Opinion: People’s homes, communities and lives make up their identities no less than the fact that they are Jewish

From Monsey to London, from Paris to Pittsburgh – Jews are a target.

Sometimes they are targets of ridicule on the subway or pushed and humiliated on a city street. Sometimes graffiti vandalizes their synagogues and shops. All too often they pay with their lives for being Jewish.

תיעוד מזירת הדקירות במונסי
Aftermath of Monsey Hanukkah stabbing attack


2019 was full of shocking anti-Semitism.

In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 cases of Jews targeted for being Jewish were reported.

The situation in Europe is no better and after years of laying low, anti-Semites are now holding their heads up high.

לונדון בית כנסת חנויות יהודים אנטישמיות
Anti-Semitic graffiti in London (Photo: MCT)


The primal fear that always resides inside each of us has been proven to be justified time and again.
Here in Israel, this dormant fear has been redirected towards a need for sovereignty, a strong military and a security agenda that trumps any other cause.

The People of Israel have returned to the Land of Israel and built a safe and expansive home, where they can be Jews without trepidation and in every sense of the word. Any other justification – ideological or otherwise – for the establishment of the state is but an afterthought.

So, when our brethren overseas are under threat, our instinct is to call them to make “aliya” (immigration to Israel) and join us here in the holy land, the only safe place for Jews.

Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Parisian Jews to make aliya after the 2015 terror attack on the kosher market that killed four Jews. He failed to understand why French members of the Jewish community were insulted by his words. What was so insulting in a call for Jews to come to Israel, as a solution to anti-Semitism?

Benjamin Netanyahu and other world leaders march against terror in Paris
Benjamin Netanyahu and other world leaders march against terror in Paris


Aliya is not a solution to anti-Semitism nor should it be.

It is the right of every Jew to exercise his or her Jewishness as an individual or a member of a community anywhere on the planet and it is Israel’s role to guarantee that right.

The moment we call on Jews who encounter violence to come to Israel we diminish their problems, refusing to acknowledge that in addition to being Jewish, they like us have roots and identities that are made up of their homes, full lives and communities – wherever they are.

The State of Israel is, in fact, an insurance policy for Jews everywhere, but that is only one part of its mission.

After more than 70 years of independence and already a cultural superpower in its own right, Israel must now step up and protect Jewish existence and the right to be Jewish in many diverse ways, anywhere in the world.

It is a mammoth task and a difficult one. It demands thought, engagement and a lot of diplomacy, but its importance is second to none.

The center of Jewish life has always been outside the borders of Israel. In biblical times it was in Transjordan, in Talmudic times it was in Babylon and after that, it was in any number of places in the Diaspora.

The dialogue between Israel and these centers of Judaism always created priceless rivers of knowledge and tradition.

Jews living outside Israel must know that we are here in times of trouble, and like any good family members, we will come to their aid.

We will not make secret coalitions with anti-Semites; we will not tolerate other types of racists just because they could be advantageous to us.

We would accept any Jewish person – no matter their stream of Judaism – as part of us, make them feel like they belong and know that we will stand in solidarity with them as they will with us.

In order to create a method of fearlessly fighting anti-Semitism, we must first recognize our strength.
No longer a persecuted people, we are a sovereign nation.

No longer scattered individual communities, we now have in place an organizational structure that encompasses all Jewish communities as if part of one extended family.

Nationhood, however, is a concept we have not yet mastered. Though Israelis are able to articulate their relationship with their fellow citizens – the various ethnic and religious groups who share our land – it is our overall responsibility to our people that vexes us.

What unites a follower of a Hassidic sect in the UK with a Reform Rabbi in California? What do those two have in common with the Jewish atheist in China? How are they all members of our family?
Anti-Semitism is one answer. Although true, it is a depressing answer.

We can create other answers, other points of contact and unity. And we should.

As reported by Ynetnews