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Eureka: How diaspora Jews feel about Israel
by Jay Gutman
2018-05-05 08:22:22
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Sometimes I read the press and I'm like, do the 8 million diaspora Jews all feel the same about Israel? Of course they don't. Natalie Portman is not a spokesperson for the diaspora Jews, nor can any Jew claim to be. So what's the general feeling and appreciation about the State of Israel when it comes to diaspora Jews? Here's quick view on how the different elements of the diaspora feel about Israel.

Before I get into this, you need to know that there are essentially five types of diaspora Jews, and of course I'm sketching. You have the Orthodox Jews, the Conservative Jews, the Secular Jews, the Atheist Jews and the Reform Jews. So I'll look at each group and their views on Israel.

diaspo001_400The Orthodox Jews: There are several Orthodox movements not not everyone feels the same about Israel. But Orthodox Jews in the diaspora tend to view Israel as a secular state with a lot of Jews in it and that is run by Jews. That is, a prevalent belief is that Israel is a secular state where religion does not play an important part and where the law does not always reflect the written and oral laws of Judaism. So a prevalent belief is that Israel is no different than France, Spain, Russia, Japan or Morocco, that it's just a state that happens to be run by Jews. A lot of them do get involved in the religious affairs of the state of Israel and there is solidarity between Orthodox Jewish communities in the diaspora and Israel. But a lot of Orthodox Jews for example do not feel the obligation to study or learn or speak modern Hebrew, because to them it's just another language like say, Arabic, Japanese or Russian.

The Conservative Jews: Again you couldn't say that all Conservative Jews have the same views on Israel, but a lot of them do follow closely what goes on in the country, politically, socially, religiously. Some of them go on frequent trips in Israel, others have family there, others think the existence of the State of Israel is important. Many Conservative Jews are comfortable in their country of residence, but feel that Israel is a necessity and that it's important for Jews to have a homeland. The problem with Conservative Jews is their children don't always grow up to be Conservative Jews as adults.

The Secular Jews: Unlike the Atheist Jews, Secular Jews tend to believe in God and tend to follow a lot of Jewish traditions, but unlike Conservative Jews they take liberties and don't always keep Kosher. Secular Jews tend to have a “live and let live” approach to life. While some of them follow closely what goes on in Israel, others don't really care. Some couldn't place Israel on a map, while others are confused about all the political mambo jumbo surrounding Israel. While a lot of Conservative Jews are active in Jewish organizations, some secular Jews might join religious organizations, while others will stay clear of religious organizations. Some are religiously more on the conservative side, while others aim for the conservative side, while others have a very liberal approach to religion.

The Atheist or Agnostic Jews: They tend to break away from anything religious, while some of them might celebrate a few holidays with their family. They rarely reflect on Judaism or the state of Israel, while some might support the state of Israel, others might have positions that are more in line with the Palestinian cause, while others just don't care about Israel. While Secular Jews might or might not marry Jews, Atheist Jews tend not to reflect on marrying within the tribe.

The Reform Jews: They believe in female rabbis, find ways to prove that bacon is Kosher and that the Sabbath is a resting day but you can do pretty much what you please on the Sabbath. Unlike Secular or Atheist Jews, they have some form of organized religion, they have rabbis and they have temples. Their views on Israel are as flexible as their views on the Sabbath or on keeping Kosher.

What has changed: a lot of Jewish organizations were once run by Conservative Jews and are now being run by Secular, Atheist or Reform Jews. Demographics have something to do with it, the proportion of Conservative Jews is decreasing while that of Secular, Atheist or Reform Jews is increasing. So organizations like the Hillel or the B'nai B'rith where members were once predominantly Conservative Jews (often young and hoping to meet a husband or a wife) are increasingly being run by Secular Jews, and the proportion of non-Jews in those organizations is also increasing (perhaps non-Jews hoping to meet fortunes of the likes of Jared Kushner.) So it's no surprise that policy and views on Israel are slowly shifting toward Marxist of leftist views on Israel.

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