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April 22, 1988 - Image 163

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-04-22

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Dream and Reality

What does Zionism mean to Jews today?

hundreds of thousands of refugees who
needed to come. America was demobiliz-
ing and they were afraid of anti-
In the four decades since, most U.S.
Jews have "hopped on the bandwagon."
The most fervent of these so-called new
Zionists are the inheritors of the old
anti-Zionist legacy. Rather than putting
their loyalty into question, Israel, by a
curious paradox, has made otherwise
ordinary American Jews into "leaders?'
"The Israel lobby has become an im-
portant figure in the domestic political
landscape and the leaders of the lobby
are, by definition, figures in America,"
Hertzberg declares.
The prestige Israel has lent
American Jews has made the communi-
ty's life here more comfortable and
secure. Rather than acting as a magnet
for Diaspora Jews, as the early Zionists


Staff Writer

HERTZBERG: Pragmatic life.

"You can't be
excommunicated in the
American Jewish community
for religious deviations, but
you can be excommunicated if
the majority opinion is that
you are insufficiently devoted
to Israel.

envisoned, Israel is now an attractive
reason to stay in America.
"What, indeed, would happen if
all the members of AIPAC in Detroit
moved to Israel? Of what consequence
would they be tomorrow morning in
Israel has done little to change this
state of affairs, in Hertzberg's opinion,
and has not challenged Diaspora Jews

to make aliyah — immigration to Israel
— the primary act of support for the
Jewish state.
Israelis, instead, have entered into
a social compact with U.S. Jews. It
works this way: "So long as you give
money and political support and are not
a nuisance, we (Israelis) are not going
to remind you that you really are in-
ferior for not going on aliyah."

Israel serves American Jews as a
homeland to which they can look back
at fondly, as Irish Americans view
Ireland or Italian-Americans see Italy,
Hertzberg says.
"What we now have in America is
a very pragmatic Jewish life in which,
parodoxically, the effort for Israel is a
form of integration of American Jews
into the American scene."

JERUSALEM UNIFIED: Israeli troops prayed at the Western
Wall as the Six-Day War neared an end, an event seen as
miraculous by Jews throughout the world.

Zionism is the dream, and now
the reality, of a Jewish home-
land in Israel."
"Zionism is the belief that
there should be a place where
Jews can go and live and prosper."
Each Jew, it seems, has a personal
vision of Zionism. These self-definitions
go beyond formulas set by Zionist
organizations or the Zionist founding
fathers. It shows the extent that the
Zionist idea has penetrated the Jewish
Love of Zion should translate into
support of Zion, according to Norman
Naimark, president of the Detroit
Zionist Federation. Zionists should visit
Israel and encourage others to visit,
especially young people, Naimark says.
Zionists should support Israel financial-
ly; Zionists should criticize Israel with
love; Zionists should make aliyah.
Is there an obligation to make
Aliyah is an option, says Marc Ber-
man, president of the Union of Students
for Israel at the 'University of Michigan.
"Zionism means a home address,"
comments Rabbi M. Robert Syme of
Temple Israel and local president of the
Zionist Organization of America. "After
1,900 years, Jews now have a home ad-
dress if they so wish."
"Even if you live somewhere else,
your heart and your mind belong with
Israel, even if your body doesn't," ex-
plains Paul D. Borman, a member of the
Jewish Welfare Federation's executive
"By all means aliyah should be en-
couraged and supported," says
Naimark, "for young adults who
haven't found their life's calling yet."
New Zionism is the term that was
coined for support of Israel without
aliyah. "I came to terms with my own

feelings a long time ago," says Federa-
tion president Dr. Conrad Giles. "We're
working for the (local Jewish) communi-
ty and raising funds for both the com-
munity and for Israel. We're making a
different statement."
If the United States is our land of
choice, why is Hatikvah — Israel's na-
tional anthem — sung at every
American Jewish event, just after the
Star Spangled Banner? Why, each
Passover, do we declare "Next year in
Jerusalem" if we have no intention of
being in Jerusalem next year?
"In the past, it literally was 'Next
year in Jerusalem' — a free city for
Jews," says Rabbi Syme. "Today it
means, next year may Jerusalem be a
city of peace.
"Israel has also been our spiritual
land. It wasn't made to be taken literal-
Not everyone agrees that Israel
merely is an insurance policy against
anti-Semitism or a metaphorical
homeland for U.S. Jews.
"It's OK to support Israel with
money, but it's more important to go
there," says Mathew May, • a freshman
at Wayne State University and alum-
nus of the Otzma program, a year of
work and study in Israel.
Every Jew should at least make the
attempt to live in Israel, and Jewish
organizations should do more to en-
courage and support aliyah, says May,
who will attend Tel Aviv University in
the fall. Without aliyah, Jews in Israel
will lose demographic ground. "Even-
tually Israel will become an Arab
May suspects that fear prevents
American Jews from giving the support
Israel genuinely needs.
"People are afraid to go. Or they
think that Israel is something that
won't last. They're afraid that Israel
won't be here tomorrow and they're
afraid to take that chance."

SETTLING IN: Religious Jews, led by the Gush Emunim movement, began settlements in the territories,
claiming biblical heritage and creating political controversy.


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