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July 01, 1994 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-07-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Because A Lexus LS Is
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delegates) were given in English,
in deference to half the audience
that did not speak Hebrew. On
the second day, after U.S. stal-
warts had contritely promised to
crash-course their way into He-
brew fluency as part of a "Jewish
literacy" that will supposedly be
a job requirement for future Di-
aspora leaders, Mr. Rabin and
Mr. Weizman spoke in Hebrew
(with instant translation provid-
ed in English, Spanish and
With some sense of relief, par-
ticipants turned to one practical

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from the Diaspora, unchanged in
note and urgency from the ex-
hortations of David Ben-Gurion.
The clarion call reflected the
widespread Israel principle of
Shilat Hagolah — the negation
of the Exile — which rests on two
Jewish life in the Diaspora is
inherently distorted and inferior
to that in Israel, and, in any case,
it is doomed to inevitable decline,
either through another Hitler or
As Boston writer Leonard Fein
put it, "they're saying that either
well be raped by our enemies or
seduced by our friends." In either
case, the message was that Jews
can only lead a "pure" life in Is-
The handwringing over the
doom of the Diaspora was almost
matched by the agonizing over
the complete disinterest by Israeli
youth in Jewish subjects, among
them the Diaspora, Jewish ethos
(including the Bible), and even
their country's own recent histo-
"We're raising a generation of
Hebrew-speaking goyim,"
lamented one Israeli participant.
At the end of the first day's pro-
ceedings, many American par-
Yossi Benin
ticipants expressed private
project everyone could agree on: criticism of the proceedings. None
a scheme to send every willing was more acerbic that Harvard
young Diaspora Jew, in his or her law professor Alan Dershowitz,
late teens, to Israel for a month who termed the meeting a disas-
to a year, under the concept of
hetzi-aliyah, or half-way aliyah.
The most detailed outline of
such a program was presented by
Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi
Beilin, who proposed that it be
funded by a new Israel-Diaspora
membership organization, with
democratically elected leaders, to
be called Beit Ysrael.
The corollary to the Beit Ysrael
proposal assured Mr. Beilin front-
page headlines in every Israeli
Mr. Beilin, long the enfant ter-
rible of the Israeli political es-
tablishment, mildly suggested
that the Jewish Agency and
World Zionist Organization, the Leonard Fein
traditional institutions linking
Israel and world Jewry, be dis-
mantled and replaced by Beit Ys- ter, sunk by too many speeches
rael. As a throwaway line, Mr. that stifled real dialogue, the vast
Beilin added that the Israel gulf between Israeli and Diaspo-
Bonds organization had outlived ra thinking, and poor organiza-
its usefulness and should be con- tion.
(One of the most annoying
verted into a worldwide mutual
fund for entrepreneurial invest- omissions was the complete lack
of identification of participants
ment in Israel's economy.
Some of the top brass of the and speakers, except for their na-
Jewish Agency stormed out of the tionality. This forced panel
tent after Mr. Beilin's remarks, chairmen like Martin Peretz of
and Mr. Rabin gave him a verbal the New Republic magazine to
spanking the following day. But grope for fill-in phrases, such as
Mr. Beilin found a measure of "of course, our speaker needs no
support among participants, es- introduction."
In a semi-comical incident,
pecially in the British delegation.
Throughout the long, hot ses- Samuel Trigano of France was
sions, whatever the nominal top- ringingly introduced as the
founder of Club Med, but turned
Mr. Weizman returned to the out to be a distinguished philoso-
one unalterable demand of aliyah pher and writer.)

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