Yisrael Medad
Analyst and commentator on political and cultural issues.

Trying to Root a New Jewish Cosmopolitanism

I tweeted on April 16, in response to yet another IfNotNow demo on behalf of the terrorist Hamas-sponsored Great March on Israel’s Gaza boundary that they were

rootless cosmopolitans

and I took flack. That was an anti-Semitic term I was informed. An anti-Semitic slur. A slur against Diaspora activists.

It seems that I was slightly in error.

There do exist Jews who are rooted cosmopolitans, or at least more precisely, promoters of such. They are Diaspora-rooted.

Jane Eisner, the Forward’s editor-in-chief, has now published a rant entitled It’s Time For Israel To Recognize That Diaspora Jews Are Already Home.

Here are some extracts of yet another attempt to slow down Zionism, block it, halt it and recreate a Diaspora existence:

…the relationship between the world’s two largest Jewish communities [Israel and America] is growing more and more strained…I’m going to offer an alternative idea:…let’s acknowledge and celebrate their separate identities and embark on a new kind of relationship. To begin with, let’s leave behind the outdated notion of “Diaspora.”

I do not suggest that the two parties should divorce…We turn away from [Israel] at our peril, and our detriment.

…We need a new vocabulary, one that reflects a more egalitarian relationship…

…North American Jews stress personal morality and social ethics; Israeli Jews focus on history and destiny….

…Israelis can learn from us about living in pluralistic [mixed marriages?] families and communities, and developing innovative [anti-traditionalist?] expressions of Jewish faith and culture…

…I suggest that those of us in the Diaspora think of ourselves as being at home…While we live as equal Jewish citizens here.

Well, Jane, you seem to denounce the current parameters of Israel-Diaspora relations, even while distorting their reality, and you  justify a new situation that will only increase the ongoing dissolution of Diaspora Jewry.  You seek to create an equality between a Diaspora existence and that which is one of a homeland where, in Judaism, tithes are taken, where the soil possesses a form of sanctity, where all the elements of the Bible make sense: spiritually, geographically, agriculturally and even environmentally.

She, of course, casts blame on Netanyahu for most of this but also makes a bizarre claim that Israel’s doesn’t promote Hebrew-language studies. First of all, it does. Secondly, and before 1948, Jews learned Hebrew….how? Jews don’t have a peoplehood obligation to know their native tongue? How do they read the Siddur? Wait, they still do read it, yes?

Representatives and leaders of the Diaspora Jewry, in the form of those who seek to dilute traditions, values and practices and demand equal standing as in the matter of the Western Wall as if that site is a political plaything, are on an ego trip not realizing that without Israel, their status would be one of precariousness and their security even less.

They seek to root their cosmopolitanism, that is, their desire to be not citizens of Israel but of the world, by negatively portraying Israel. They seek to reject the specific national identity of the Jew and thereby escape an political problem these few have with Israel.

That will not work. It never has.

Diaspora Jews can not be equal to those of us in Israel. Partnership and mutual interdependence, of course. But cease attempting to root a new form of cosmopolitanism.

Your roots are here, in Eretz-Yisrael.

About the Author
Yisrael Medad, currently is a Research Fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem and Deputy Editor of the English Language Anthology of Jabotinsky's Writings. American-born, he and his wife made Aliyah in 1970. He resides in Shiloh since 1981. He was a member of the Betar Youth Movement World Executive and is a volunteer spokesperson for the Yesha Council. He holds a MA in Political Science from the Hebrew University and is active is many Zionist and Jewish projects and initiatives.
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