America’s Bifurcated Jews

America’s Bifurcated Jews

New York City : NY : USA | May 12, 2011 at 7:56 AM PDT
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CIA Archives: Mohamed Hassanein Heikal Interview on the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Part 5 (1972)

More and more, Jews in America are splitting into two distinct factions. This division is over the one thing that once gave Jews a unifying subject, namely Israel. While the Jewish organizations based on Zionism, the promises to return home to Israel, remained strongly in defense of Israel are facing shrinking membership as more and more American Jews retreat from their support for Israel. Too many Jews have started to view Israel as an inconvenience and the need to defend Israel has become pressing, difficult, and frequent while much of the world is turning against Israel. As the enemies of Israel gain in numbers, show greater bravado and grow louder and ever more shrill, too many American (and even Israeli) Jews take the path of least resistance rather than speaking up and confronting Israel’s strident enemies, basically figuring if you can’t beat them, join them. Many American Jews are more comfortable with the leftist liberal feel good positions which provide them with a sense of wellbeing and general acceptance rather than draw attention to themselves by taking the more difficult position to stand with Israel which has become unacceptable to much of those who identify as liberals, progressives, intellectuals, and human rights advocates.

Another division of American Jews that falls mostly down the same line are those Jews who identify themselves as Zionists, either wishing or planning on going home to Israel. Oddly enough, it is not solely the religious Jews who wish to return to Israel but Jews from both the religious and secular Jewish Americans. Currently, it takes honest desire and strong convictions to take the plunge and follow one’s Zionist heart and leave behind the easy life in America and take the challenge of starting a new life in Israel which poses some easily identifiable difficulties. This is likely to begin to change in the next couple of decades and Jews will begin to find Israel as a preferable and safer place to be. The major reason behind this will be as more American Jews emigrate to Israel, the remaining Jews will face a choice of remaining Jewish in Israel or assimilating so far as to be lost to Judaism and lose their Jewish identity. The Jewish people have faced the threat of assimilation numerous times throughout history.

One of the earliest cases of assimilation took place during the Babylonian occupation of the northern tribes of Israel when the Babylonians were unable to conquer the tribe of Judah. The tribes that were taken captive by the Babylonians are what have since then been referred to as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Another example was during the Seleucid Greek conquest from hence came the phrase Hellenization. This assimilation continued through the Roman occupation causing some permanent divisions of the Jews which persist today. Many Jews have been lost to assimilation over the centuries in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Assimilation would always increase during times of greater persecution and oppression which made being Jewish either difficult or proved fatal. America is an example of the Hellenization of the Jews due to the fact that Jews are currently well accepted and comfortable in America. In some ways it is strange but Jews fall victim to assimilation under the opposing conditions of relative complete acceptance or viscous persecution. The reasons are opposite, persecution causes escapism, if they don’t know I’m Jewish I’ll be safe, or acceptance which blurs the difference of being Jewish also erasing Jewish identity. Today, in America, Jews are being challenged to either protect and defend Israel or complete their assimilation and forget Israel, and forget Jerusalem. Jews are to never forget Jerusalem, for if they do they are wishing to lose their ability to speak and function normally (Psalm 137:5). Those who today find defending Israel too difficult will in the future find remaining Jewish too difficult.

Beyond the Cusp

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in a rally in Jerusalem
Ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in a rally in Jerusalem
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