The abandonment of the Diaspora:
"I came out of Auschwitz, a place where they decided 'who is a Jew.' I didn't think I was going to live to see the day when it was decided in
In a gesture to Israeli Orthodoxy David Ben-Gurion invited the two Orthodox parties, Agudat
In 1970 Golda Meir, "refused to yield to the Orthodox demands because she felt that the Orthodox monopoly over religion should not be extended to cover the diaspora and that while the Knesset could legislate for
But in Menachem Begin Orthodoxy found a more sympathetic politician. And in 1977 Likud unseated the left-leaning Alignment to form
"It was public knowledge that Begin had promised the Orthodox leadership in Israel that, if elected, he would endeavor to change the Law of Return to insert the controversial phrase, 'conversion in accordance with Halakha' in the definition of Jewish identity." That year a delegation from the
The issue has also insinuated itself into the Israel-Diaspora dialogue. "At present, the definition [of Who is a Jew] is based on Hitler's Nuremberg Laws [actually the German Enabling Act of 1933 defined as "Jew" a person with a single Jewish grandparent]: the right of Return is granted to any individual with one Jewish grandparent, or who is married to someone with one Jewish grandparent [the 1970 Amendment]. As a result, thousands of people with no meaningful connection to the Jewish people theoretically have the right to immigrate."
What is surprising about this description of Jewish identity is that it appears on the website of Jewish Virtual Library, A division of The American-Israeli Cooperative
But the Law of Return and
And this is the crux of the issue:
So why should Israel cling to an anachronistic and limiting Law of Return, voluntarily restrict its sovereignty regarding identity and immigration merely to pander to the sensitivities of a Diaspora many inside and out the state of the Jews perceive to be in free-fall between assimilation and intermarriage?
And indeed my immediate surroundings in
According to a 2010 report by the Jewish Agency, "Anti-Semitic incidents in western Europe peaked to a level not seen since the close of World War II." And Abe Foxman, on releasing the 2009 ADL survey of antisemitism in the US which showed antisemitism steady for the past several years [this was before Israel's Gaza War and the Mavi Marmara backlash] said, "It is a sobering reality that as Jews have become more accepted in society, there remains a consistent hatred of Jews among too many."
So antisemitism, far from disappearing, or even diminishing continues along its familiar cyclical course responding not to Jewish assimilation and good citizenship, but instead to the degree of social discomfort of the host country.
Does the Diaspora still need Zionism, a refuge? If we choose to believe many of our historians who assure that the Holocaust was a "unique" historical event; or our theologians and artists who view the Holocaust as a "mystery" beyond understanding, then reassured by our experts we can relax; surely the West's centuries long Jewish Problem is a thing of the past, with no place in modern, rational society; its failed "final solution" no longer a threat.
But if, just for a moment consider the possibility, the survival of Western antisemitism did not go out of style with the Holocaust, but is a permanent feature of Jewish existence; if anti-Zionism is just warmed over antisemitism for the polite; if History in fact is the inspiration for Holocaust, and 20th century technology made possible an expeditious means to carry it through, then the mid-20th century Holocaust likely does not represent the West's final Final Solution. And
And the survival of the Law of Return and its 1970 "Grandchild Clause," had better be there to serve its intended purpose.
Several recent articles relating to Jewish survivability in the Diaspora include: