American Judaism: ZOA Blueprint:
Are We to be Israel's Colony Culturally?
The recent convention of the Zionist Organization of America, coming less than two months after the birth of the Republic of Israel, felt itself obliged to consider seriously the relations between American Jews and the new state. Emanuel Neumann, president of the Zionist Organization, repeatedly gave assurance that American Jews would not interfere in Israel’s sovereignty, not only because it is solely Israel’s prerogative, but also because Jews as American citizens cannot have dual allegiances. Yet on the other hand, Dr. Neumann went on to say that the position of Jews, outside Israel, was still anomalous (“The basic anomaly of the Jews has been ended, but not completely—ninety-three per cent are still in the Diaspora”); and he, and others, did not hesitate to refer to the rest of the world, specifically including the United States, as Galut, the Exile, Diaspora. In this, he was echoing the traditional Zionist viewpoint, which regards countries other than Palestine as inevitably and permanently second-class countries for Jews, and Jews fated forever to be second-class citizens and alienated residents therein.
Dr. Neumann is not one to use words with rhetorical abandon. But other delegates, in less guarded moments, expressed the full and consistent logic of such a view. The director of the Jewish National Fund had said, “Zionism came to give us status and dignity”; a young rabbi from the Far West asserted at a session of the Committee on Education, without meeting challenge or protest, something like the following: “I was born in Palestine; the Jews of Palestine have status and dignity; the Jews of the Galut have no status and no dignity.” And at a banquet in honor of Dr. Silver, a prominent Zionist, whose remarks were praised lavishly by Dr. Neumann, explained—once again without meeting protest and challenge—that “because of the long exile, our parents and grandparents perhaps degenerated into a state of mental and spiritual impotence,” and therefore were incapable (unlike Dr. Silver) of transforming the Messianic dream of national redemption into actual deed.
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