"Save the Diaspora" - Why?
The Jerusalem Post, in a recent editorial entitled Save the Diaspora, has found the latest cause for the Jewish State of Israel to champion:
According to data presented this week by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, based on studies by the demographer Sergio DellaPergola, America's 5.28 million-strong Jewish community is but 45,000 people larger than Israel's... Israeli Jewry is growing rapidly while the Diaspora's current population of 7.75 million Jews is already a drastic 2.25 million people smaller than a mere 35 years ago, according to DellaPergola's studies.
It is clear to anyone who is intellectually honest that the Jewish community of the United States is in a rapid decline, that the State of Israel is primed to become the largest Jewish community in the world (the only one with a positive growth rate), and that the future of the Jewish People is going to be taking place in the Land of Israel - which is consistent with the fundamental principles of both Judaism and most streams of Zionism.
As such, the logical conclusion that the State of Israel should be drawing from these statistics would be for her to be doing everything in her power to ensure that the shifting of the center of Jewish life from New York & Washington to Jerusalem & Tel Aviv is done as smoothly as possible, and to begin assisting American Jewry in coming to terms with this new reality and demonstrating to them that the Jewish State of Israel can be considered a viable option for those interested in continuing their Jewish lives.
Makes sense, right?
Wrong. At least if you write Op-Eds for the Jerusalem Post.
This is anything but a welcome trend... The way we see it, the demographic and spiritual survival of the Diaspora is vital for the future of the Jewish nation in general, and the Jewish state in particular... We, as the Jewish state, must get down to the business of nourishing the Diaspora... The next government should formally define the revitalization of the Diaspora as a strategic aim.
I will be the first to admit that I would have liked to see the State of Israel become the largest Jewish community in the world through Aliyah alone, and not through the assistance of assimilation. Yet, what is the basis for the claim that the Jewish People and State can't survive without a strong Jewish presence outside of the State of Israel?
We have witnessed over and over again, throughout the long and tortuous 2,000 year Exile, that the Jewish People can not find any lasting peace and security (whether physical or spiritual), and that sooner or later, they will be asked or forced to leave their countries of residence. This was the reasoning behind the establishment of political Zionism and the quest of the Jewish People to re-establish a Jewish State in the Land of Israel; the re-established State of Israel would be a place where the Jewish People could live as masters of their own destiny and not need to rely on the kindness and goodwill of the nations of the world.
That being said, I am in favor of the Jewish State of Israel providing the Jewish communities of the world with assistance for endeavors that are meant to strengthen their Jewish identity, and their connection to the Jewish People, State and the Land of Israel. Yet, by no means should the State of Israel be interested in "revitalizing" the Diaspora, and I say this for three reasons:
1st, it's a bad investment. Despite all the resources (financial and otherwise) that the State of Israel has allocated to trying to "revitalize" the Diaspora, on the whole, there continue to be fewer and fewer Jews to show for it. Programs like birthright and MASA that strengthen Jewish identity while strengthening the connection to the Jewish People and State are worthwhile investments, and should continue to be funded, but they seem to represent the exception rather than the rule.
For all those reasons and so many more, it is in the absolute best interests of the Jewish State of Israel to do everything it can to allow Jerusalem to become the center of the Jewish world, in mind, spirit and body. The American Jewish community is in decline, following the natural course of all Jewish communities in Exile throughout the last two thousand years.
The United States of America has been good to the Jewish People and State, and the American Jewish community has, by and large, been a tremendous asset and faithful ally, and for all of this the State of Israel should be appreciative. However, the State of Israel can't afford to let nostalgia stand in the way of Jewish destiny - and that Jewish destiny is playing itself out in the Land of Israel.