'Jews must stand unified, even if we're not a uniform people'

Hillel Int'l President Emeritus Infeld speaks about the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, and the importance of Jewish unity.

Yoni Kempinski,

Avraham Infeld
Avraham Infeld
Yoni Kempinski

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Hillel International President Emeritus Avraham Infeld spoke about the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, emphasizing that, in his opinion, the most important issue is Jewish unity and a sense of belonging.

"The message is that we have to recognize that in reality, it's not the job of the Jewish world to support Israel," Infeld said. "Israel was created in order to support the Jewish world. I can't think of a single Zionist leader who did not understand that the reason for creating a Jewish state was in order to ensure the continued significant renaissance of the Jewish people. That's what the whole thing's about. We've gotten it mixed up today. We think that the role of world Jewry is to support Israel. No, the role of world Jewry is to love the Israel that was created in order to support the Jewish people."

"The practical meaning is that I want them (world Jewry - ed.) to be ambassadors out of a sense of love, and a sense of belonging to the Jewish people. Therefore my educational message is: Israel makes no sense, if you don't feel yourself a part of the Jewish people. You want to be of greater support to Israel, strengthen your sense of belonging to the Jewish people."

Judaism, he says, is not a religion or a nationalism - it's about understanding that all Jews are one people, and need to remain unified.

"If you think Judaism's a religion, or you think Judaism's a nationalism, or you have any other crazy idea about Judaism, you're wrong," he declared. "You can't understand being Jewish if you don't understand that we're one people."

"We've gotta go out of our way to ensuring that we remain a unified people,even though we're not a uniform people."

Like in marriage, creating a sense of unity begins with speaking in terms of "we," not "us and them."

"We spend so much time talking about the other, when we should be talking about us, as a single unity," Infeld explained. "The pride in being a start-up nation, I deserve the credit for, because I'm a member of the Jewish people. That has been so lacking in the Israel-Diaspora dialogue."

"We criticize them for the way we see they understand being Jewish, they criticize us for the way we understand being Jewish. It's about time we stop talking about the little details of being Jewish, and establish the fact that we're one people."

Regarding those Israelis who leave Israel, Infeld said, "It's a fact of life. There are a million, there will be a million Israeli Jews living in America. There is no such thing in America as a third-generation Israeli. By the time they've reached third generation, they're either an American Jew, or just an American."

"I want to make sure that the largest number are going to be American Jews, and not just Americans.... I want them American Jews, at least."


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