Israel, Human Rights, and American Jewry:
New Roles in the Centuries-Old Struggle
In the protracted struggle within the United Nations for the securing of a Bill of Rights for all human beings, wherever they live, the Jews have been recognized as an interested party, and Jewish organizations accorded a special status. This was all done, however, before the Jewish state came into being. Will the emergence of Israel, which has brought such a fundamental change in the whole Jewish position and affected so many aspects of Jewish activity in the international field, likewise affect the Jewish attitude toward human rights?
The split of Jewry into Israeli citizens and Diaspora Jews is usually held to be a great turning point in contemporary Jewish history and one that requires an over-all readjustment. All the more surprising that the need for a new clarification is all but ignored in dealing with an issue that most deeply involves the traditional Jewish attitude to the fundamental problem of the relations between individual and state, that of human rights. Today the struggle must go forward in a new setting. For now, for the first time in modern history, a Jewish state has come into being; and henceforth the concept of state is no longer solely identified, as it used to be, with the “other” side—that side to which Jews, as citizens of preponderantly Gentile states, used to address their claims.
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