Israelis to American Jewry: Pssst…We Don't Like You
Members of the American Jewish Committee, who identify with Israel and care about its welfare, were astounded and offended to the depths of their souls this week when they heard author A.B. Yehoshua say he feels no sense of identification with them and their fate. Yehoshua’s “I have no brother” speech is doubtless harsh-sounding and infuriating to anyone for whom belonging to the Jewish collective means something. But rather than attack Yehoshua, those “good Jews” should direct complaints at themselves, for having done almost nothing to find out how they are perceived by their brethren in Israel.
Had the American Jewish Committee people displayed an interest in the intellectual discourse that has been taking place in Israel for some time, they would have known that Yehoshua’s words express a widespread and accepted way of thinking. They would have learned that prominent intellectuals in Israel view relations with them as a harmful anachronism that undermines the efforts of Israeli society to grant its non-Jewish citizens a sense of belonging. They would have discovered that the philosopher Menachem Brinker, for example, thinks the Arabs of Umm al-Fahm and Lod are part of his nation much more so than the Jews of Manhattan or Chicago – the connection with whom, in his eyes, is a thing of the past. They would perhaps have been surprised to know that journalist Yaron London views foreign workers who wish to settle in Israel more worthy than themselves to be considered members of his people, since those migrants, contrary to them, speak his language and share in his destiny.