New Year 2017: Obama accuses Russia of jeopardizing ‘free elections’ by disseminating truthful information, imperiling the media’s ability to manipulate the vote.

Should Bernie Sanders’ supporters come to Israel? When will Israel get serious about promoting the aliyah of Jews from Western countries?

At the dawn of 2017 we can welcome a year in which a new US president will enter office with the message that whatever he will do it may be unexpected.

The US Democratic Party and much of the media has not yet been able to digest the Donald Trump victory. The ‘progressive’ media was so convinced that its chosen candidate would win that on the day of the election the Huntington Post predicted that Hillary Clinton had a 98 chance of winning.

After Ms Clinton clinched the Democratic Party nomination in the summer of 2016 both the party and the ‘progressive’ media outlets which so obviously supported her conveniently forgot that at the end of April 2016 there had been a massive outpouring of support for Bernie Sanders. At the time these media outlets were being swamped with mails protesting against this lobby campaign in support of Ms Clinton. A blog in the Huntington Post argued that Only Voter Suppression Can Stop Bernie Sanders. The blog stated that massive voter roll changes and purges had taken place in the days and weeks leading up to the New York and Arizona primaries.

However following Ms Clinton’s nomination these reports apparently vanished in an Orwellian memory hole. (The book 1984 describes a world in which a Ministry of Truth destroys yesterday’s news items by incinerating them in memory holes.)

“Putin responsible for Hillary’s defeat”

Just weeks before he left office President Barack Obama attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin for ‘interfering’ in the US elections. The media wrote that the US electoral campaign had been the target of ‘cyber attacks’. However the veracity of the ‘leaked’ information was not called into question. Nor was it mentioned that there were no signs the leaks had influenced the elections.

It seems the documents showed that the Democratic National Committee had assisted Hillary Clinton in her electoral campaign during the primaries to the detriment of Bernie Sanders, despite claims the choice was up to the voters. They also show that there was a degree of collusion between the Clinton campaign committee and CNN despite the fact that news outlets are not supposed to become actively involved in political campaigns.

Will Bibi Netanyahu call on Bernie Sanders to make aliyah? No, but what about Bernie’s potential supporters?

Unless President-elect Trump really surprises everyone and makes an about-turn on issues such as the environment and ageing he is likely to become a one-term president. The Democratic Party could not possibly find a candidate less attractive than Ms Clinton and even she won the popular vote with slogans such as ‘Fighting for us’.

However, few people support the destruction of nature and everyone worries about the threat of spending the last decades of one’s life in either inactivity or poverty. And by appealing to ideals, Trump could win the support of much of the center and the left.

Similar to other countries, Israel is also bogged down in black-and-white thinking and politics must be either ‘left’ or ‘right’.

The millions of Jews in the United States do not see Israel as an attractive alternative because nothing is done to promote Israel as a country of ideals since this might be in conflict with outdated ideologies. What reasons can Israel give to idealistic Jews who want to change the world to come to Israel? New ideas always conflict with existing institutions, so why bother?

An even stronger impediment to Israel’s amazing vibrancy is its tendency to conform to non-Jewish values and ways of thinking. In 1970 Jerusalem passed an amendment to the Law of Return, allowing anyone with a Jewish grandparent or who was a relative of someone with a Jewish grandparent to make aliyah. Starting in the early 1990s large numbers of people without a Jewish background and few Zionist ideals began to emigrate from the Former Soviet Union to Israel.

Idealism often viewed as discriminatory or irrelevant

Although a number of media outlets attack Israel for ‘discriminating’ against people who are not Jewish according to Halacha the ‘real life’ situation is often different. Israel was founded by idealistic Jews who insisted on speaking Hebrew despite the fact that most of them spoke Yiddish and Russian. A language which was spoken by a few tens of thousands of people a hundred years ago is now understood by more than 9 million people. It is the first and only time in history that an historic language has been revived.

Israeli society influenced by apathy and fatalism

Today many hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens speak mostly Russian and a large number cannot even construct a simple sentence in Hebrew. Despite the fact that Jews have historically been known as having little inclination towards alcoholism a large number of the new immigrants are alcoholics and Israel’s social services are overloaded. Moreover the fatalistic and apathetic mentality has spread throughout Israeli society. While it is well known that small numbers of Jews have often had enormous beneficial influences on societies, few ask if large numbers of apathetic and fatalistic non-Jews can have a negative influence on Israeli society. Such questions are not asked because they are not politically correct. Moreover these influences have been institutionalized by, for the most part, supposedly ‘right-wing’ Israeli governments.

According to a genealogist interviewed by The Times of Israel, a large portion of the population of Ukraine can claim the right to emigrate to Israel under the modified Law of Return. Moreover some of the 22-million-strong members of the Malagasy community in Madagascar have decided that they are Jewish, despite evidence to the contrary. Members of the Bnei Menashe in Myanmar are also immigrating to Israel.

While nobody objects to converts who are seriously attracted to Judaism, the situation is often otherwise. Many come to Israel for economic reasons and it is difficult to refuse them.

At the same time, Holocaust survivors, the poor and immigrants who are not young and wealthy find it nearly impossible to get by. Israel should annul the modification to the Law of Return and actively encourage as many as possible of the 7 million Jews in the West to make aliyah.

Agencies and charities which fund aliyah should change their policies and also demand that the Israeli authorities change their policies with regards to age. As of 2017 age should no longer be a parameter for helping immigrants and there should be no age limits for education and employment. University and all other studies should be open to students from the age of 13 to 120. The implementation of these policies would revitalize Israel’s economy and society.

About the Author
Asaf Shimoni is an author, journalist and translator who returned to Israel in 2016 after spending 40 years abroad, most of them in the Netherlands. He grew up near Boston, made aliyah while living on a kibbutz (from 1973 to 1976), and graduated from Syracuse University in 1978. He also lived some 5 years in Sicily. He believes that the media should be as critical and truthful as possible.
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