Frequently, when strangers ask me why I moved to Israel from New York City, I
answer “family business.” This is entirely true – however, most people
become rightly confused during follow-up questions when I clarify that I have no
family, or business, in the country to speak of.
This, compounded by the
fact that I am secular and left a relatively plush lifestyle in one of the most
majestic cities in the world to live a meager material existence in a place
where I once didn’t know a soul, speak Hebrew or even have a job, almost always
leads them to question my sanity.
However, I am indeed here on family
business – and it is very much unfinished business, at that.
AS THEY once
said in the American West, what I came here for is an old-fashioned
It is a reckoning in the name of my family – and the six
million other innocent Jews who were mercilessly slaughtered for being born into
the “wrong” religion.
I made the relatively radical choice to come here
to join a fight and cause that will forever dwarf me, or anyone else living or
dead, because it was right for me. A fight that I am comically (or tragically,
depending on how you frame it) outnumbered in.
However, I have never
cared much for odds, nor cynical odds-makers, for that matter. I care about the
And I decided that I wanted to be at ground zero for this
one, and am acutely aware that it isn’t going to end anytime soon.
said, you may assume that because I chose to move here and forsake an otherwise
stable life in America that I somehow would look down on other Jews who choose
not to make the same sacrifice.
You would be wrong.
month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was correct to order the Immigrant
Absorption Ministry to cease and desist its harmful and ill-conceived
Diaspora-bashing ad campaign designed to pressure Israeli expats living in
America into going home, lest they be seen as lesser Jews.
reignited an ugly, age-old internal feud by attempting to convey the message
that the children and families of Israeli expats will not have Israeli
identities if they stay in the Diaspora – and that Diaspora Jews are somehow
inferior to Israeli ones.
The campaign even prompted the Jewish
Federation of North America and Anti- Defamation League to take the unusual step
of defensively issuing statements against the very country they are dedicated to
supporting, saying it was being “insulting” and “demeaning.”
WHILE I understand the well-meaning, if heavy-handed, intentions
behind this campaign, I respectfully disagree with it on a practical, emotional
and even spiritual level.
As an ardent Zionist – especially one who would
appear to have gone above and beyond the call of duty by leaving the comfortable
Diaspora he was born into to live in a borderline war zone – my sentiments may
However, first and foremost I am a pragmatist, and
recognize that what may be right for me is not right for everyone.
know that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
INDEED, I believe that
by myopically focusing on, and judging, Jews who decide to pursue lives outside
Israel, the ministry is missing the forest for the trees, and is weakening our
You see, this is very much a global struggle, and we simply
don’t have the luxury of alienating or marginalizing Jews anywhere in the world
who love Israel as much as those who live within its limited borders.
By divvying out more copious amounts of “Jewish guilt” to those who already feel
guilty of the “crime” of living their lives far away from Israel, all we are
doing is exacerbating the problem.
MORE OFTEN than not, I have found that
there is little corollary between where a Jew lives and his or her love for and
allegiance to Israel, and to assume otherwise is a dangerous
The concepts of geographical preference and love of
country must finally be recognized as being mutually exclusive and damaging to
our global struggle, which far exceeds the borders of Israel
Tactically, to suggest otherwise is foolish at best, and deadly
We need every Jewish soldier in this war on every continent of
the globe to carry his or her weight by defending our right to exist, and
support this great, vilified and outnumbered nation.
Indeed, we need to
continue to recruit several thousand good men and women from every corner of the
planet to refute the patent lies and absurd double standards Israel is routinely
To think we can do all the heavy lifting from our small
speck on the map in the Middle East is impractical and
Near or far, we are in this war together, and to devalue
those who choose to fight from a different location is a tremendous mistake on
AS I wrote several weeks ago in “The Art of the
Intellectual War,” Israel’s existential crisis is very much a global one, and we
need capable soldiers wherever there is anti-Semitism, which, unfortunately, is
everywhere. This is not the time to mitigate the value of soldiers who
live in the Diaspora – and are very much needed there.
EVEN THOUGH I
decided to come here to be at the epicenter of this war to manage my “family
business,” I am no better than any other Jew in the Diaspora who is taking up
this cause far away, where they are needed equally.
By disrespecting Jews
who choose not to live here and adopting a holier-than-thou stance in an already
deeply fractured society, we are only weakening ourselves and our
This reckoning is not going to end any time soon, and we need all
hands on deck, near and far, to do what they can.
Indeed, we must fight