Deport Israel’s illegal immigrants

The attitude of Israelis to African “infiltrators” or “asylum seekers” or “refugees” – what you call them is indicative of how you feel about them – is a manifestation of a broad cultural divide in our society.

There are about 50,000 illegal immigrants (estimates vary) from various African countries, mostly Eritria and Sudan but also numerous others, who came to Israel in the period between about 2005 and 2013, when Israel completed fencing its border with Egypt. In 2012 a law was passed that permitted the detention of illegal immigrants, although the Supreme Court, responding to petitions from various “human rights” NGOs, prevented its implementation. Nevertheless, the flow of immigrants seems to have been stopped, primarily by the physical barrier. Here is an interesting analysis of the immigration phenomenon and the attempts of the state to deal with it, albeit from a left-wing perspective.

Most of the immigrants have applied for humanitarian asylum and have been given visas that must be renewed every three months. They are de facto permitted to work, although many receive welfare benefits. Technically, only a few are eligible for humanitarian asylum as refugees, but the government has decided that most of them can’t be deported to their home countries because conditions there are so bad. Most are Muslims. The majority live in neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv.

The Tel Aviv neighborhoods have been severely impacted by the influx. Local residents say that they are afraid to go out at night because of violent crime committed by immigrants. Resources to help disadvantaged people of all backgrounds have been strained to the breaking point by the needs of the immigrants and their children. Long-time residents of the area that own property find themselves trapped, unable to sell apartments for enough money to move somewhere else.

Although it is irrelevant to the argument about what to do about them, I should point out (probably unnecessarily) that no other Middle Eastern or African country would treat illegal immigrants as well. The Egyptians regularly shoot migrants trying to cross their borders, and other countries deny them the right to work or education for their children. And they certainly would not get welfare benefits!

One can argue about their status endlessly – are most of them “economic migrants” or true refugees? But it should be clear that life in Israel is infinitely better in every way than in the places most of them came from, for both human rights and economic opportunities. It’s understandable that they took great risks to get here. What should we do?

On the one hand, you can say that now that the flow has been stopped they do not pose a demographic danger to the state and we should try to integrate them into the state, give them permanent residency and official permission to work, improve their living conditions and try to absorb them. After all, their children already speak Hebrew as their first language.

On the other, if it becomes known that Israel will welcome illegal immigrants, no fence will stop them. They will find a way, and the influx that has been stopped will resume. The ones that are already here have a high birthrate, facilitated by generous welfare benefits, and the 50,000 that are here now present a demographic threat to the Jewish majority, already under pressure from a growing Arab population. There is also the danger of creating a permanent dependent class. Israel is a small nation-state, and its continued existence depends on maintaining an ethnic majority. While the migrants have human rights, they must be balanced against those of the residents of South Tel Aviv, who have received a very raw deal through no fault of their own.

The government has been trying to find a way to reduce the number of migrants in the country. The current law permits the deportation of illegal immigrants to a “third country” where they will not be endangered. Israel has agreements with several African countries to take deportees, but only if they voluntarily agree to go. Last year, the Knesset passed a law that would withhold some of the salary of the migrants, which would be returned to them if and when they leave (the employer also must contribute to the fund, which discourages them from hiring migrants). This has only been in effect a few months and it’s not clear how effective it will be.

In some cases, the government wishes to deport someone who is uncooperative. Until now, this has been possible by incarcerating him until he agrees to leave “voluntarily” to one of the countries with which Israel has agreements.

But this week, the Supreme Court decided (in response to petitions from various “human rights” NGOs) that illegal immigrants can’t be incarcerated for more than two months, because then their agreement to leave wouldn’t truly be voluntary. Paradoxically, it also ruled that Israel does have the right to involuntarily deport them, but since no third country will take them unless they agree, this right can’t be exercised. The court also suggested that the best solution for the Tel Aviv residents was to disperse the immigrants around the country, which would multiply the problems for both local residents and the migrants. This is the latest in a series of decisions which have stymied attempts to deport illegal immigrants.

And this is where we get to the cultural divide. The government believes that it has an obligation to protect the rights of the immigrants, the Tel Aviv residents, and the Jewish majority in the country. But as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a powerful speech at the Bar Association this week, the Court recognizes only the rights of individuals, and not the Zionist imperative to maintain a Jewish majority and Jewish character to the state:

… Shaked sought to make clear that she doesn’t make light of … individual rights, saying she considers the system maintaining them to be “almost sacred.”

“But not devoid of context,” she clarified. “Not detached from Israeli uniqueness, our national tasks and our very identity, history and Zionist challenges. Zionism should not—and will not—bow before a system of individual rights interpreted universally in a manner detaching it from the chronicles of the Knesset and the history of legislation we’re all familiar with.”

Shaked said the Israeli judicial branch operates as if in a “dream,” adopting a “utopian and universal worldview sanctifying individual rights to an extreme degree and ceasing taking part in the struggle for Israel’s very existence.”

The Court, she noted, relates its decisions to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, but there is – as yet – no Basic Law affirming the Jewish character of the state, no “Nation-State Law.”

Shaked was criticized by Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, both of whom oppose such a law. Livni said, “Zionism isn’t bowing down to human rights. It is proudly raising its head, because protecting [human rights] is also the essence of Judaism and part of Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state.” In other words, the Jewishness of the state is nothing more than its democratic nature. This pernicious idea comes directly from the former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, and is precisely why Shaked correctly demands a Nation-State Law.

It is the primary purpose of a government and all of its subsidiaries, including the judiciary system, to protect the nation’s citizens against internal and external threats. This is the case even if the particular citizens are poor and have little political power, like the residents of South Tel Aviv. The Supreme Court struck down one attempt after another to deport the illegal immigrants that have made their lives hell, and the suggestion that the immigrants be dispersed throughout the country – which, even if it were possible, would mean dispersing their pathologies to other disadvantaged communities, because they certainly aren’t going to be allowed to move next door to Supreme Court justices, or Livni or Herzog – is obnoxious and insulting. It is a subterfuge to justify choosing the welfare of the migrants over the Jewish citizens of the state.

Israel does everything she can to be a moral actor in a world where morality is usually a joke, both when she has to use force to defend herself, and when she can deploy her advanced technology to save lives (e.g., Syria, Sierra Leone and Houston, Texas).

But as Hillel said, if I am not for myself, who will be for me? In this case, justice is on the side of the state. And the Supreme Court should be on the side of justice.

Posted in Israeli Politics, Israeli Society | 2 Comments

The real crisis of racism in Israel

The strategy of the US Reform Movement along with home-grown leftists to introduce an American-style obsession with “racism” into Israeli consciousness shows just how far from understanding regional reality these people are.

The movement’s Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) plans to document incidents of racism in Israel and sue the perpetrators in court, following the model of the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center in the US, which – despite illegitimately multiplying the numbers of right-wing “hate” groups, counting Christian, conservative, and anti-jihad groups and individuals as “hate groups” or “extremists,” and minimizing or ignoring Islamic, black and left-wing extremism – has managed to get itself treated as an authoritative arbiter of who should be denied a platform to speak, or even silenced by the removal of Internet services.

Let’s look at the list of groups in Israel that IRAC claims are victims of racism, and whose members it asks to report incidents of racism by telephone hotline or web form:

The Racism Crisis Center will provide support in cases of discrimination, hate speech, and hate crimes against minority populations, and collect data on the growing phenomenon of racism in Israel. The center provides support to victims of all backgrounds: Arab[s], Ethiopian Jews, Russian Jews, Mizrahi Jews, asylum seekers and migrant workers, and provides services in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Amharic and English [my emphasis].

The first thing we notice is that apparently IRAC accepts the pernicious definition of ‘racism’ that is lately popular on the Left: racism = bigotry + privilege. According to this definition, it is impossible for a member of an oppressed group to be a racist, because no matter how bigoted oppressed individuals may be, they don’t have power to oppress. This explains the second thing that we notice in the statement above, which is that the list doesn’t include “Jews” without qualification.

In Leftyworld, privilege and oppression are relative. A logical consequence of accepting the definition of racism above is that a hierarchy of oppression is created in which an oppressed person can only be victimized by the racism of a more “privileged” one. So if a Mizrachi Jew beats up an Arab, that is considered a racist hate crime; but when an Arab stabs a Jew the motive must be something else (the Arabs themselves call it “resistance”). Once you have the hierarchy you can use it for all kinds of things, such as who is allowed to speak and who is expected to be a silent “ally.”

Since all Jews, even Mizrachi, Russian or Ethiopian Jews, have more privilege than Arabs, there is no need for a category for racism against Jews. Jews qua Jews can’t complain of racism, unless the complainant is a member of one of the oppressed groups complaining about a more privileged person or group. And no, I don’t know whether Mizrachis or Russians are more oppressed.

This definition and the ideology that flows from it have created more racial hostility in the US than understanding or reconciliation. Bringing it to Israel is a terrible idea.

If we look at the basic difference between the “racial issue” here and in the US, we can see how blisteringly ignorant these people are of reality in Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Without the slightest doubt, the most common, blatant and vicious manifestation of racism in the region is Muslim Arab racism toward Jews.

Hate crimes by Arabs against Jews ranging from assault to mass murder are common. Jews are attacked on the roads with stones and firebombs, and stabbed on the streets. But there is also less deadly but equally humiliating behavior. Could there be a more classically apartheid-like phenomenon than the refusal to allow a Jewish child to drink (video) from a faucet that is used by Muslims to wash their hands? Isn’t it reminiscent of the Jim Crow American South when the police enforce racist rules?

The so-called “status quo” on the Temple Mount is a prime example of Muslim Arab racism. Arabs are free to come and go on the Mount, even to play football there, while Jews are required to go only in small groups, with specially humiliating treatment reserved for those who appear religious. The “president” of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, even publically stated that Jews have no right to “defile [the Mount] with their filthy feet.” If that isn’t racism, what is?

Consider also the racism inherent in a law that punishes Arabs (until recently a death-penalty offense) for selling land to Jews. Consider the opposition to Jews living in eastern Jerusalem, not to mention Judea and Samaria. Consider, finally, the opposition to Jewish sovereignty which is the essence of “Palestinian” identity, which has almost no other content. Simply put, Palestinianism is racism.

IRAC will probably say that none of that counts because Jews are a privileged majority in Israel. But only an artificial definition allows them to limit themselves to Jewish racism when murderous Arab racism is so prevalent and so much more severe. Why should they ignore the Muslim Arab racism that expelled Jews almost entirely from all of the Middle East, and is currently murdering and expelling Christians, and which suffuses the Palestinian population as well as many Arab citizens of Israel?

Here is what we should do: if you are a Jewish victim of Arab racism – if your car has been stoned, if Arabs tried to lynch you, if your home has been damaged by a Hamas rocket, or if you have been injured in a terror attack, go to the IRAC Racism Crisis Center website or call their hotline (1-700-704-408) and file a hate crimes complaint.

Even if your injuries are purely psychic, complain. Did you go up to the Temple Mount and have the police treat you like a criminal? Do you find the weekly sermons by imams at mosques all over the country in which they describe Jews as descendents of apes and pigs insulting? Do the maps published by the Palestinian Authority which erase Israel make you feel “unsafe?” Call the hotline or fill out the form.

IRAC’s campaign is a radically distorted inversion of reality, a denial of what should be visible to anyone with eyes. Let’s show them the real nucleus of race hatred in the Middle East.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Society | 4 Comments

A non-solution to a non-crisis

If you are an Israeli, do you feel smug that the neurotic politics of political correctness and victimology that lately are so prevalent in the USA are rare in Israel? Are you pleased to think that most Israelis are not obsessed with race the way Americans are?

If so, you will be sorry to hear that the folks that hijacked the Women of Wall and other internal Israeli controversies in order to depict Israel as undemocratic or worse have decided to bring the socio-political pathology of the US to our country.

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), created and primarily funded by the American Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has proudly announced the establishment of a “Racism Crisis Center” in Israel.

Did you know there was a crisis of racism here? I didn’t, and in fact it seems to me that racially-based conflict is much lower here than in the US and many other places.

You may be shocked by that statement. Isn’t Israel the conflict capital of the world? Yes and no.

Yes, the Palestinian Arabs led by Hamas and Fatah want to kill us and take our land. But this is ideologically and religiously-based racism on the Arab side. it’s remarkable how well Jewish Israelis get along with the Arabs that they come into contact with who do not espouse this ideology.

Of course there are exceptions. And one can say that given the violent expressions of hatred by the Palestinian Arabs, it is surprising that there aren’t more. There are issues of resource allocation to Arab municipalities, but there are also reasons for this having to do with their own municipal governance. In some areas – higher education, for example – Arab citizens arguably get preferential treatment. And of course Muslims are not required to do military service (they are permitted to volunteer). How many countries in the world can maintain a population that is 20% Muslim without violent civil conflict? Probably only Israel.

And yes, it is true that the police have behaved improperly toward Ethiopian immigrants. But unlike the persistent black underclass in the US, the Ethiopian Jews – who were brought to Israel to save them from famine and persecution rather than as slaves – have been undergoing the usual processes of acculturation of immigrants, and each generation is economically better off and has members in higher and higher status positions. Discrimination against them because of skin color exists to some extent, but is getting rarer every day. There is not and never has been anything that remotely resembles the discrimination against blacks in either the North or South of the US.

Other immigrants, like Mizrachim and Russians, have had and in some cases are still having problems integrating into the society. But these are normal immigrant problems which will be solved by the passage of time, not examples of endemic racism. These groups are well-represented in the Knesset and government, and more and more getting their share of the economic and social status pie.

Nevertheless, the director of IRAC, Anat Hoffman, thinks there is a crisis that needs to solved – by the introduction to Israel of the hierarchy of victimization that has so greatly increased the divisions in American society. In an email to supporters, she writes,

The Racism Crisis Center is modeled after the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Alabama. Like the SPLC, IRAC will use litigation to protect the rights of minorities in Israel by elevating the voices of victims of racism and discrimination.

The Racism Crisis Center will provide support in cases of discrimination, hate speech, and hate crimes against minority populations, and collect data on the growing phenomenon of racism in Israel. The center provides support to victims of all backgrounds: Arab, Ethiopian Jews, Russian Jews, Mizrahi Jews, asylum seekers and migrant workers, and provides services in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Amharic and English.

Perhaps Hoffman is not aware of the criticism that has been leveled against the SPLC for its bias – it seems to see “hate groups” only on the right – its inflation of the number of “hate groups,” its use of lawsuits for intimidation of impecunious opponents, or for its shameless pursuit of cash. Or perhaps she is aware, and she sees all of these things as worth emulating.

One wonders if she will create a list of “hate groups” like that of the SPLC, and if it will include Hamas, Fatah, the Islamic Movement, and similar organizations? Will it list MK Haneen Zouabi as an extremist? Ayman Odeh?

The website of the “crisis center” provides an emergency hotline telephone number and an online form for reporting “hate crimes” and other incidents of racism. In addition to making it possible for someone to blacken the reputation of any individual or group instantaneously, it will provide a rich source for incidents that can be used by IRAC to impress its overseas donors, to produce “documentation” of its charge that Israel is being inundated by a “tide of bigotry” (Hoffman’s phrase), and maybe even – as is the case with the SPLC in the US – to be used to shut down right-wing voices. Will the Israeli branch of PayPal close the accounts of right-wing groups like Im Tirtzu as happened to the Jihad Watch website in the US?

Israel’s social problems can’t be solved by trying to fit them into a conceptual scheme that was developed in a different society in a different environment with totally different problems – and which failed miserably there, arguably making social divisions and conflicts worse. Non-Americans often look at the US with wonderment, unable to understand the obsession with race, the accusations of racism flying in all directions, the “litigizing” of every imaginable dispute, “intersectionality” and the creation of a hierarchy of victimization, and the excesses of political correctness. And this is precisely what Anat Hoffman and her bosses at the URJ want to introduce to Israel!

The URJ’s interests are not necessarily aligned with those of the Jewish state. It has consistently sided with the Left on the issue of the “peace process,” in spite of a total lack of understanding of the security situation here. It is closely associated with the Democratic Party in the US, and indeed couldn’t even bring itself to oppose Obama’s Iran deal. Many Reform rabbis are members of J Street, the phony “pro-Israel” organization that is supported by George Soros and even elements associated with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The head of the URJ, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, was a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet and a board member of the New Israel Fund before taking over the URJ. These are not the people we need to help save Israel from herself, either in our dealings with the Palestinians or our own social issues.

Despite her American education and connections, Anat Hoffman was born in Israel and lived most of her life here, so she should know better. But apparently she is being paid not to.

Posted in Israeli Society | 1 Comment

Hands off my free press!

As the founding fathers of the US understood, limiting speech and expression is a slippery slope. The recent controversy about statues and other symbols is an example of how slippery. Confederate flags are offensive, so get rid of them. But what about statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate personalities? Also offensive, so tear them down too. Andrew Jackson was a racist and guilty of genocide, so take him off the US $20 bill. Woodrow Wilson was a segregationist who went to Princeton, and his name and likeness are all over it; erase him. As Trump pointed out, Washington and Jefferson owned slaves (and held viciously racist beliefs); should their pictures and statues be removed too? Where do you stop? And who decides?

How dare I agree with Trump about anything? Because this time he’s right. But although the removal of symbols is particularly ominous – to me, it reeks of the Taliban, of Stalinism, of 1984’s Ingsoc – the limitation of speech is more immediately dangerous. Events like the shouting down of Charles Murray by students at Middlebury College represent a growing trend in which certain ideas are considered sufficiently objectionable that it becomes acceptable to use force to prevent their expression.

I started my first blog because I had things to say that weren’t popular locally. No big deal, just that my Jewish friends mostly found Israel an embarrassment, while non-Jews thought my obsession with defending it was boring. One day I was reminded of this remark by newspaperman A. J. Liebling,

Freedom of the Press Is Guaranteed Only to Those Who Own One

and I decided to get my own “press.” The Internet made it possible. I couldn’t afford to buy a newspaper or a radio or TV station, and even if I could, I doubt that I could do what I wanted with it and stay in business. But a blog costs nothing and can reach hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people.

Of course it’s not that easy, and I never achieved that degree of success. But I can say exactly what I want to say, and anyone who wants to read it can do so.

Unsurprisingly, the absolute freedom of the Internet has led to it being used for incitement to murder, invasion of privacy and other things which go far beyond the boundaries of legitimate speech. And even more unsurprisingly, those who want to shut up or shout down voices that they simply don’t like are using this fact as an excuse to impose their will on everyone.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), anything but a “conservative” organization, recently criticized three of the most influential companies providing internet services after they acted to take the neo-Nazi website “Daily Stormer” down:

In the wake of Charlottesville, both GoDaddy and Google have refused to manage the domain registration for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is “dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism.” Subsequently Cloudflare, whose service was used to protect the site from denial-of-service attacks, has also dropped them as a customer, with a telling quote from Cloudflare’s CEO: “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.” We agree.

Cloudflare’s CEO may have had regrets, but he didn’t shrink from using what he recognized as his excessive power. While it’s impossible to defend the Daily Stormer, we’re starting down the slippery slope here as well. EFF continues,

…we strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous. That’s because, even when the facts are the most vile, we must remain vigilant when platforms exercise these rights. Because Internet intermediaries, especially those with few competitors, control so much online speech, the consequences of their decisions have far-reaching impacts on speech around the world. And at EFF we see the consequences first hand: every time a company throws a vile neo-Nazi site off the Net, thousands of less visible decisions are made by companies with little oversight or transparency. [my emphasis]

I can personally attest to this. This blog, Abu Yehuda, is blocked by default by Sky, the second largest ISP in Britain (and probably the largest provider of mobile Internet services there). The reason given is content about “weapons.” As I pointed out to them, while I often write about things like Iranian or North Korean nuclear weapons, I don’t tell anyone how to construct them at home. But someone apparently found my message objectionable enough to complain, and Sky blocked the site. This has happened over and over to pro-Israel blogs, so either someone within the company is deliberately blocking these sites, or their procedures don’t include verifying complaints before taking action.

In a worrisome development, Google is partnering with several liberal organizations to help “document hate crimes and events.” This sounds reasonable, until you note that one of Google’s partners is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which – according to Robert Spencer (not to be confused with neo-Nazi Richard Spencer!), has lumped together “groups such as Jihad Watch, [The American Freedom Defense Initiative], the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the Center for Security Policy with the KKK and neo-Nazis.”

SPLC focuses very heavily on right-wing groups and goes easy on radical left-wing ones. While its “hate map” has separate categories for anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, KKK, neo-Nazi, black separatist, Christian identity, racist skinhead, white nationalist, radical traditional Catholicism, hate music, and Holocaust denial groups, there is no entry for radical Islam (those few Muslim groups that do appear are found under “general hate”), and none for anti-Jewish (other than Holocaust denial) or anti-Zionist organizations. Daniel Greenfield’s blog, “Sultan Knish” is included as a “hate group,” but Ammar Shahin, the Davis California Imam who called from his pulpit for Muslims to murder Jews is not on their list of “extremists.”

SPLC, incidentally, is also a prime mover in the movement to remove confederate monuments, which makes sense for an organization whose goal seems to be to stop the expression of views that it dislikes.

Another Google partner is ProPublica, which vows to diligently track “hate incidents” in the coming months. “Everyday people — not just avowed ‘white nationalists’ — intimidate, harass, humiliate and even harm their fellow Americans because of the color of their skin, how they worship or who they love,” they say. One could be excused from wondering if an article critical of Islamic ideology or denying that people have an inalienable right to the gender of their choice will be interpreted as a “hate incident.”

ProPublica created a list of websites that the ADL or SPLC consider hate or extremist. Then they took 70 of the most popular sites on the list and surveyed whether and how they were “monetized,” i.e., whether they ran ads, accepted donations, and so forth. The intention, although it is unstated, is to pressure the companies providing ads or payment processing to drop these sites as customers.

These organizations have created a category of vaguely defined “hate speech,” speech that is offensive – particularly to favored groups like Muslims. The next step is to enforce their version of political correctness.

But who is to decide? If it’s “hate speech” to warn (as several of the sites on the list do) that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to Islamize the United States, then isn’t the viciously anti-Israel site Electronic Intifada (which is not on ProPublica’s list) also employing hate speech when it calls Israel an apartheid state or accuse it of genocide?

I don’t think SPLC, ProPublica or left-leaning tech companies like Google ought to control my speech. The American founding fathers had the right idea. Hate speech has been made illegal in many countries, but the US has always insisted that no matter how vile their words, the government may not interfere with the freedom of expression enjoyed by neo-Nazis, the Westboro Baptist Church, and others like them. Unfortunately, Internet companies are not the government and can legally place restrictions on speech – even though today they may have a greater effect on free expression than the government could!

It’s true that the openness of the Internet has been a mixed blessing. But it’s a mistake to allow some political violence – of which there was more in the 1960s and 70s than there is today – to be the Reichstag Fire that will force us to knuckle under to the totalitarian vision of the PC Left.

I own my printing press and I’m not going to give it up.

Posted in American politics, American society, Jew Hatred | 1 Comment

Why American Jews should make aliyah

Advocating aliyah creates friction. Sometimes people think you are trying to display your moral superiority (“nyah, nyah, I moved to the Jewish state and you didn’t”). Sometimes they think you are trying to steal their children – my wife was a religious school teacher in the US, and some parents didn’t forgive her when their kids became lone soldiers here. Sometimes they hate you for reminding them of what they already believe, but haven’t acted on. Sometimes they think that you are a pest, because they are happy being Americans or French or British. And sometimes they dislike Israel itself, oppose nationalism of any kind, or feel sorry for the Palestinians.

I used to avoid doing it. But not anymore.

For those living in continental Europe or Britain, it’s simply a question of how much Jew-hatred you are prepared to tolerate in your daily life. Yes, you are a tough guy, no antisemite can force you to do anything, but do you really want to live in a place where a large proportion of your neighbors dislike or even hate you? You know it’s going to get worse over time, so unless you perversely enjoy conflict, you are probably already thinking of leaving.

But what if you live in the US? The commitment to tolerance of Jews and other minorities is high, expressions of Jew-hatred have been relatively rare (until very recently), and there are large Jewish communities as well as places where there are practically no Jews at all, so you can choose whichever you prefer. You are not going to be rounded up and forced into ghettos, and your kids probably won’t get beaten up on their way to school (although that’s more likely than it was 10 years ago).

Nevertheless, you should still start planning your aliyah.

As a member of the Jewish people, can you share the national goals of your diaspora home? For example, the US has just delivered a shipment of weapons and equipment to the Lebanese Armed Forces, which we know is tantamount to giving them to Hezbollah, Israel’s most immediately threatening enemy. And this happened during the relatively friendly, if somewhat erratic, Trump Administration! The previous President did far worse, of course, making a deal with Iran that basically granted the regime the right to develop nuclear weapons in a relatively short time span, and pumped money into its economy (including delivering pallets containing millions of dollars in cash). How do you feel about the way your taxes are used?

We don’t want to admit this, but the interests of the US and the Jewish people are not the same. Support for Israel has become a partisan issue, and surveys show that the Democratic party has moved far to the left on issues related to Israel. When the Republican administration is replaced (as it surely will be) by a Democratic one led by a progressive candidate (almost a certainty) then the relationship with Israel will take a sharp turn for the worse.

Yes, you can stay where you are and try to turn it around, a frustrating and probably impossible enterprise (anyone involved in pro-Israel advocacy in the US today knows this). Or you can decide to try to strengthen the Jewish state with your own hands.

Recent news reports about violent confrontations in the US between the extreme Right and Left have been shocking. Not so surprisingly, when their spokespersons are interviewed, it turns out that they agree about one thing – the Jews. The Right prefers to say that Jews control international finance and the media, while the Left is all about intersectional anti-Zionism and how it’s Israel’s fault when black people in America are shot by police, but they both have a problem with Jews.

Don’t kid yourself, the distinction between anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred is one without a difference. Although it is still socially unacceptable on the moderate Left to directly attack Jews (but even that is changing), the Jewish state is a legitimate target. It’s not an accident that the same people support self-determination for every indigenous group except the Jewish people, ignore oppression throughout the world but discover it when Israelis defend themselves against Arab terrorism, and question the right to exist of only one out of 193 UN member states.

If you live in a large city or a suburb of one, are a student or academic, or in a coastal area – in other words, a “blue” area, your neighbors will probably share some of the “progressive” attitudes about Israel mentioned above. If you live in a “red” area, many of them will hold more traditional anti-Jewish beliefs. Which do you prefer? Neither will be comfortable.

Many of the strongest anti-Zionists (and therefore antisemites) are Jewish. This has driven a wedge through liberal Jewish congregations in which many older members still believe that the Zionist aspiration for self-determination in our historical homeland is still legitimate, and those, mostly younger, who see it as a contradiction of their intersectional progressive belief systems. This phenomenon is increasing as anti-Zionism becomes more and more entrenched in the educational system.

What should a Zionist Jew who finds him or herself in such a community do? What if even the leaders of the community share the anti-Zionist position, something increasingly common in liberal congregations?

Polarization in America is increasing. I lived in America through the Clinton, Bush and much of the Obama years, but judging by the media (mainstream, alternative and social) and my own correspondents, I don’t recognize my former home today. Social cohesiveness seem to be disappearing, divisions deepening, the economic state of the middle class never recovered from 2008, and confidence in government, media, business, law enforcement, education, health care – almost every major institution and societal function has fallen to unprecedented lows.

This is bad for America as a whole, but it is terrible for the Jews. For literally thousands of years, whenever there has been social instability, the Jews suffer. They are a visible element (even those who think they aren’t, are) and it is natural and traditional to blame them. They were blamed for the Black Death, for Germany’s defeat in WWI, for Communism, for various financial panics, for AIDS, for 9/11, for Obama and for Trump.

I am not predicting pogroms or purges of Jews. But I do think that life in America for Jews will become less comfortable, possibly more dangerous, and most importantly for those who are Zionists, without national purpose.

I’m not discussing all the problems involved in living in Israel. There are plenty. But in the diaspora, you struggle just to survive. In the Jewish state, you struggle, at least in part, for the Jewish people. If this is something you care about, it’s more significant than anything else.

There are those with good reasons to stay where they are: family, age, responsibilities. But if you believe that the Jewish people should exercise their right of self-determination in their historic homeland and are not prevented from making your own contribution, then – what are you waiting for?

Posted in American Jews, American politics, American society, Jew Hatred, The Jewish people, US-Israel Relations, Zionism | 1 Comment