needs to be nurtured in new and creative ways, individually and collectively.
Next: we need to find ways to make the Israeli Government more representative of Israelis.