I have been sitting on this post since July 2, 2008. This is a huge issue as far as I am concerned, and a personal one at that. Of course, the news on the state of diaspora relations with Israel doesn’t pause, so I’ve decided that tonight would be time enough to get this subject going.

You may or may not understand why this July 1, 2008 article caught my eye. I am the Diaspora and I have an opinion. That very fact makes me an outsider. For instance, I don’t believe that Israel should have had mass aliyah from Russia, for Jews and non-Jews alike, just so that they could beef up their white majority. Yes, non-Jews from Russia are parading as Jews in Israel today. What do the Jewish Israelis have to say about that?

Though 3/4 of Jewish Israelis feel that Diaspora Jews should butt out, 40% of them say that funding of political campaigns in Israel should continue to be financed by Diaspora Jews. Ah, the money factor. Olmert must have been attentive, as he had his very own American sugar daddy give him massive play money. I, the Diaspora, believe this is corrupt. Apparently, Israel is agreeing with me on this one, as Olmert is stepping down (this offense probably being the least of his transgressions).

Well apparently, Mr. Olmert also had some ideas about the MO of the current diaspora relations: instead of encouraging aliyah, he wants to reach out to Jews in Jewish communities of the world, teach them Hebrew, teach them about Jewish heritage (now what heritage would this be? is it going to include the history and contribution of Jews from North African countries, or are we just going to pick up the story in Western Europe?)

If anything, I have learned more about the non-Sephardic Jewish history by picking up a book called “The Seventh Million” by historian Tom Segev. Now that I have both sides of the whole story, I don’t think I want Israel telling me the political Zionist version of events. It is also disconcerting to learn that when Olmert makes these sweeping decisions, there are no Diaspora leaders present.

Now here comes an eye opener:

At the same time, a vast majority of Israeli Jews – 76.4% – said that in their opinion it is safer to live as a Jew in Israel than in the Diaspora, with only 10.4% choosing the Diaspora as being safer (13.2% did not know or refused to answer.)

Is the situation in Israel so insular as to return these kinds of numbers in a poll regarding safety? Which areas of the diaspora would Israelis feel are less safe? If we look at the map, the U.S. followed by France, have the largest number of Jews outside of Israel (in that order). While no Jews have even been murdered in the U.S there have been plenty of anti-semitic attacks on synagogues, cemeteries, and other public venues which harbor Jews. France has been less fortunate in that part of the discourse in there includes almost 6 million Muslims which are not fully assimilated and therefore find Jews to be easy prey.

Perhaps Israelis interpret safety as something other than protection from terrorist attacks. Though we do not have quantifiable data as to whom was polled, their ages, demographics, etc.., my reading the commentaries on Ha’aretz and other Israeli newspapers turned up some interesting interpretations:
1) a mother explains safety as the feeling that the Jewish experience in Israel is safer from “inter-marriage”, and that it is the only place where she can be “the majority”.

2) another reader explains that illusion of safety as partly euphoric, and being endemic to living in Israel.

3) some talk about “theft and murder” as extremely rare occurrences in Israel, in their specific neighborhoods. I am assuming here that the writer is thinking of petty theft, and murder as a non-terrorist act.

One of the tongue-in-cheek responses to the above stated opinions was that the 76% who responded had actually left Israel. I can therefore conclude, based on this small sampling, that Israelis that were polled might have expressed a certain degree of comfort being in a homeland where they were not viewed as a minority and did not really address the question of safety in the manner in which it was posed.

I did find one Jewish voice agreeing with some of my views,-in fact he was a bit more direct than I was in his assessment. He heads his article as follows: “On Israel-Diaspora relations, Israelis are quite clueless“. That was published in Ha’aretz on July 3rd. Schmuel Rosner goes on to say that Israelis may be realizing that mass aliyahs don’t work, so why force the issue? Of late, however, we have seen one large contingent making aliyah from France (understandable, considering the climate of anti-semitism in Paris especially), and of course, we’ve got the Georgians who are running for their lives from the recent attack from Russia. And a few days ago, the announcement of the last Ethiopian group of Beta Jews being received in Israel (despite the fact that there may still be some 70,000 or so still qualified to make Aliyah under the law of return; but they are black, so you must understand).
Almost concurrently, in Australia, news revealed that a well known Jewish academic had received a substantial grant to conduct a study of world Diasporas and the relationships they have with their home land. The gentleman happens to be Associate Professor Danny Ben-Moshe from the Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives at Victoria University, and we should see the results of the study in three years’ time. Why is this relevant to this commentary? Well it appears that Jewish organizations in Australia declined to participate in the study. Is there nothing one can learn from the Jewish experience in Australia, or are they all so in sync with Israeli policy that they could do better things with their time? Or is it that life is so good for them in Australia that Israel is just a nice place to visit? We’ll never know.
“We must understand that it is possible that the period of massive immigration to Israel is nearing an end,” he said. Olmert said the new goal should be to focus on stemming the tide of assimilation abroad.”

This quote was taken from a July 10th article which appeared in the 5Towns Jewish Times (an American publication). Nefesh B’Nefesh, a North American Aliyah Organization, has apparently been more successful in delivering immigrants to Israel, than Israel’s own Jewish Agency for Israel. Since its inception in 2002, they increased Israel’s population by 14,000 and are targeting a figure of 100,000 “in the coming years”.

And finally, perhaps the only statement that I agree with that has come out of Olmert’s mouth: Israel must be the one to fight anti-semitism. I could not agree more, and for several reasons.

The recent rise in world violence against Jews is mostly a result of Israel’s policy with its Arab neighbors. I am not going to single out the Palestinians, because that is too obvious and the largest thorn in the Jewish World’s side. But we’ve also got Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, – well the list could be long.

This is just as obvious to me now, as it was when the Jews from North African nations were exiled as the state of Israel was formed. Action/reaction. And it is not inferred here that the state of Israel should not exist, far from it. We are just looking at the consequences of the actions of the war of 1948. Arab nationalistic pride became strengthened and they proverbially rose up in unison, and said : out with the Zionists, even though the majority of the Jews from North Africa were Sephardic with no political views of expansion.

Israel has just celebrated its 60th year as a nation. But the celebration is dampened by its continued aggression against the Palestinians, 750,000 of which were forcibly displaced from their homes,-that number has grown into 3 million and the entire world is watching. Despite repeated requests from the European Union, the USA, Desmond Tutu, and others for Israel to halt its settlement expansion, it continues to defiantly build on occupied territory. This is the cause for anti-semitism. Any time you hear of a Jew being attacked “anywhere” in the world, this is what the attacker is thinking. I have spoken with enough Muslims to say there is no getting around it. You will not see an abatement in acts of anti-semitism until such time as peace comes to the Middle East, and Israel tones down its aggression.

I am Jewish, proud of it, and call things as they are. I am brainwash safe. And one of my dearest wish is to visit Israel one day. And I do mean, visit.