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April 22, 1988 - Image 31

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

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

feelings a long time ago," says Federa-
tion president Dr. Conrad Giles. "We're
Staff Writer
working for the (local Jewish) communi-
ty and raising funds for both the com-
ionism is the dream, and now munity and for Israel. We're making a
the reality, of a Jewish home- different statement?'
land in Israel."
If the United States is our land of
"Zionism is the belief that choice, why is Hatikvah — Israel's na-
there should be a place where tional anthem — sung at every
Jews can go and live and prosper."
American Jewish event, just after the
Each Jew, it seems, has a personal Star Spangled Banner? Why, each
vision of Zionism. These self-definitions
Passover, do we declare "Next year in
go beyond formulas set by Zionist
Jerusalem" if we have no intention of
organizations or the Zionist founding being in Jerusalem next year?
fathers. It shows the extent that the
"In the past, it literally was 'Next
Zionist idea has penetrated the Jewish year in Jerusalem' — a free city for
Jews," says Rabbi Syme. "Today it
Love of Zion should translate into
means, next year may Jerusalem be a
support of Zion, according to Norman
city of peace.
Naimark, president of the Detroit
"Israel has also been our spiritual
Zionist Federation. Zionists should visit
land. It wasn't made to be taken literal-
Israel and encourage others to visit,
especially young people, Naimark says.
Not everyone agrees that Israel
Zionists should support Israel financial-
merely is an insurance policy against
ly; Zionists should criticize Israel with
anti-Semitism or a metaphorical
love; Zionists should make aliyah.
homeland for U.S. Jews.
Is there an obligation to make
"It's OK to support Israel with
money, but it's more important to go
Aliyah is an option, says Marc Ber-
there," says Mathew. May, a freshman
man, president of the Union of Students
at Wayne State University and alum-
for Israel at the University of Michigan.
nus of the Otzma program, a year of
"Zionism means a home address,"
work and study in Israel.
comments Rabbi M. Robert Syme of
Every Jew should at least make the
Thmple Israel and local president of the
attempt to live in Israel, and Jewish
Zionist Organization of America. "After
organizations should do more to en-
1,900 years, Jews now have a home ad-
courage and support aliyah, says May,
dress if they so wish!'
who will attend Tel Aviv University in
"Even if you live somewhere else,
the fall. Without aliyah, Jews in Israel
your heart and your mind belong with
will lose demographic ground. "Even-
Israel, even if your body doesn't," ex-
tually Israel will become an Arab
plains Paul D. Borman, a member of the
Jewish Welfare Federation's executive
May suspects that fear prevents
"By all means aliyah should be en- American Jews from giving the support
couraged and supported," says Israel genuinely • needs.
"People are afraid to go. Or they
Naimark, "for young adults who
think that Israel is something that
haven't found their life's calling yet!'
New Zionism is the term that was won't last. They're afraid that Israel
won't be here tomorrow and they're
coined for support of Israel without
afraid to take that chance."
aliyah. "I came to terms with my own


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!"

"Inv r wr.mwr, •7:1 5, e iveNi 441:14 4..


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.

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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