Monday, September 13, 2004
The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute
Ok, so I have been reading over parts of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute's (JPPPI) 2004 report, Between Thriving and Decline: The Jewish People 2004 [pdf file]. This is a side project of the Jewish Agency for Israel, with Dennis Ross at the helm. What disturbs me quite a bit about this report is it's stated aim to erase the distinctions between Israel as a state and the Jewish people worldwide as a group. Here are a few excerpts that I just couldn't stomach.
These efforts are imperative not only because of the inherent importance of Israel as a Jewish state, and the increasingly growing proportion of the Jewish people living there, but also because—unthinkable as it may be—if Israel should fall, the survival of the Jewish people is doubtful.[...]
Five policy directions illustrate the need for firm decisions and action [two of which are]:[...]
· Aliyah is not just a traditional Jewish commandment and Zionist value, but also continues to be an existential necessity. Therefore, even Jewish communities that are not in danger, especially the U.S., should be encouraged to participate in a pan-Jewish Mega Project that involves a large-scale movement to Israel. In addition, new modes of part-time residency in Israel should be developed, and steps should be taken to prevent any possible rifts in the communities from which aliyah takes place.
· Money that is given to Israel by Jews should be spent on ensuring the long-term future of the Jewish people rather than meeting current needs.
It is, first and foremost, Israel’s duty to take more seriously the ideal of being the core state of the Jewish people. This not only involves greater efforts in strengthening Jewish communities worldwide, but also means that during the decision-making process, the overall impact of any policy on Diaspora communities, and on the future of the Jewish people as a whole, should be seriously taken into account.It seems problematic to me to put the immediate needs and situations of millions of people, both Israeli citizens and Jews around the world, secondary to some vague notion of "Jewish survival." And I don't know about anybody else, but I find the inclusion of the term "pan-Jewish Mega Project" very disturbing. Not only does it play directly into the paranoias of classic anti-semitism, but who the hell wants to be part of some weird "Mega Project"? Put off your own needs and desires for the good of the Mega Project! No, thank you!
It may now be time to further institutionalize the value of Israel’s ambition to be the democratic state of the Jewish people as a whole, and not only of its citizens. To begin with, Israel should grant a formal consultative status to a global Jewish body—based on existing organizations such as the Jewish Agency and the World Jewish Congress—that would be involved in any Israeli decision-making processes that bear relevance to the Jewish people and their future.