Every so often comes a pronouncement “out of Zion” that, despite all assurances from other voices in Zion, seeks to drive a big, fat wedge between Jews living in Israel and Jews living elsewhere.
Usually, they come from establishment rabbinic figures who deride Reform (and Conservative) Judaism – the denominations most practiced by Jews living in the Diaspora. (I was tempted to link to three of many examples, but wish to deny them the clicks of recognition. Instead, I will link to a comic by Eli Valley which incorporates a choice quote about Reform Jews.)
So, when someone less bearded publicly pokes at Jews living in the Diaspora, and not because of the Judaism they practice but because of where they live … well, it does give one (who lives in the Diaspora) pause – and then, one can hear the sound of foreheads smacking (me first, oh me first!) across the cyberlandscape in waves of sound, building and building…
I thought that standard bearers of 21st century Zionism had set aside the ideological gem known as Shelilat HaGolah, or Negation of the Diaspora (popular with luminaries like Brenner, Berdyczewski and to a lesser degree with Ahad Ha’Am and A.D. Gordon – the Fab Four of classical Zionism) for a more nuanced, mutually supportive blablablabla … I guess not.
Back in the summer of 2006, A.B. Yehoshua came to the Library of Congress and told American Jewry that they were “playing with Jewishness.” Hee hee! And blithely play we continued to do… until this weekend when A.B. Yehoshua took another run at all the playful Jews living in the Diaspora, this time downgrading playfulness to half-Jewishness. Yes, that’s right. A.B. and all the other Israel-living Jews are “complete Jews” while Diasporaniks are “partial Jews.” (I can hear another wave of forehead-smacking starting…)
As part of a HaKatedra Strategic Friday lecture series, Yehoshua also said (among other Shelilah-style gems) that living outside Israel “is a very deep failure of the Jewish people” and that:
If Judaism is important to you, then come here, receive it in full and be part of it. But it is important that you understand: ‘they’ and ‘us’ are not the same thing. Do not make do with texts. At least learn Hebrew, learn about us through the intimacy of Hebrew. They should come here more often. All the love they have for Israel, [yet] they were here for barely a five-day visit; barely 20 percent of them [American Jews] were ever in Israel.
I could continue with some kind of analysis, some kind of rebuttal, or launch a particularly cutting hashtag into the twitter-realms – but I am weary of further engagement with this kind of retrograde, vapid rhetoric. So after the sting of the forehead-smack subsides, I will simply yawn and move on. I hope you can too.