On My Mind: Arnie Eisen

The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption Ads: Not a Misunderstanding

/10 Kislev 5772

Now that the Israeli government has wisely (but, so far, only partially) withdrawn from its website the videos meant to discourage Israelis from settling in America, marrying Americans (Jewish or Gentile), and ending up with children who can’t tell the difference between Hanukkah and Christmas, American Jews too should step back from the skirmish and coolly appraise just what the flap was about.

One thing it was not: a misunderstanding. For as long as there has been a modern Zionist movement, “negation of Diaspora” has been a leading theme in its ideological arsenal. It has never been enough for Zionists to proclaim the virtues of life in Israel. Rather, from Theodor Herzl onwards, theorists of Jewish national return have argued (at times with great cogency) that the only fate awaiting Jews in the golah was assimilation or anti-Semitism or a combination of both these evils. Golah was often translated not with the neutral term “Diaspora” but the pejorative term “exile.” Zionists, we might say, consistently sought both to “accentuate the positive” (Land and Statehood) and to “eliminate the negative” (exile and Diaspora), compensating for perceived weaknesses in the positive arguments for life in the Land of Israel with heightened emphasis on the negatives of life outside the Land.

A. B. Yehoshua carried on this tradition proudly several years ago when, addressing the 100th anniversary banquet of the American Jewish Committee, he told his hosts that of course the Diaspora they were celebrating has no future. Shimon Peres’s extraordinary new biography of David Ben-Gurion casually refers to the latter’s conviction that return to Zion would enable Jews to transcend their “long and sterile years of Diaspora” and enable a new Jewish worker to escape from the “spiritual poverty” of the old. The great historian Gershom Scholem, critical of Ben-Gurion on many counts, famously shared his belief that American Jews were self-deceived about our ability to avoid the tragic fate of previous exilic centers. Hillel Halkin’s book, Letters to an American Jewish Friend: A Zionist’s Polemic, eloquently made the same case in the 1970s, with special reference to the self-deceptions practiced at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

And now we have the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption—whose job it is to persuade Jews outside Israel to “go up” to the Land and to convince Israelis not to “go down” to the Diaspora or to remain there—not surprisingly drawing on this same tradition by summoning up the usual litany of horrors awaiting Jews in the Diaspora. One is still less surprised by the tactic when one recalls that the ministry is controlled by the secular, right-wing party of Israel’s foreign minister. Religious Zionists have to give Diaspora Jews credit for religious belief and practice, and can tout the religious virtues or commandments tied up with aliyah to Israel. Secular Zionists can do neither—and have historically been the most vociferous critics of Diaspora life. Consider the way things look from the point of view of the ads’ sponsors. “Bad enough to be born in America and put up with it, seduced by the material comforts, blind to the assimilation or worse that awaits you. But why give up ge’ulah (redemption) and settle in—settle for—galut (exile)? Why would any right-minded Israeli citizen want to do that?” The ads are meant to recall Israelis currently living in North America to their senses as well as their home country.

The question that surfaced in Israeli newspapers after the A. B. Yehoshua incident was whether he was wrong in his denunciation of the American Diaspora or simply impolite in stating the matter as and where he did. Israelis disagreed on this point. I think that the recent ad campaign raises this question anew—as well as a related issue: can there be Zionism without negation of Diaspora? And should there be?

Let’s face it: there is a lot of truth in the Zionist claim that Jewish life in the Diaspora is still plagued by the twin evils of anti-Semitism and assimilation. Anti-Semitism has resurfaced with a vengeance almost everywhere in the world in recent years, assisted by Muslim propaganda and left-wing attacks on the legitimacy of Israel. Assimilation is proceeding apace in North America, and the organized community has as yet found no way to arrest its spread. We can and should face up to these threats to Jewish life without flinching. It’s good to have Israelis remind us of facts we’d sometimes rather forget. We should do the same for them.

That’s why we should get out the word to Israelis and North American Jews alike that Jewish life in the United States and Canada can be rich, satisfying, joyful, and deeply meaningful; that Jewish communities on this continent are flourishing in numerous places and in numerous ways; that living as a partner to the age-old Sinai covenant in these most blessed of Diasporas is truly a gift—not least because Jews in North America also have the chance to participate in the amazing project of renewed Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. Jewish leaders on this side of the ocean have long tolerated with affection (if also with irritation) Israeli denunciations of our community and our convictions. We have made allowances for remarks that we would never accept from the leader of one Diaspora community speaking about another. We roll our eyes knowingly and think nothing of it when Israelis so totally ignorant of Judaism that they make fools of themselves when visiting a synagogue have no hesitation in lecturing us about what it means to be a Jew. And—most serious of all—we quietly forgive Israelis who live under constant threat of terrorist attacks, missiles, and (soon, perhaps) Iranian nukes for telling us how insecure the American Jewish future is.

I treasure honest conversation with Israelis; all of us can only benefit from greater partnership with Israelis in building various sorts of Jewish communities and revitalizing Jewish tradition in a whole host of ways. It would be great if we could use the occasion of the ad campaign to promote frank discussion between Israeli Jews and the American Jews who love them and their country in a spirit of constructive criticism, Jew to Jew, community to community. Let’s debate the virtues and liabilities of our disparate paths “for the sake of Heaven”—and we may well find that our disagreement draws us closer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP3gJN_YScM&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glQDf8vXvkQ&feature=related

38 Comments

  1. Rabbi David M. Glickman says:

    Chancellor Eisen,
    While I agree with you that this was not a misunderstanding, I disagree with your (and many others’) assessment of this heavy-handed campaign. This was a critique of an American Judaism that is potentially clueless of the emotional cost of citizenship (the Yizkor ad). However, it was not only critical of America and American Judaism. Implicitly, it was also critical of the secular Israeli identity which the ads say cannot survive the pressure of America (the removed Christmas ad, but also the “Abba/Daddy” ad).

    I strongly disagree with your statement: “That’s why we should get out the word to Israelis and North American Jews alike that Jewish life in the United States and Canada can be rich, satisfying, joyful, and deeply meaningful”

    While I strongly believe that America has been a strong force for redemption in history, and America’s Jews have great reasons to be grateful, there is nothing religiously superior about living the Land of America (as opposed to living in the Land of Israel). I want to create a robust American Judaism not because I want Jews to relocate to America, but because I want Judaism to thrive wherever Jews live.

    I would add, that some of the challenges that Israel faces with lack of religious pluralism is precisely because those of us in the liberal movements have historically been unsuccessful in articulating aliyah as a religious value. Therefore, our “brand” of Judaism is weak in the Israeli marketplace of ideas.

    Thank you for your thoughtful essay.

    Respectfully,

    Rabbi David M. Glickman
    Dallas, Texas

  2. David Lissy says:

    Really excellent — but you do not mention one important point that relates directly to another reason why this was an ill conceived campaign, and that is the many Israelis who experienced their first real Jewish connection and warm Jewish experience when exposed to our synagogue services and pluralistic communities in North America. Particularly for the shlichim who come here to work in our communities, this is a common theme in listening to them afterwards report on the experience.

    There can be legitimate debate about whether or how those of us who do not make aliyah can align ourselves as Zionists, but what is clear is that Israelis have a lot to learn from us about how to make the Jewish experience a special one.

  3. Tuvia Dovid says:

    On the religious side, let’s also remember that Disapora Jewry produced almost all the authoritative compendia of Jewish law — Talmud Bavli, Mishnah Torah and other works of Maimonides, Shulchan Aruch — as well as Rashi and the other principal commentators. On the secular side, political engagement by Jews in the West, especially the U.S., Canada, Britain and France, remains essential to preserve even that thread of outside support that remains essential for Israel to survive. Jews in Israel and the Disapora must come to know that each community is essential for the survival of the other.

  4. Benjamin Ravid says:

    Dear Arnie,

    Very nice indeed. How about reviving SimonRawidowicz and his “Babylon and Jerusalem”?

    All the best,

    Ben

  5. Susan Marx says:

    Very good. In the true spirit of Ahad HaAm. Israel is the center of the wheel and the Jewish communities around the world in the Diaspora are the spokes. The knowledge and the dialogue goes back and forth.

  6. Rachel Port says:

    Thank you.

    I have also been concerned about the feeling of being less because I live here.

    I discovered Judaism again as an adult, starting with one Christmas when a very perceptive friend gave me “My Name is Asher Lev.” It was not a rediscovery, although my mother kept kosher at home, lit candles for Shabbos and Yarzeits and holidays. It was a new thing for me to see it as something to learn about and study. Many years later, at my Bat Mitzvah, I felt I was standing at the bimah representing all the generations of women in my family who were not permitted to learn or read from Torah.

    And this is only one woman’s journey that happened largely because I am American.

    The diaspora has a long and great history in spite of the tragedies we have suffered. After all, the Babylonian Talmud which is the basis of Rabbinic Judaism was written in diaspora.

  7. Joe Schwartz says:

    Your thoughts, as always, are eloquent and subtle.

    But I seem to be alone in my bafflement with the American Jewish reaction to these ads. With the possible exception of the young man in the first ad (“Yom HaZikaron”), not a single American Jew appears in the ads. Their subject is not American Jewry, or the fate of Jews living in the golah: It’s yordim. The ads were part of an ongoing campaign aimed not at critiquing diaspora Jewry, or encouraging aliya, but at countering the growing trend of yerida, as more and more of Israel’s best and brightest are finding better, safer, more lucrative opportunities in hu”l — overwhelmingly in the U.S. The Israeli brain and talent drain is a real and very disturbing trend. Israel exports more PhDs per capita than any country in the world, and a huge proportion of its most talented (and progressive-minded) citizenry live abroad. Misrad HaKlita can’t very well deny that life is better, objectively, in the US for Yordim than Israel — after all, they’ve already voted with their feet. So the ads are instead aimed at Israeli yordim’s sense of identity and patriotism. None of this seems, to me, the least bit offensive, or ; indeed, it seems to me that stemming the tide of emigration should be a priority for all of us who want to see Israel a wealthy, liberal-minded, talent-rich society.

    I’m disturbed, and not a little embarrassed, that American Jews have so far not considered any of this. All we seem able to perceive is how we believe *we* were portrayed in the ads (and it’s not even clear the one American who appears is even meant to be Jewish). We ought not to be so thin skinned, and to consider the larger issues and forces at stake.

    • Arie says:

      Thank you for this comment. This sums up exactly how I responded to these ads as an American oleh.

    • debbie says:

      very interesting reply… at first (as i read you remarks) i was totally opposed… but by the time i got to the end i realized you have a very valid point… thank you for showing us something we didn’t at first see in this controversy (or at least i didn’t)

    • Hamza says:

      Always good to promote camp. Let me add aotehnr thought: Grandparents should think seriously about giving their grandkids a summer at camp gift for Chanukah. We have been doing that for years for our grandkids. We always give them a certificate entitling them to register for camp at a sessio of their own choosing. We did this for years for Jeremy (Swig.Newman), are still doing it for Adam who in 2011 will be a CIT (Newman) and have been doing it for Sarah and leah (Gindling Hilltop) since they were old enough to go to camp. It’s a bit expensive to send three or four kids to camp but worth every penny. It’s the best give we could give and that they could receive. It would be nice if the URJ camps developed Gift Certificates for grandparents to give. I have suggested it but received no response.

  8. Nechama Tamler says:

    did you hear that there is already an Israeli spoof on these ads? I will send you the link when I get it. Just last night, I was talking with someone about the significance of the ads and how they represent a flashpoint in the current (mis)understandings that fly back and forth between American Jews and Israelis. And, BTW,Israelis who live here, I am told, were equally outraged at the implications in these ads. One said to me today: I made a choice and the Israeli gov’t doesn’t respect it. They should tell me why I should want to return—it certainly isn’t so that my grandchildren will be Jews—I am learning so much more here about being a Jew than I did as an adult in Israel!!

  9. Steven M Cohen says:

    The imbroglio over these videos should not obscure some essential truths. One is that massive numbers of American Jewish people and families are indeed being lost to the Jewish People, both through cultural challenges and to the downstream impact of intermarriage, as it seems that less than 10% of the grandchildren of marriages between Jews and non-Jews identify as Jews. Second, the Israeli Jewish public is convinced that high levels of assimilation characterize American Jewry. Third, that perception is a matter of national pride among Israelis, one rooted very deeply in the classic Zionist ideology that undergird the Yishuv and then the State in its early days.

    There’s a flip side. American Jews are convinced that Israelis exhibit tendencies that are anti-democratic, super ethnocentric, excessively nationalistic, and borderline theocratic (some Israelis would agree). For their part, Israeli Jews take offense when American Jews give voice to their critique of Israeli society.

    In short, (many) Israeli Jews think American Jewry is excessively universalist and cosmopolitan. And (some) American Jews think that Israeli Jewish society is excessively particularist and parochial. A good and honest dialogue around these issues would be helpful and healthy. We Jews, despite our cultural penchant for discourse and disputation, haven’t quite figured out how to conduct that dialogue.

    Prof. Steven M. Cohen is Senior Counselor to the Chancellor of JTS

  10. Doug Greener says:

    The point is being missed here. The ads are excellent; well researched and perfectly targeting those issues which matter to Israelis residing abroad. The fact that American Jews see these ads as some kind of attack on Diaspora Jewish life reflects more on the insecurity of Diaspora Jews themselves, not on the message of the ads.

    I am reminded of an ad some years back by a clever marketer of olive oil. He announced that his olive oil was “100% cholesterol free” — a true but quite meaningless statement since all olive oil is 100% cholesterol free. The other producers of olive oil took that ad as a direct and false attack on them, by implying that their oils contained cholesterol. “No,” replied the clever marketer, “this has nothing to do with you. I’m just telling the public about my own oil. Any other message is strictly in your own imagination.”

    The Ministry of Absorption ads merely state self-evident truths: Sadly, the circumstances dramatized are clearly seen among many Israeli or semi-Israeli families living in the U.S. No one denies that this exists. Please stop seeing the ads as attacks on American Jewish life, or as “negating the Diaspora.”

  11. Moshe Rudin says:

    Really, Chancellor? We should be promoting the joys of this “most blessed diaspora” to Israel? What joys exactly? Of watching our community melt away under the powers of dissolution? Despite the heroic efforts of leaders such as yourself, there is only one conclusion to the ongoing decimation of assimilation and to say anything else is to obstruct the truth. Bavel and Yerushalayim and Achad Ha’Am aside- where is Bavel now, here in America?- The Zionist enterprise belongs to every Jew and it is all of our obligation to mitigate for Shivat Tzion, the Return to Zion and even more so for Israelis to remain and return. Wherever you fall in the debate between the Rambam and the Ramban as to whether Aliyah (immigration to Israel) is a Mitzvah or not, the wellbeing of Israel is the single strongest- one of the only perhaps- factor enabling young Jews to resist the siren call of loss of identity. A trip to Israel shows American Jews how Judaism works as a civilization. Camp Ramah is wonderful. USCJ Synagogues are great. Conservative Rabbis are dedicated, welcoming, knowledgeable and charismatic. And none of that matters- numbers don’t lie. Israel is our greatest shield and it is our obligation, if not to make Aliyah- I defer to Eli Wiesel’s statement which says, to paraphrase, that somehow we find ourselves living here and if that is so, so be it, let us work for this community’s continuity and flowering. But poet Yehuda HaLevi had it right: our hearts are in the east, even if we are enmeshed in the uttermost west. Israelis living here have helped strengthen our community immeasurably: but Yeridah- and the term Yeridah as in “descending” from Israel is not a Zionist invention but has deep roots in Jewish sources- is a vast problem for Israel. The campaign, which I confess to never having seen, was not meant for us American Jews but seems to have been withdrawn so as not to alienate us. That’s Israel’s decision but rather than criticizing it, we should be devoting our powers to the opposite: to encouraging Aliyah and strengthening our ties and support. If Judaism is a civilization that has always had two centers and one of these centers has always been Israel, it is surely meant to be a mutually nurturing dialectic. Does the ad campaign claim that the children of former Israelis will forget and lose their identity? Can you contest that this isn’t a true claim? I have seen it over and over and over. Rather than object to the truth, let’s work- really work- to change it.

    • debbie says:

      “What joys exactly?” you ask… the joys of being able to observe judaism in any way that speaks to us even if not orthodox and be born, marry, be buried and anything in between in non-orthodox rituals if we so choose without being threatened… and while we’re at it how about the joy of riding on a bus in the front if you’re a woman, or not being segregated as if we’re second class citizens in so many, many ways… if israel want the return of the yordim or more aliyah she ought to think about how to make the country not only jewish but pluralistic…

  12. Rich says:

    I am sure you will read this article from YNET:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4157907,00.html

    I think the author makes some very valid points which the Federations jumped on too quickly and so did you.
    I find the attack on the Israeli Ads- ridiculous. It actually exposes American Jewry’s Achilles Heel- and the Conservative Movement probably suffers from this the most. Recent articles confirm that more of your young Rabbis support J Street than AIPAC- are left wingers rather than mainstreamers. That’s why the Movement, consciously or not, is moving to be more like the Reform Movement than anything else. I have yet to see an Israeli denounce the American Jewish Community- but no doubt your Rabbis will spread that word that that is what they do. So now my synagogue is against Aliyah- as you have ridiculed it- as if going to Israel to fulfill the Zionist dream is anti-Conservative. Look at your own Movement- it is filled with many Jews who know nothing of Judaism too-if you are lucky they retain membership till they complete their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and then never return.

  13. Steve Axinn says:

    Leaving aside the obvious whiff of desparation, these ads touch a deeper problem. The Ministry of Immigrant absorption, sadly, saw only a zero-sum game (for Israel to win back its yor’dim, American Jews and their communities need to be trashed) and it took American organizational outrage to remind Bibi, et al., that Israel cannot afford overtly to deprecate the American diaspora. This sort of campaign stems from the old view that Israel commands the moral and religious high ground, just because it does. But the increasing numbers of yor’dim point to the fact that the religious establishment in Israel is failing in a critical mission which is, as it has always been, to transmit enduring Jewish values and traditions to new generations of Jews, whether they live in Jerusalem, the Upper West Side or anywhere in-between. When men like Avigdor Leiberman realize that we need to celebrate efforts to educate Jews and promote Jewish continuity in the diaspora, we will be on the way to fixing the problems in Israel as well.

  14. Jonathan Bernhard says:

    Given the lack of religious pluralism, perhaps it is fair to say that while Israel is the homeland of the Jews, the Diaspora – and in particular America – is the homeland of Judaisms.

    And this is no small contribution.

  15. Susan Schwirck says:

    I had a chance to read about the ads just before heading to synagogue on Shabbat. Coincidentally that morning new members, a young Israeli couple, was present to name their daughter. Both father and mother received aliyot to the Torah and there was much celebration as their new child was introduced to the synagogue community. Do you think, rather than becoming assimilated, this couple is participating in Judaism in a way that might not be readily available to them in Israel?

    Another point re immigration in general; whenever people voluntarily uproot themselves, give up their homeland and move to a strange place, we need to examine what is missing in the place they leave rather than lay blame on the place to which they go.

  16. Jerry Blaz says:

    This ad campaign had little to do with “shlilat hagolah.” It was aimed at “fallen” Israelis. With the loss of the grace of physical residence in Israel (or the territories), they will inevitably assimilate, marry “out” (because they are outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religion and its many black-hatted minions), and will end up with Christmas trees in their living rooms. It is the old case of the fear of the “sh’mad” that Tevye demonstrated by mourning for a daughter who married “out.” And in the golah, what else can an innocent Israeli expect?

    In other words, it is as if you and the Conservative movement did not exist. There is no Judaism in America, according to this ad campaign. The golah is only good for raising funds, acting as a lobby for the State of Israel, and so long as we agree with its policies.

  17. Rabbi Nason Goldstein says:

    Jewish life in Israel is threatened by the fusion of nationalism and extream right wing Judaism. Modern day Judaism in Israel is being overrun by the Haraydee. One has only to look at the Jewish extreamist influence in the Israel army. True, assimilation is challenge to our community. It is also a danger to Israel’s Jewish community. The best place for modern Judasim to flurish is not in Israel–it maybe in America.

  18. Howard says:

    American Jews have no reason to be disconcerted by misleading advertising. After all, demonizing opponents has become a popular and effective tool in Israeli politics as well as here in America. Let’s stop being defensive and instead loudly proclaim the extraordinary Jewish Community we are building in America. The Chancellor sees this campaign for what it is, the continuing attempt of extreme ‘religious’ elements to rewrite Judaism and to exclude those of us who accept modernity. Secular Israeli Jews, often more Israeli than Jewish, have been turned off by an outrageous power grab that has created a yawning chasm between the black hats and the secular majority. Many have left Israel because the ideal of Jews working together for the greater good has been ignored by a ‘religious’ extreme who choose eternal study and state subsidies over working for and defending the State of Israel. Amazingly, many Israelis have discovered Judaism in America where pluralism provides multiple choices for living Jewishly. We have nothing to be ashamed of, for it is we who both support the democratic State of Israel and accept the responsibility that each Jew has for the other. What we practice IS religious and we ARE authentic. We should be inviting all Jews to join our movement, for it is we who pursue meaningful lives guided by Jewish values. Conservative Jews choose to neither be insulated from modern life nor to be disrespectful of others who may disagree with us. We should recognize this misleading ad for what it is – a fear that pluralistic Judaism unites the Jewish People and removes the tyranny of an estranged rabbinate.

  19. Ben Fireman says:

    Chancellor Eisen’s insightful comment prompts me to inquire;
    Don’t you think that the continuing historical paradox of Zionism, even post Holocaust and 1948 is that it represents both a rejection of what heretofore constituted a Jew, all the while simultaneously positing a new Israeli/Jewish identity? Thus, the Ministry of Absorption Ads, Ben Gurion’s pragmatic/strategic usage of ‘sheleelut ha golah’, A. B. Yehoshua more recent AJC dinner denunciation of the sick American Diaspora ( read Pinsker). Yet the modern State of Israel stands as the positive affirmation-as opposed to the negative motivations of anti-Semitism & assimilation- and an essence of committed Am Jewish consciousness. The miracle of Jewish nation building, of material, cultural, intellectual, scientific accomplishment, underpinned and inspired by an evolving, still dialectical, spiritual actualization, ‘reshit smichat geulatanu’ (read Rav Kook) of the new Israeli/Jew population, be he feminist, secular, religious, left, right, centrist, Russian, post-Zionist ,’vatik’ and/or the new mixed multitude. Israel may well be one of the five most dangerous places in the world for a Jew to live, but can a new Israeli/Jew, army graduate, literate, college educated, (to whom we might not “ roll our eyes knowingly” despite his condescending ‘sheleelut ha golah’ attitude and lack of synagogue skills) be truly “ignorant of Judaism”?

    Certainly the ads I saw on Israeli television were creative, with more than a measure of sentiment, intrusion, bluntness, ‘hutzpa’, yet convey ‘ahavat yisrael’ .This style of concern seems to be a marker between American Jewish appropriateness, political correctness and tolerance verses Israeli/Jewish cultural brashness.

    Regarding Professor Steven M. Cohen’s “flip side”. I am aware that he is an expert on Orthodox American Jews, diminishing Am J political attachments to Israel across generational lines and numerous other areas of Am J social and religious life. My unscientific, but extensive family, business, personal and casual relationships with non-committed , non-Zionist, intermarried, institutionally unaffiliated, highly educated, minimal financial contributors to Jewish causes (as opposed to opera and art museums) American Jews in the age 40 and upward cohort seems to indicate a more positive perception of Israeli “tendencies”. Most of these folks ( an enormous & prosperous percentage of American Jewry) still maintain a heroic, old fashion Leon Uris image, of a struggling, democratic, US ally, underdog surrounded by antagonistic Arabs, homeland for persecuted Jews. These are anachronistic, but pro Israel views. Wishful thinking? Can they be measured apart from the general population?

    • Pauli says:

      Thanks for the comment. What do you mean by it is not an even anpyilg field ?Regarding naming the speakers in the video this is the first of a series of videos and the names will appear. It was an editorial decision not to place the names in this first video.Regarding the videography, that I defer to the expert who produced the video. It’s all a matter of taste.Regarding the message, we believe the message is loud and clear. It will further be developed in future videos as well.Thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback. We very much appreciate it.

  20. David Fisher says:

    We Jews have survived for years without being tied to a particular nation state. There are reasons for our survival. We were not all in one place. If part of our people were destroyed the rest would still be around. Israel wants to gather us in one place. Antisemitism if it didn’t kill us reminded us we were Jews. Israel shields us from that. Whether we were secular, reform, orthodox, whatever we could be a Jew on oyur own terms. Israel requires our rites of passage to be in the orthodox format whether we recognise that format or not. In the Diaspora we have rubbed against many cultures and have influenced and been influenced by them. Israel isolates us from the rest of the world. In my opinion we have survived because we were not attached to a particular nation state. When Burgundy disappeared so did the Burgundians. In my opinion the existence of a Jewish state is ultimately harmful to Jewish survival.

  21. jankel says:

    The time of Truth will come once the Land Jews inhabit in such ggood shape becomes to be the ennemy of israêl…or even only to have No Interest in Israêl….
    Then the “optimistic who remained in Warsaw” will regret something like “Pessimistics running to Israël” ..It will always be more difficult to destroy a Country with army and resisting population than a couple of millions of an UNWHEAPONED JEWiSH MINORITY….(moreover, in the USA, they are mostly Dems against NRA and Guns..!!!???)

  22. Mem says:

    “its website the videos meant to discourage Israelis from settling in America, marrying Americans (Jewish or Gentile), and ending up with children who can’t tell the difference between Hanukkah and Christmas”

    I think the chancellor is reading Jeffery Goldberg’s frame of this story and not the ‘pshat’ of what Misrad HaKlita says was the target. You are projecting your own 1990′s analysis on a 2010 problem.

    Look at who your children are becoming and we must all hold our breath to be more balanced in our criticisms. Let’s really be honest about how “rich, satisfying, joyful, and deeply meaningful” life is in your communities in the US vs. Israel.

  23. Pro-Israeli Jew says:

    This is just more of American Jews’ high-handed, imperialist treatment of their Israeli cousins.

    The ad was directed at Israeli yordim. American Jews should shut up and butt out.

    • Reniton says:

      The left-wing Jews are mostly slaceur. They have little interest in Judaism or in Israel. As they support denigration of individual dignity and devaluation of human life, and live in a selective reality, they can hardly be considered Jews at all. Oy, indeed.As with other left-wing ideologues, they need to reconsider their uncompromising positions, review the issues of merit, and accept the objective principals which should determine societal norms.

  24. I am an Israeli who immigrated to the US, lived there for 20yrs and lately returned to Israel. I am the prototypical target of these ads – not the Jews who live in America. I must say that the ads have hit home for me. I personally experienced a variation of the scenarios described in the ads with my kids.

    Unfortunately I was not fully aware of the potential consequences at the time. If there’s even one Israeli family who lives in the US that was impacted by the ads and took action – then the ads were worth it.

    To the American Jews who were “offended” by the ads I say – it is not about you. It is about the thousands of Israelis who comfortably live in America and are not concerned about how their kids are being brought up. Most of the Israelis I knew let their kids be educated by the American public schools.

    There are hardly any ‘Israeli Community Centers’ which take care of educating sons and daughters of Israelis about their country heritage and traditions.

    Unfortunately most Israelis abroad consider themselves secular and shy away from Jewish education centers. This is a result of Israelis denunciation of “religious institutions” – side effect of the extreme Jewish movements in Israel itself.

    So rather than having a debate about whether or not the ads “offended” American Jews, we should all be concerned about the future generations of Israeli Jews who are raised in America and are effectively set up for assimilation.

  25. [...] 13, 2012 by admin Original article:”The Ministry of Absorption Ads: Not a Misunderstanding” by Arnold Eisen, On My [...]

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