In Aliyah, Quantity is Quality

The first misconception here is that the Diaspora communities are "politically, economically and culturally strong."

Yishai Fleisher,

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Recently, the Jerusalem Post printed an article titled "Quality, Not Quantity, Aliya" (July 25, 2004). In it, the writer, Yosef Goell, a former political scientist, claimed that while "the last thing in the world we should want is to concentrate all Jews into tiny Israel," he still believes that "we should very much want to pick the cream of the world's Jewish crop for ourselves."

Selection of Jews. That is what this educator thinks is good policy for Israel.

Yet, aside from this blatantly bigoted statement, the author Yosef Goell says many things regarding the issues of the Jewish Diaspora and Aliyah that one hears regularly.

Goell states, "In a hostile world, politically, economically and culturally, strong Diaspora communities such as in North America are essential for strengthening Israel's diplomatic and economic position."

The first misconception here is that the Diaspora communities are "politically, economically and culturally strong."

Are French Jews politically strong? They are being bombarded by murderous anti-Semitism and are essentially banned from wearing yarmulkes in public. Are US Jews strong? In the United States, seventy percent of non-observant Jews are succumbing to intermarriage, while the whole of American Jewry is aging rapidly, with a birthrate that is below the regeneration minimum. Today's Diaspora Jewry is in dire straits.

The second misconception is that Israel needs a strong Diaspora to survive.

Economically, Israel, the world's 19th largest economy, would do better not taking Uncle Sam's allowance. Like a grown up still living in his parents' home, Israel needs to be weaned off US money if it is ever to have the self-respect of a grown-up nation.

Politically, a Jewish lobby is not the only reason that the US supports Israel. The US shares many values and goals with Israel, such as a free society and fighting terror. A strong Diaspora is not what will keep the US voting with Israel, rather, a strong and healthy Israel will draw the admiration and respect of other nations.

Culturally, Israel is the center of the Jewish universe. It is no coincidence that Birthright, the now-famous free trip, flies to Israel, not to Brooklyn or the Lower East Side, to show young people what Judaism is. The State of Israel has become the center of the Jewish collective focus. Every Jewish newspaper across the US plasters pictures of Israel on its front cover, not some local Jewish issue. Israel is where Judaism is happening, all other places are merely satellites.

The strength of the State of Israel protects all Jews of the Diaspora, not the other way around. Israel's long-arm thwarts violence against Jews worldwide. The truth is that Israel does not need a strong Diaspora to survive, but rather the Diaspora depends on a strong Israel to survive - both physically and culturally.

Goell continues, "We are similar to other Diaspora peoples like the Greeks, Armenians and Scots, in their relations between their far-flung Diaspora and home countries."

Unlike the "Greeks, Armenians and Scots," we, Jewish people, have been pining for our homeland for the last two-thousand years, and while other nations respect their homelands, their expatriates seem to be in no rush to go back to Greece, Armenia and Scotland. Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, millions of Jews have immigrated to Israel, and soon the majority of the Jewish people will live, once again, in Israel. The arrival of almost two thousand American Jewish immigrants and hundreds of French ones this summer attests to the fact that the Aliyah revolution continues.

Finally Goell writes, "But let's stop for a moment and try to imagine the implications of squeezing an additional seven to eight million cantankerous, contentious Jews into this tiny country. Life in the buzzing beehive of Israel would be hell," and "[the] last thing in the world we should want is to concentrate all Jews into tiny Israel, cramming everything into one basket."

First of all Israel is not "tiny." New Jersey is about the size of Israel and has 13 million people in it and still has massive tracts of open land. Israel has plenty of room for seven to eight million Jews. From the Galilee, to the Negev, from the Jordan Valley to the mountains of Jerusalem, Israel has tons of space to accommodate all the Jews of the world.

Second, nothing could be happier than "bringing an additional seven to eight million" Jews into Israel.

In our daily prayers we say, "Our Father in Heaven, do kindness with us for the sake of Your great Name that has been proclaimed upon us. Fulfill for us, Hashem our G-d, what is written: 'At that time I will bring you and at that time I will gather you in, for I will set you up for renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I bring back your captivity, before your own eyes,' said Hashem." We also say, "Blessed are you, Hashem, Who gathers in the dispersed of His people of Israel." And we also say, "Blessed are You, Hashem, Who gladdens Zion with her children."

We have been praying to G-d for two thousand years to reunite us in the Land of Israel. It will not be "hell" to have all the world's Jews in the Land of Israel, and we need not be afraid of having all our eggs in "one basket." G-d has promised to set us up "for renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth" when we are reunited in Israel. Indeed, life here will be like a "beehive" because Israel is the "land of milk and honey", and bees work nicely together to create their home.

When talking about Aliyah, quantity is quality, because every Jew is special and important. The "cream of the crop" of the Jewish people is the Jewish people. Today, we should be advocating Aliyah for all the Jewish people and putting it atop our political agenda. Aliyah is the answer to the Arab demographic onslaught, and it will save Jews in the Galut from assimilation and anti-Semitism. Most of all, our destiny calls for all the Jewish people to return to the Land of Israel, so let us work to make this vision a reality today.