Israel and the Jewish World – A New Relationship

Introduction and Background
 
  1. This paper offers a conceptual framework regarding the future of the relationship between Israel and the Jewish world. It outlines the traditional relationship – the ethos and historical foundations of the relationship – and analyzes the changing reality that has led to a growing rift between the two communities.

  2. The urgency of this topic derives from the large gaps in expectations between Israel and Diaspora communities that often cause tension and friction; from the increasing financial, structural and political difficulties of many Jewish institutions in Israel and overseas; from difficulties in engaging the younger generation of world Jewry with Israel; and from the attack on Israel's legitimacy in recent years.

 
The 'Old Relationship' Between Israel and World Jewry

  1. The relationship between Israel and world Jewry has been based upon an unwritten 'covenant' that stemmed from Classical Zionism and was shaped by the Holocaust and the miracle of the rebirth of the State of Israel. This covenant generated values, priorities, working assumptions, patterns of behavior and institutions that have dominated the relationship for decades:​​

    • Classical Zionism negated the Diaspora and engaged in a systematic attempt to dismantle it through a strong call for Aliyah;

    • State-building was the major effort of the Jewish people and the Government of Israel was the exclusive representative of this endeavor;

    • was to become a model society that would make world Jews 'proud', as well as provide them with a 'safe haven';

    • The Jewish Diaspora was to provide financial and political support to Israel, as well as immigrants (Olim);

    • The 'blood for money' narrative legitimized a rich uncle-poor nephew mindset and a 'wealthy Diaspora' supporting 'needy Israel'. At times, the Diaspora even financed activities that were within the direct responsibilities of the Government of Israel;

    • The identity of Israelis was fully realized through their Jewish nationalism, that rejected Diasporic heritage and diminished the importance of Jewish tradition, texts or rituals;

    • The relationship was managed by an 'Old Boys Network' that included the lay leaders and key professionals of the prominent Jewish institutions, few representatives of the Government of Israel and the leadership of JAFI;

    • A permanent and vibrant Israeli Diaspora did not fit with Classical Zionism, and its existence and needs were ignored;

    • While every Jew around the world was expected to be keenly interested in Israel and to mobilize for its financial and political support, Israelis showed relative disinterest in and often even arrogance towards world Jewry.

  2. However, over the past years, it has become clear that powerful trends have been undermining this 'covenant' to the point of rendering it irrelevant.

 

Tags

Philanthropy, Government, Jewish People, Israeli-Diaspora Relations, Nation-State

2010-08-01

Jewish Peoplehood

The New Contract: Jewish Peoplehood

Israel has a unique status among the Jewish people, irrespective of whether it is framed as its center. Therefore, the new relationship must promote a vision of Israel that successfully balances its security, democracy, prosperity and Jewishness, which allows world Jewry to rally around Israel and to partner for its success.

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