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Let My People Go Up to Israel
There is a Jewish conspiracy at work. It is not the one portrayed in the pernicious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” It is not Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust hoax, or a Zionist plot to undermine Islam. Nor is it Jewish control of the media or the world economy as Jihadists, Ku Klux Klanners, neo-Nazi skinheads and Mel Gibson conjure up for themselves. It is not even the so-called apartheid security wall that so inflames Britain’s self-righteous, hypocritical, antisemitic academics and labor unions.
No, the only real Jewish conspiracy is the one aimed at undermining the future existence of Israel, and, consequently, the survival of the Jewish people worldwide. Iran, Holocaust deniers, the British left and all the rest of the mosquitoes carrying the antisemite bacillus are child’s play compared to this threat.
There is a Jewish conspiracy to prevent massive immigration of North American Jews to Israel.
The plot began when the word Zionism was hijacked by the professional Jewish and Israeli world and applied to every possible Jewish enterprise other than aliyah. Need a term for Jewish education in the Diaspora? Why not use Zionism? Need a word for patriotic Israeli spirit? Zionism. Need a word for Jews who contribute money, use Israel as a booster program for Jewish identity, or even just for tourism? Call all that Zionism, too. Nice, concise and misleading.
In a way exceeding the machinations of George Orwell, the word Zionism has morphed into newspeak to the point of losing its core meaning and providing an umbrella for any old thing that functionaries, bureaucrats, fundraisers and Jewish identity wonks can use to make a living. Having obfuscated the term’s meaning, the conspirators have set about suppressing the notion of aliyah.
What are the motivations? On the North American side it is simply to prevent the kinder from considering aliyah as an option and threatening the vitality of golden Diaspora. Birthright participants can see Israel as a museum, a Holocaust memorial, a refugee absorption center, the home of soldier-heroes and a catalyst for Jewish identity. They can meet generals, prime ministers and suffering Ethiopian immigrants.
But God forbid, don’t let them meet with people exactly like their parents who actually moved to and live in the real Israel, because they might get some ideas.
Israelis have preferred taking in American Jewish money over taking in large numbers of strong competitors laden with human and financial capital. The vested interests here are fully aware that many patterns of behavior would be very difficult to maintain if another half-million North American Jews made aliyah.
How would Moshe Safdie’s backward, environmentally unsound plan for developing West Jerusalem even emerge from committee? How would the Orthodox establishment hamstring conversion processes? How could politicians behave corruptly, impervious to notions of accountability? How could the education system continue to teach rote knowledge and base admission to university on psychometric puzzles, rather than on the skills of independent thinking, broad horizons and competent writing skills? How could the World Zionist Organization have its annual meeting and dream up all kinds of fatuous programs but not once mention aliyah?
Aliyah is the Occam’s Razor for so many problems, and yet it is the only solution not considered for any of them.
The Reform movement decries the conditions of its members in Israel? Send money, but sending more members, forget it. North American Jews have identity problems? Invest billions in convoluted educational programs that lead nowhere, but don’t give every American Jew a direct link to an actual cousin who lives in an actual Jewish state.
Jerusalem Day is conducted under the cloud of a lost Jewish majority in the city? Disenfranchise the Arabs of East Jerusalem, but don’t change the balance by actually getting more Jews here. Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and says it was an excuse to create Israel? Hold conferences, speak indignantly, give him attention he doesn’t deserve, but don’t disabuse him and make his claims irrelevant by proving that masses of Jews want to live in Israel by choice, and not only as refugees.
When the history of Zionism is written, it will become clear that post-Zionism started when the word “Zionism” became an instrument of this conspiracy.
Unless organizations dedicated to — and only to — aliyah garner the lion’s share of Jewish philanthropy in place of expenditures on Jewish identity fetishes and continued waving at post-Zionist windmills, these philanthropic efforts will fail every cost-effectiveness test one can imagine. Unless young Jewish minds in North America are exposed to the idea that aliyah is a realistic option that can ensure the future of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere, the next century will find the Ahmadinejads, Ismael Haniyehs and Ken Livingstones of the world wondering why they worked so hard when the Jewish conspiracy succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
And no one will be left to read the Book of Lamentations.
David Chinitz, a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health in Jerusalem, made aliyah from Washington in 1981.