Monday, July 11, 2005

Dr. Demography - Or How I Came to be a Citizen of the State of Israel Without Ever Leaving Brooklyn

I will say this at the outset, so everyone is forewarned: This posting may be slightly cynical - for those who get turned off by such things...

In today's Ha'aretz there is an article entitled: U.S. Jewish group touts Israeli citizenship for Diaspora Jews, which basically says the following:

According to a proposal submitted to various bodies of the Israeli government by the heads of Russian American Jews for Israel (RAJI), in order to help solve Israel's demographic (and economic) dilemmas, Diaspora Jews would be able to receive Israeli citizenship provided that they meet the following 3 requirements:

1) "Invest at least $1,000 in the Israeli economy - whether by purchasing real estate, or by buying shares in Israeli companies or government bonds".

2) "Undergo basic military training in a special week-long course. (According to the RAJI leaders, the training "would qualify the new citizens to bear arms on behalf of the State of Israel if a desperate need arises)."

3) "Prove proficiency in Hebrew at a level that permits them to take an active interest in life in Israel."


What this proposal basically says is that anyone who is willing to donate $1,000 (which in the big picture is not a lot of money), come to Israel to "play" soldier for a week, and learn how to order a falafel in Hebrew is fit to decide the fate of the Jewish State of Israel - all from the comfort of his own home... in Brooklyn. It's like having all the benefits of living in Israel, without having to live there and deal with all the challenges that come along with living in Israel (not to mention only having to keep one day of Yom tov, while living overseas, right?).

Now, I strongly believe that the State of Israel, as the Jewish State represents the entire Jewish People, both those who find themselves living in Israel, along with those that do not (yet) live in Israel. I also accept the desire (perhaps right?) of Jews living outside of Israel to express their opinions (in proper forums) on what is happening here in Israel and how to improve things here.

However, the bottom line is that, in many ways, the demographic threat facing the Jewish State represents "put up or shut up" time for world Jewry. It is time for World Jewry to decide exactly how important the State of Israel remaining a Jewish state is to them. While I am deeply touched that the American Jewish community recognizes the demographic threat that the State of Israel is facing, they need to recognize that not all problems can be solved in financial terms.

If one believes that it is critical that Israel remain a Jewish State, then one of the only ways to help ensure that reality, short of transfer or Israel no longer being a democracy, is through Aliyah. Now, for many of my Jewish brothers and sisters around the world, that may not be an option that they would consider viable... and that is fine, but please spare me these contrived proposals dealing with how to solve Israel's demographic dilemma that all have as their underlying principle: "Israel, as a Jewish State, is a great place to visit (and even play soldier for a week while speaking some Hebrew), but I would never want to live there".

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