T h e Peac e
ARTHUR J. MAGIDA SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
LESLEY PEARL STAFF WRITER
THE DETRO I T J EWIS H N EWS
n its 45 years, a tiny sliver of land
known as Israel accomplished some
amazing things: It became a homeland,
a refuge; a place where hope reigns;
where Jews became (much to their sur-
prise, but, for some, not to their dismay)
supermen: Israelis, as the writer Amos
Oz joked a few years ago, were reputed
to toil all day in the fields, battle their
enemy at dusk, make mad, passionate,
tireless love all night- then the whole
crazy, mythic cycle again the next day.
This was the stuff of legend and fable — and of self-congrat-
ulatory hyperbole. It was the charismatic, adrenalin-pumping
calling card of Israel, one perhaps indispensable to nation-build-
ing, and one that bolstered the Jewish identity and the Jew-
ish involvement of many Diaspora Jews, especially in America.
A popular song of Israel's pioneering generation proclaimed,
"We have come to the land to build it — and to be rebuilt by it."
The same was true for American Jews: They raised billions to
build Israel — and Israel, in turn, rebuilt them.
After the confusing trauma of the Holocaust, this minus-
cule country made many more proud to be Jews. American Jews,
living 8,000 miles from the Holy Land, shuddered every time
Israel was attacked — and felt personally empowered when Is-
rael vanquished its foes. They became vicarious Israelis — with-
out living on the front lines or having to milk a single cow on a
Israel became, for many, maybe not cen-
tral to their Jewish identity, but certainly in-
tegral to it. In 1972, a North Carolina rabbi told
Time magazine, "Israel's survival is our survival."
In a 1983 poll, 77 percent of American Jews agreed
that "if Israel was destroyed, I would feel as if I had suffered one
of the greatest personal tragedies of my life." One of 10 items
used to measure "Jewish attitudes" in a study of attitudes of
The peace accords may split
Israelis apart, but what are
they doing to U.S. Jews?