Aliyah should be driven by Zionism, nothing else
Op-ed: Israeli politicians don't talk about immigration at AIPAC or at pro-Israel rallies. They didn’t talk about aliyah after the 9/11 attacks or after occasional attacks on Jewish sites. They don’t talk about it, because it's not convenient in America.
We spoke for an hour about the State of Israel's character. They had difficult questions about radical ultra-Orthodox men who spat on a girl on a bus and about operational errors which led to the death of innocent people during Operation Protective Edge.
They didn't ask these questions defiantly, but in order to know how to respond. They were a group of young American leaders.
In the end, a moment before we said goodbye, they asked how will we be able ensure that Israel remains a liberal state like when it was established. Why more than 50% of first grade students don't study in the Zionist educational system. How can we be sure that the demographic changes won't change the state's character as well?
We had a good conversation. A person who stands in front of an audience usually knows when it's working and when it's not. Nonetheless, I ruined the atmosphere.
"Whoever is concerned about Israel should immigrate to Israel and be here," I said. "Whoever wants to preserve the liberal nature must do it himself." Demography is not just about numbers; it's also a historical battle over the directions the Jewish people are headed in.
There are declarations in the Zionist Movement which require no explanation, even when it's not convenient. So is the call for Jews to immigrate to Israel. All prime ministers have called on Jews to make aliyah. It's part of the Zionist ethos and legacy.
It’s easy urging only the miserable Diaspora Jews to immigrate to Israel – those who live in third world countries and are looking for salvation, a livelihood and immigration options.
In the past 100 years, Zionism has been the refuge of few people. Most of those who arrived here did it for other reasons, free of collective ideology. The calls to immigrate to Israel have also become selective over the years. There are those who are concerned about the Jews abandoning the fleshpot.
The Israelis' organization in the US held a conference at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem about a year ago. Late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once referred to them as "cowardly dropouts." In the Israeli jargon, they are called emigrants.
It's easy to focus on a number of young people who continuously complain and compare the price of pudding in Germany, but most Israelis are in the US.
The new organization is funded by an American billionaire who has a great amount of influence on what is taking place in Israel. Their intentions are good, the word "Zionism" can be heard there quite often, but the ideology needs an in-depth examination.
A number of politicians were invited to address the Israeli-Americans at the heavily-funded conference. Two senior right-wing ministers were the first to take the stage. They congratulated and praised, caressed and debated. They didn’t say a word about aliyah.
The Israeli emigrants, sponsored by their organization, felt good about themselves, about the influence they have on Israel, about the influence attributed to them in the United States and the help they are giving Israel. There, from far away, near the fleshpot.
Those looking for calls to immigrate in other events will have a hard time finding them. Israeli politicians don't talk about aliyah at AIPAC or at pro-Israel rallies. They didn’t talk about aliyah after the 9/11 attacks or after occasional attacks on Jewish sites. They don’t talk about it, because it's not convenient in America.
I found it difficult to understand the left's criticism against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. Since when is aliyah a matter which belongs to the left or to the right?
I despise right-wing officials' attempt to claim that they have a monopoly over Zionism, just like I loathe the left-wing officials' attempt to claim that they have a monopoly over Zionism.
The left shoots itself in the foot every time it opposes one of the principles of Zionism – a nation state, settlement, aliyah – with claims of anachronism. The Israelis, those who like Netanyahu and those who hate him, still feel part of the Zionist Movement.
And after all this, Netanyahu should hold a mirror up to his face and ask himself why he has been filled with Zionism in Paris of all places. After all, the terror attack at the Jewish supermarket – and even all anti-Semitic incidents in France – are not a real reason for calling for aliyah. Statistically, France's Jews have a higher chance of being hit by terror in Israel than in any Western country.
I am a living example: I am 40 years old and I have already been fired on several times during my military service, stoned several times in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria as a citizen, and I hold a long list of dead and wounded friends. There is not a single Jew in France with such a list.
The reason for calls to "make aliyah" should be Zionism, because that's the right thing to do. Everywhere, every time. Equal Zionism. Including in America, among our friends with the money and expensive organizations.