Causing quite an uproar among Diaspora Jewry, famed Israeli author AB Yehoshua opened the centennial celebration of the American Jewish Committee with talk or the supreme importance of Israel in Jewish identity, and how only the state of Israel can ensure the survival of the Jewish People.
“For me, Avraham Yehoshua, there is no alternative… I cannot keep my identity outside Israel. [Being] Israeli is my skin, not my jacket. You are changing jackets… you are changing countries like changing jackets. I have my skin, the territory,” the author told the audience, adding that Israeli Jews live a Jewish life in a totality that the American Jews do not know.
Having written for this blog for the past two years, I could have told him that his comments were gonna be incendiary (remember last year’s yom haatzmaut post?), but Yehoshua expressed astonishment.
Yehoshua himself told The Jerusalem Post that he was surprised by the uproar over his arguments. “It seems to me obvious that our Jewish life in Israel is more total than anywhere outside Israel.”
None of this is to say that Israel as it currently exists is all that it needs to be, but it’s a pretty fricken awesome place to be anyway.
What plagues Diaspora Jewry? intermarriage, assimilation and the phantom threat of anti-semitism. It is only in Israel that we can get past our fears and our otherness and move forward. It is only here that secular Jewry is sustainable. It is here that we can learn the responsibilities of being a majority. It is here that we can concern ourselves with Jewish purpose, not just Jewish involvement. It is here that we can discover who we really are when we are when we are not defining ourselves by who we are not.
Not that there’s anything wrong with choosing to live in the diaspora, but it’s just a different plane of Jewish existence here, and for all of this country’s shtus, I love it.