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New York Photo: AFP
New York Photo: AFP
 
 

Meat pots instead of falafel

Op-ed: Israel is obligated to do just one thing for those who abandon it – tell them the truth

Yoaz Hendel
Published: 10.12.13, 12:06 / Israel Opinion

The new emigrants are the old emigrants. There have always been people who left the country, and there have always been people who were angry at them for it. There is nothing new under the sun. There are only new politicians who are saying the same things.

 

In December 2011 the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption launched a campaign targeting Israelis who live abroad. The message was direct and harsh. Regardless of how Israeli you feel, you're children do not, the announcer said. The Israelis were insulted. The American Jews switched the word "Israelis" with the word "Jews" and were insulted as well. A crisis erupted - one of many. The complaints made it all the way to the PM's Office. The American Jews, mostly the affluent ones, like to feel that they are at the center, bestowing their grace on little Israel. The campaign disrupted their sense of ideological comfort in the Diaspora.

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Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver did not know what hit her. She approved the campaign as a means of encouraging aliyah. She said what many before her had said. What is the call to "come home" compared with Yitzhak Rabin's famous "leftover weaklings" remark about the emigrants? What are TV campaigns featuring smiling parents and detached children compared with past Israeli leaders calling on Jews living abroad to leave their homeland and go to the place where they are told to go? The campaign was taken off the air quickly, without any discussion or thought about what message Israel was sending to the Diaspora Jews.

  

A recent poll showed that 58% of all American Jews marry outside the faith. The Jewish nation is shrinking. The parents feel Jewish, the children less so. Young Jews are becoming detached from Israel. Some of it is our fault; most of it is their fault. This is also true for Israeli emigrants. The first generation is committed; the second generation is becoming detached from Israel. This is the way of the world.

  

Considering the statistics, Minister Landver's campaign was incredibly accurate and polite. Sixty-five years after the inception of the state of the Jews, half of the Jews in the world still prefer to sit by the meat pots in the Diaspora rather than eat falafel in Israel. The emissaries of the Jewish Agency, which used to focus all of its efforts on encouraging aliyah, are working on educational initiatives in the Diaspora – a kind of acceptance of Jewish life overseas, far from the Zionist vision.

  

The message is completely different nowadays. Israeli emigrants who make it abroad are cultural heroes and the wealthy Jews are a great help. In a state of such harmony, no one wants to be disrupted by facts and statistics.

  

I recently read an article about the youngsters from the Rothschild social revolution who have left the country over the past two years due to disappointment and financial difficulties. I do not have any contempt for them; only for the ideology they have created to support their departure from Israel. There is no angry generation, there are detached youngsters. I am also surrounded by childhood friends and friends from the army – secular, religious, leftists and rightists – who have lived abroad. All of them, except one, returned to Israel. They did not consider leaving Israel permanently an option. It is a matter of education, values and a sense of shame.

  

Lapid is right. Uzi Dayan is right. Sofa Landver was right. The State of Israel's job is to remind people that the Zionist vision is the establishment of a national home in the Land of Israel. Those who leave are abandoning the Zionist vision. It may sound outdated and hurtful at times, but the words must be said. Israel is obligated to do at least one thing for those who abandon it – tell them the truth.

 

 

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