Supporter waves flag at pro-Israel rally in Honduras.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I am a wandering Jew, born and raised in New York City and finally settling down
in Hawaii. I am as far removed from Israel as you can geographically get. And
yet, every day I read the news from Israel, since I realize that whatever
happens to the Jewish state will have an impact on Jews everywhere.
course, this is not fair to the Jews living around the globe. Israel is a
nation, run by people with certain ideologies and political interests. It has
been set up as the Jewish state, but for Jews living elsewhere it is not our
It may be that, as Jews, united we stand and divided we fall. But
why is Israel the only conception of united Jewry? Why must Jews everywhere be
held accountable for what the nation of Israel does? What a burden this must
place on the people who run the State of Israel. Any errors of judgment by
Israeli politicians can not only harm Israel, but can also threaten the lives of
millions of Jews outside of Israel.
It seems grossly unfair that Israeli
politics shapes the lives of Jews everywhere. Israel effectively has a monopoly
on defining and defending the Jewish people. While Zionists claim that this is
better for the Jewish people than being at the mercy of non-Jewish governments,
there is the implicit assumption that the people who run Israel are always going
to do right by the Jewish people.
Personally, I don’t put my faith in
people, Jewish or otherwise. People are imperfect, including
While it is true that the policies of Israel will reflect on
non-Israeli Jews, the question should be asked whether it is wise to give a
monopoly to Israel as the representative of the Jewish people.
there be more than one Jewish state? Given the diversity of the Jewish people,
more than one state would make sense. The Jewish people, after all, come from
all around the world. As a people we are comprised of all races and
nationalities. We even have different belief systems, ranging from Hassidic to
Orthodox to Reform to atheist to Jews for Jesus. How can one state represent the
wide range of people who are defined as “Jews”? If there were more than one
Jewish state, there would be competition by each government to provide the best
lives for its people.
One state could be liberal, the other
One state could be secular, the other more religious. For a
people as diverse as the Jewish people, a multiple-state solution seems more
appropriate than the one-size-fits- all-Jews State of Israel.
importantly, this division would spare the rest of the world’s Jews of having to
suffer for the failed policies of any one Jewish state. The burden of failure
would fall on the failing government, and not on the Jewish people as a whole.
Diaspora Jews would not feel at the mercy of one nation’s
Unfortunately, this idea of multiple Jewish states will not sit
well with the rest of the world. The new state would have to be created
somewhere, and the non-Jewish people who may be living there will probably not
like their land being taken over by another culture.
Israel lays claim to
its land based on an historic association with that part of the planet. Unless
Israel is willing to divide itself into two Jewish states, it is unlikely that
the world will find a place for another one.
So it looks like we are
stuck with Israel and its polemical politics and often irrational ways. Unless
we wish to assimilate and lose our Jewish identity altogether, Israel will
continue to represent diaspora Jews.
It’s not fair to be judged by the
actions of others. It’s not fair that non-Israeli Jews are defined by Israel.
But if the world were fair, would we need Israel? The writer is a medical
anthropologist and director of the Good Shepherd Foundation in Pahoa, Hawaii.