Might COVID finally get us to have the conversation we’ve been avoiding for three quarters of a century?
If I my mother were at risk for a disease, would I take offense that I couldn't visit her? Would I even consider trying to ? Wouldn't a loving relationship make this a non-issue?
And Were we American Jews well-served by our self-appointed leader when he asserted so strongly that America was our only home? Shouldn't we have been encouraged to be as much with and in Israel as possible? Shouldn't he have acknowledged some more nuanced possibilities for the breadth of American Jewry? Weren't his remarks presumptuous? And dismissive?
Why stop at 70 years ago? When the Israelites left Egypt, 4/5 chose to stay behind, according to Rashi. And when King Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple 70 years after its first destruction, most chose to stay behind in Babylon. The American Jews were unfortunately following an ancient playbook!
Daniel. A wonderful and educating article about the history of early Israeli expectations of American Zionists. And, the rational as to why those expectations were not met. I’ve forwarded this article to my children as I feel it’s a wonderful piece for them to fully understand our current and past relationship with Israel. Many thanks.
I don't begrudge Israel choosing to ban visitors, even American Jews, during a global pandemic. I don't personally feel like I am being kept from Israel for any other reason than public safety. Israel is a sovereign country and can make decisions as it sees fit for the safety of its citizens. It is not an extension of the US or controlled in any way by American Jews, and to be honest, I think many American Jews forget this. If you want a vote and want to change Israel, make aliyah! Also, we Americans have no place to complain, when the US also banned visitors from countries in Africa and elsewhere when Omicron started spreading. Many countries banned visitors from other countries, so Israel was not alone in this policy. For example, Canada banned Americans for nearly two years!!
I appreciate your writing, Mr. Gordis, as it grants me a view into Israel that I won't get from my small vantage point in Colorado. I have never been to Israel, but I hope to visit as soon as it is open and ready for me. It is a lifelong dream of mine. I have waited 43 years... I will wait a bit longer.
I also don’t understand Daroffs complaint. Israel did not discriminate or differentiate between American visitors by their religion or any other criteria. Israel in fact banned all visitors while actually making exceptions for some depending on the circumstances.
It’s not as if the visitor ban was aimed at the American Jewish community. It was not. It was in fact aimed at all travelers originating from the USA.
Furthermore, the ban on visitors was not only aimed at the USA. It included tens of other countries including those which have sizable Jewish communities like Canada, the UK and South Africa.
While I agree regarding the Israel - US Diaspora schism, I don't understand Daroff's complaint. Israel banned visitors, not its citizens and residents from returning to Israel. We are talking about a pandemic that has claimed over 5m lives.
If Jews from the diaspora want to come to Israel during a pandemic, Aliyah is the right vehicle. A business or pleasure trip is no excuse to make a mountain out of a mole hill.