Sat 09 Dec 2023 3:57 pm - Jerusalem Time

Hebrew press| Is Israel still a safe haven for Jews?

By Tuba Herzl

At the beginning of the path of Zionism, it had two basic goals: establishing a national home; Building a shelter for persecuted Jews. Since the establishment of the state, the approach has been that the two goals are achieved together.

Let's agree first, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Here is the historical homeland, the language is Hebrew, and the symbols of the state are taken from the same heritage. There are also other issues, such as the claim that a full Jewish life requires living in Israel, because only there is Jewish sovereignty. In contrast to this claim, there is the claim that the Jews are a people, and Judaism is a culture related to them, and it can be practiced everywhere. There is also a model of having more than one center, such as Babylon and Jerusalem - despite the distance and tension that existed between them, there was a friendly relationship. We can also discuss the status of Israelis who do not live in the country, and does the State of Israel have obligations towards world Jewry?

From here, we proceed to the second goal. According to it, the goal of Zionism is to establish a refuge. For years, Israel has encouraged immigration to it, not only by claiming that Jews are exercising their identity there, and not only for the sake of strengthening itself, but also on the grounds that only Jews are safe there. The most famous example is the “Send My People” campaign, which allowed hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Soviet Union to cross the oppressive Iron Curtain, as well as rescue the Jews of Ethiopia, through a camp set up on the shores of Sudan and disguised as a diving center. However, the majority of work in this field takes place on a daily basis.

And in the bitter morning, this vision also changed. We have witnessed many wars and operations, but there is no need to explain how October 7 differs from them, and how the process of repeating the claim that was heard so many times before it, and according to this claim, it is safer for a Jew to live in the diaspora. On the other hand, we are witnessing the spread of “anti-Semitism” abroad. "Antisemitism" has always hidden behind criticism of Israel, but this time, and it is possible that this is due to the severity of the events and the ignorance that does not distinguish between Israel and the Jews, the masks have fallen. What is happening to the Jews in the diaspora is like a double earthquake: a blow that targeted their sense of security in the places where they are. And destabilize the feeling and confidence in Israel’s power and its status as a potential refuge. Can we say, frankly, that their place is with us, even if they care about their future and the future of their children?

There will be those who say - what happened was a local failure, things will be fixed, and only here, there is no "anti-Semitism", and Israel must be the destination. Let us hope so, but restoring our status as a refuge will not happen immediately. And now? Until then, the National House's place in the equation rises. If Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, and Jews feel close to it, what is the responsibility of the state in this context? Especially with the outbreak of a conflict that they had nothing to do with. To what extent should we research their situations and opinions when we make decisions, especially since we expect them to be recruited with money and to form public opinion where they are, and on other issues as well.

The situation - the situation of all of us, them and us - is complex. However, recent events have made it clear that we have a shared destiny. The gaps (I'll call them here simply "conservatives" versus "liberals") widened until October 7 came, proving that we had much more in common than what divided us. Because Israel is an organized entity with a Jewish majority, while the Jews of the diaspora constitute a minority distributed in many countries, the duty of extending a hand falls upon us.

I will use a term from another field and suggest that we treat diaspora Jews as coalition partners. Just as the parties compromise in order to maintain the coalition, we must work to preserve this important alliance between Israel and world Jewry. For example, in 2016, after a long process, an equation was found that allows women’s prayers, and mixed prayers, in front of the Wailing Wall, without harming the prayers of the person concerned with the separation. However, due to the opposition of Haredi parties, which initially agreed, the plan was not implemented. In practice, Israel gave up on the external coalition for the sake of internal interest. Thus, we told the Jewish majority in the world that what they want is not important to us. We turned our backs on them at the same time that we expected them to support us.

I believe that at the present time, until we return to being a safe haven, we must pay attention to the same Zionist complex that saw the foundation as establishing a national home for the Jewish people. In order to maintain the coalition, we must provide solutions to differences. We must work to prevent discrimination, and work together with our brothers in order to deal with the unknown future, our future and their future.


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Hebrew press| Is Israel still a safe haven for Jews?


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