Israel: Home of the Nebs?
Elie Wiesel calls upon Israel to take in Darfur refugees
Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel has called on Israel to take in refugees from Darfur. In an interview in the upcoming issue of Haaretz Magazine, Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, says, "We as Jews are obliged to help not only Jews. I was a refugee and therefore I am in favor of admitting refugees. I thought it was very laudable when Israel became the first country to admit the Vietnamese boat people. History constantly chooses a capital of human suffering, and Darfur is today the capital of human suffering. Israel should absorb refugees from Darfur, even a symbolic number."
1) Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, and self-declared refugee, decided long ago to make the United States of America his home, as such, if he is in favor of admitting refugees from Darfur, why not call upon the United States to open her borders? Could it be that Wiesel recalled the refusal of the United States to allow the Jews fleeing Europe during the Sho'ah to find refuge on her shores that lead him to turn to Israel?
2) Placing the merit of Wiesel's request aside, in choosing to make the United States his home, does Wiesel have the right to call upon the State of Israel to admit refugees from Darfur (or to implement any other policy)?
3) While Wiesel's request may be a just one, why do I get the impression that for Wiesel, the State of Israel exists merely to serve as home to refugees and others who are fleeing persecution?
Could it be, that there might actually be Jews (like myself) who have chosen to make Aliyah to the Jewish State of Israel for positive reasons, and who are proud to call Israel home?
4) Is it too difficult for Elie Wiesel to comprehend, that while he may be living a comfortable (Jewish?) life in the United States, and as such, the State of Israel exists for him solely as an option of last resort, that no amount of wishful thinking or blissful ignorance will change the fact the that today, the Jewish State of Israel is home to the single largest Jewish community in the world; is the only Jewish community in the world that can boast of a positive growth rate; is on the verge of having the majority of world Jewry living within her borders (something that has not occurred in over 2,500 years - not since the destruction of the 1st Temple), all the while, the American Jewish community continues its steady physical and spiritual decline?
I am proud to be living in the Jewish State of Israel, a state that was concerned for the well-being of the "Vietnamese boat people"; a state that, in her short history, has provided a home to hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Jews who experienced various forms of distress and persecution throughout the world, whether from Arab countries, Ethiopia, the Former Soviet Union, France, or Argentina; a country that has reached out to nations in distress throughout the world, but do not misconstrue any of the above to believe that the State of Israel exists solely as a place of refuge for those who are persecuted or who have nowhere else to turn.
True, the Jewish State of Israel isn't quite yet the "Light unto the Nations" which our Torah and Prophets envisioned, but the challenges we face here are the challenges of the Jewish People, and by living here, I am proud to be doing my share to help the Jewish people and State overcome those challenges; proud to be living in the Land of my Forefathers, the physical, spiritual and cultural center of the Jewish world, and proud to be taking an active role in shaping the future of the Jewish State of Israel, working to ensure that it will be a place that will allow for the collective potnetial and destiny of the Jewish People to be realized...
and that's something that Elie Wiesel can only pay lip service to.
(For more on this topic, see With Friends Like You: What Israelis Really Think About American Jews by Matti Golan).