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American Jews shocked as essence of Zionism is exposed

There was nothing particularly new about the ads which so shocked American Jewry. They simply exposed a face of Zionism most American Jews rather not see.

In the last few days there has been a hullabaloo about several ads published by the Ministry of Aliyah Absorption (not, as it is often referred to, “Immigration Absorption”; more on this below). Much of it was the result of Jeffrey Goldberg getting annoyed and claiming that “Netanyahu’s government suggests Israelis avoid Marrying American Jews.”

Netanyahu, being Netanyahu, did what he knows best: He immediately ordered the ministry responsible to put down those ads, and outreached to American leaders in order to convince them he is still their friend. Naturally, such cravenness would not play well among the Israeli public, so Netanyahu avoided saying anything about the mess to the Israeli press – which, of course, did not like learning about it from the American press.

Admittedly, this is somewhat unfair to Netanyahu. For starters, they have nothing to do with him. They were produced by the Ministry of Aliyah Absorption (on which, immediately), held by Israel Beitenu’s (Liberman’s party) Sopha Landver. Netanyahu himself once married an American woman (his second marriage), so they most certainly are not directed at him.

Secondly, and most importantly, those ads show the essence of Zionism. The main concept of Zionism is that Jewish life, outside of their national homeland, is the life of an invalid. They cannot be truly Jewish life since they lack the national element of Judaism. Jews can only be fully Jews when they live in Israel. An early Zionist writer, Yehuda Pinsker, compared the lives of diaspora Jews to that of the undead, and went further on to say anti-Semitism is a natural response to the unnatural existence of deracinated Diaspora Jews.

Accordingly, Zionism views Jewish life abroad with disdain. This is reflected in the language: A Jew who immigrates to Israel is called an “oleh,” literally someone who transcends; One who emigrates from Israel is called a “yored,” literally someone going down. Hence, the need for an a ministry who will cater to the needs of Jews who “make aliyah” – The Ministry of Aliyah Absorption. Incidentally, it is extremely difficult for a non-Jew to immigrate to Israel.

Oops, the truth leaked. Netanyahu speaking to the Jewish Agency. (Photo: Jewish Agency for Israel, cc by-nd 2.0)

Oops, the truth leaked. Netanyahu speaking to the Jewish Agency. (Photo: Jewish Agency for Israel, cc by-nd 2.0)

Israeli Jews, particularly the hardcore Zionists, view Diaspora Jews with thinly veiled contempt, which erupts to the surface from time to time – such as when former President Weizman called upon American Jews to leave the US and come to Israel, and so fulfill their destiny, or when the author A.B. Yohoshua told American Jews in 2006 that “Outside of Israel, Judaism cannot exist. You are dealing with a Judaism of plug and play… You switch identities as you change your jackets… If China becomes stronger than the US, you would all move to China.” This is not particularly new: The Palestine/Israel branch of the historic Zionist movement always considered Zionists living in Israel to be superior to Jews living in the Diaspora, and considered Diaspora Jews not as independent human beings but rather as Zionist building blocks. Nowhere was this more evident that in Ben Gurion’s famous saying, that if he had to choose between a million Jewish children being saved by being sent to Britain or just half of them saved, but sent to Palestine, he would choose the latter. For hardcore Zionists, Diaspora Jews are failures; They can only be redeemed by joining our armed ghetto.

Therefore, the very idea of an Israeli Jew leaving the country and joining the Diaspora is disgusting to Israeli Zionists, particularly the older ones. Former PM Rabin called them “a residue of cowards.” For most Zionists, the idea of an Israeli Jew losing himself and his hard-won identity in the Diaspora, basically spitting on all that Zionism fought for, is loathsome. Hence the ads: They are trying to save Israeli Jews from sinking to the level of “regular Jews,” or, God forbid, “assimilating” with the gentiles.

Naturally enough, most Zionists did not put it exactly this way to American Jews – Weizman and Yohoshua were exceptional in their bluntness. Many American Jews would be surprised how many Israelis hold them in contempt – unless, as Goldberg did, they do the Zionist thing, move over to Israel and pass our ritual of passage, service in the IDF. Those who do that are considered heroes – people who have left the soft Diaspora behind and joined Israelis in their increasingly bitter quest for revenge on history. As a result, Goldberg may never have faced those sentiments.

But they exist, they predominate (though, among the younger Israelis, they are speedily waning), and there is nothing new about them. They were dominant even before Israel existed, when “those who stormed Canaan” called Diaspora Jews, survivors of the Holocaust, with cruelty they would take decades to fully digest, “soapies.”
For more on this issue from +972:
Israel cancels marriage ad after angry response from US Jews

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    1. Great article! I really appreciate the analysis.

      Reply to Comment
    2. My pleasure 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides

      I wish a lot more American Jews could be exposed to the contempt in which they are held by Israelis – many of whom do not even consider them real Jews. Maybe then they’d take down the blue flag from the bimah and concentrate instead on the Torah.

      Reply to Comment
    4. yidishkind

      If Israelis had a slightly different perspective, they’d be the ones insulted by these ads. After all, Jewish culture has survived for 2000 years without a country and will continue to survive (despite propagandists saying otherwise) for another millennium in the diaspora. Why is it that Zionists assume that Israeli culture is so WEAK that it can’t survive a generation outside of what Mr. Gurvitz calls it’s “ghetto?” If Israelis were a little more culturally sophisticated they’d be the ones who are insulted, since these ads say that their culture is fundamentally weaker than the Yiddish and Ladino cultures it was created to replace, which survived for 1000 and 500 years respectively in Europe.

      Although I’m in my early 20s I grew up with modern Yiddish culture in the Bundist tradition. The approach was very different than Israeli culture. Instead of ghettoizing Judaism in an ancestral homeland it sought to maintain a separate culture among the nations of the (Eastern European) diaspora while fighting for the rights of its neighboring people (unlike the Israeli model of supporting their erosion). Obviously 20th century history didn’t cooperate but that had less to do with Yiddish Eastern Europe and any supposed weakness and more to do with a world gone mad at war. In any case, there’s a lot Israelis could learn from my culture. There’s a new film on the Bund in Hebrew, I’d suggest that the writers of +972 should see it and visit the Bund offices in Tel Aviv and speak to Itzhak Luden who always appreciates guests.

      Yiddish and its cultured survived for 1000 years on the move and continues to survive among Hasidim and a small group of “modern” people like myself. I feel sorry for my Israeli cousins if as these ads suggest their culture is truly that much weaker.

      Reading Israeli literature and Yiddish literature it’s clear that the origins of the former were in the latter, despite efforts by the Hebrew writers to distance themselves from the Hebrew tradition (it’s not without reason that the best early Hebrew prose writer Agnon was not anti-Yiddish and embraced critics who saw him as being part of the Yiddish tradition). And although you won’t believe me, Israeli literature has yet to reach the levels of interwar Yiddish literature. Israeli literature has more modern events and is written in a language far more people can read (and as such is much more widely translated) but as works of art they haven’t hit the level of modern diaspora Jewish culture. And how could it with boars A.B. Yohoshoa who take pride in being divorced from Jewish roots, as their representatives? (If you want a great modern Israeli writer whose sensibilities are very Jewish, read Keret whom I discovered, ironically enough, in Yiddish translation).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mitchell Cohen

      Well, the only add I got to see (before others were taken down) was the one where the child keeps calling his Abba “daddy” three times. His Abba only responds when he FINALLY says, “Abba”. Then the add just says, the parents will always be Israelis (not Jewish), while their kids will not. If Netanyahu’s government really suggested that Israeli Jews avoid marrying American Jews, then I condemn that. Other than that, however, I see nothing wrong (or offensive for that matter) with trying to encourage Israelis to come home to their native country. And let us remember, A.B. Yehoshua would hardly be a Netanyahu/Lieberman supporter. His views are more like those of this site….

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mitchell Cohen

      Lest there be a misunderstanding in my previous post, I meant that the parents will always be ISRAELIS and that their kids will not remain ISRAELI (Judaism is not mentioned in the add). I just noticed the way I wrote it can be kind of confusing.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Mordechai Ben Yosef


      Does this mean Judaism and Israeli nationalism(Zionism) are clearly different? Be careful, I hear there may be a law citing this as treason.

      Reply to Comment
    8. sh

      @Yidishkind – “If Israelis had a slightly different perspective, they’d be the ones insulted by these ads.”
      I wasn’t only insulted, I was humiliated. Jewish culture has withstood the test of time throughout adverse circumstances and Israeli culture, thanks in part to the defenses it maintains against its surroundings, still feeds off it more than vice-versa.

      @Yossi Gurvitz “…people who have left the soft Diaspora behind and joined Israelis in their increasingly bitter quest for revenge on history.”
      Devastatingly well-put.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Shoded Yam

      “…Many American Jews would be surprised how many Israelis hold them in contempt – unless, as Goldberg did, they do the Zionist thing, move over to Israel and pass our ritual of passage, service in the IDF. Those who do that are considered heroes”
      Puerile fucking nonsense. And Jeffrey was a prison guard for christ sake. Whatever else he is, Rambo he’s not. I actually did serve in a combat unit for 2 and a half years, in both Lebanon and the territories. Hero? No thats Baruch Marzel’s shtik. I was just doing a job and felt lucky if some one gave me a seat on a bus. Its about time American Jews understood the true nature of this relationship. The entire episode puts me in mind of a Churchillian anecdote;
      While serving as a subaltern in the Boer War, the young Churchill was asked by a superior officer to give his opinion of the Boers as soldiers.
      “They’re assholes, sir,” he ventured, then paused briefly and added, with a whimsical smile, “They’re assholes.”

      Reply to Comment
    10. Philos

      It’s a shame the took down the ads because the commentary by Israeli YouTube users was fantastic for the most part (except for the fascist haters obviously). The top rated comment on the “Abba” video said,
      “Is this supposed to encourage aliya or encourage yerida (emigration)? I see a nice house, with a garden and a car in a comfortable neighborhood with a little boy that says “daddy” and not a little ars that screams “Aaaabaaaaaaaaa!”

      Reply to Comment
    11. aristeides

      Mitchell – I don’t see how the ad with the couple, presumably married, says anything else. If you marry an American Jew, you might as well be marrying a goy. He’ll never understand what’s important to your Israeli soul.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Shoded Yam

      “… A.B. Yehoshua would hardly be a Netanyahu/Lieberman supporter. His views are more like those of this site…”
      Oh dear. The bullshit meter is in the red again. I really must have that looked at.
      While I’m sure that supposition gives you a hard-on Mitchell, it does nothing for me. 😛 A.B. Yehoshua much like his contemporaries, has been sensing his mortality of late, and in an effort to ensure (read whitewash) his legacy, has dabbled in revisionism, has allowed his political leanings to become “circumspect”, his opinions “evenhanded” for domestic consumption, while being “provocative” vis-a-vis the diaspora. And while not sharing the politics of many of his generation, he emanates from the same mileau culturally and demographically. Furthermore, by means of a few intemperate remarks to some rich, pampered American Jews, Mr.Yehoshua has made sure that his patriotic bonafides will not be questioned by other Israelis (as you’re so eager to demonstrate), as by utttering them in what can only be described as a very public setting (The GA Assembly), he intimated that when push-comes-to-shove, he can take his israeli exceptionalism out for a stroll and goose-step with the best of them. 😀

      Reply to Comment
    13. Al

      Very good piece!

      Reply to Comment
    14. Mitchell Cohen

      “Mitchell – I don’t see how the ad with the couple, presumably married, says anything else. If you marry an American Jew, you might as well be marrying a goy. He’ll never understand what’s important to your Israeli soul.” [End of Aristeides] Well, considering no small number of regulars on this site (including the one who wrote this column) separate “Jewishness” from “Israeliness”, I don’t see how THEY would be offended. On the contrary, these ads sympathize more with THEM, then they would with someone like ME. Yet, they are the ones having a field day with these ads, while I don’t see what the big fuss is all about. Go figure!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    15. Mitchell Cohen

      “While I’m sure that supposition gives you a hard-on Mitchell, it does nothing for me.” [End of Shoded Yam] Nope, does nothing for me either Sparky….I am not the one having a “hard on” by all these ads….

      Reply to Comment
    16. @shoded – I’ve warned you a few times recently on your language.
      One more strike, and you’re banned.

      Reply to Comment
    17. aristeides

      Mitchell – you did say that you’d condemn the ads if they were actually suggesting that Israeli Jews avoid marrying Americans. So I suppose you’d find that offensive.

      I think the ad is stupid, myself. Why can’t the wife just tell the husband what the significance of the day is?

      Reply to Comment
    18. Mitchell Cohen

      @Aristeides, I agree that the ad with the couple (Israeli wife/American husband) is not realistic. If the couple were close at all and had a minimum working marriage, the wife would have explained well in advance why she doesn’t want to go out that night and explain Yom HaZikaron to her husband, the significance of the day, etc. I didn’t get to see the one about Christmas (they must have taken it down over Shabbat), but I don’t find the “daddy, daddy, daddy, Abba” one offensive in the least, nor the one about dangers of assimilation. So you’ll have to sue me on the last two….:-)

      Reply to Comment
    19. Shoded Yam

      This comment has been deleted and the user banned

      Reply to Comment
    20. Mitchell Cohen

      @Shoded Yam, “Mitchy” how sweet. The last person who called me that was a girl I dated in high-school. She called me that out of affection. Aw, how sweet….:-) I have NO desire to alter any perception. I do NOT work for the absorption ministry or Netanyahu. Frankly, I don’t give a hoot. If you want to talk about “cleaning up” anything, I am not the one getting warnings about being banned for vulgar language, so it seems like you (not me) have what to worry about cleaning….

      Reply to Comment
    21. Stephen W.

      1. The same game was played with Russian Jews — they were brutally deprived of their rights to moving from the former USSR to any country but Israel.

      2. What do you want from the Zionist state of Israel which has nothing to do with Judaism? As an example, look at all sorts of fast conversion into Judaism in Israel — that explains all.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Bryan

      BS”D The Jewish people are defined by Torah since Sinai, NOT by their residence in medinas yisroel. Incendiary Zionist nationalistic propaganda such as that noted by the article is a sad attempt to create an identity out of violence. Such an identity is not Jewish. It is something else.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Ben Israel

      Stephen W-
      What are you talking about when you say “Russian Jews their rights to move to any country but Israel”? I am not aware of any “right” anyone has in the world to move to any county he wants. The US did have free immigration up to 1924 but no longer. The Russian Jews were FORTUNATE that Israel was open to them which allowed them to leave a country that has a long history of violent antisemitism.

      Reply to Comment
    24. nic

      Ok, so to everyone reading this, NORWEGIANS included. I say this as an Israeli who left Israel! Zionism is used a curse word. By many groups around the world. lets not “name” them.
      Anyway, although the things mentioned here do reflect in the bobble called Israel, but at the same time things are taken completely out of context. Zionism is mainly about the security and and freedom of Jews. People forget the causes for it. Stop quoting politicians who are long dead and represent a different area. Being free meant something to them back then. Maybe if it was not for the crazy on going Palestinian-Muslim hatred towards Israel also Israelis could let go from the “need” to survive. All this being said, don’t let a creep like Netanyahu determine your opinions about Israelies or Zionists! Most Zionist that I know are lefties, living in peace and best friends with Arabs.. so stop twisting things to make headlines

      Reply to Comment
    25. Liberty4all

      In 70AD, God divorced Israel after the flesh and married Israel after the Spirit. A Jew is one inwardly, not outwardly. The children of Promise, not after the flesh, but those who would have faith in Yeshua.

      Reply to Comment
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