Undoubtedly many among us are unaware than Jews in Christendom were serfs (slaves) as recently as 150 years ago. We were legally emancipated in mid-19th century and that only reluctantly. Opposition across the West was immediate and widespread and resulted in massive pogroms from Austria-Hungary to Scandinavia in the north, France to the south. Pogroms were soon followed by the rise of antisemitic political parties intent on limiting Jewish rights and, soon after, would seek instead to solve the West’s Jewish Problem.

Pinsker, Herzl and others, at first embracing political emancipation quickly realized that centuries during which Jews were not only considered alien but enemy: Jewish Otherness was too deeply ingrained in Western culture and tradition to be overcome by legal fiat. It was clear that the Jewish People needed a homeland, a refuge from antisemitism which, they only reluctantly accepted, was a permanent condition of Western society. And so was born Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish People. Diaspora Jewry mobilized to create and build that Jewish homeland, refuge to the Diaspora.

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The Holocaust has taken on a somewhat legendary identity in Jewish culture. But it was not the “exception” as many of us would wish. Certainly events across Europe and the United States are sufficient warning?


Israel was never meant to be just one more nation-state, another “western democracy.” For Israel’s present government to forsake its responsibility to our people as illustrated in the ever-resurfacing issues of universal access to the Kotel and support for such regressive legislation as the Rabbinate’s decades-long pursuit of Who is a Jew: this is a denial of Israel’s mission, its betrayal of the Diaspora to which it owes its very existence and that, even hurt by the insults, supports it still.

And worse, the Government of the State of the Jews is seen as and is, abandoning the Diaspora to it to fate!
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