11 thoughts on “Large Numbers of American & French Jews Make Aliyah

  1. Why is there no secular aliyah movement? What happened to livnot u’lehibanot ba? What happened to the moderation taught by Rav Kook (the first)?
    Where are these American Olim going? To beef up Israel’s so-called Silicon Wadi? To help spread the ideals of a Jeffersonian Constitutional Democracy to a country torn by religious-secular strife? Or will they be setting up more tents in far-out settlements, only to clash with their own army within a few years when the inevitable evacuations happen?
    These are real questions– I really don’t mean to be overly rhetorical. I’m jealous of those people with the resources, passion and chutzpah to pack up everything they know and seek to build a better Israel from within. I just hope we’re not celebrating the fact that American religious zealots bent on hijacking Israel’s democracy have just increased their strength by 400 or so.
    The truth is, folks, if some of you out there want to make a difference in Israel’s future– so that it is a country that reflects Jewish values like tolerance and peace (and I don’t mean at the expense of security) as well as one that is invested in the growth of the collective Jewish spirit, we must find a way to reinvigorate secular Jewish aliyah. When I say secular aliyah, I don’t mean that the Olim themselves must be secular, but that their motivation should be to improve life in Israel through labor, reason, spirituality and a dose of political practicality, not to convert the masses to fanaticism or grab land in God’s name that most of His chosen people want nothing to do with.

  2. Ronen, what leads you to believe that the people coming now aren’t motivated to improve life in Israel through labor, reason and spirituality, as you put it?

  3. Ronen, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought that Israel’s universities were one big missed opportunity. Most university Web sites have English translations, but then the course lists and program descriptions are in Hebrew only, the presumption being if you can’t understand, you’re not interested in the course.
    What if they turned this strategy and inside out and made it a goal to have 25% foreign student enrolment within a decade? It wouldn’t be that hard: a lot of the infrastructure is in place, like ulpans, Overseas Student type divisions, and so on. But imagine if they went after graduate students, even undergrads; ran admissions in a way that assumed 1 year of ulpan prior to the start of the programme; made available all information in English; and so on?
    Heck, they could even get creative. Extend the whole model to the professorial ranks, by matching every 10 professor posts, say, by a 2-year visiting professor post or something. Create English-language post-undergrad programs in stuff like computer science and other areas that humanities and social science grads eventually have the yen to learn — sort of like what the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliyah is apparently trying to do, but on a larger scale, and in public universities.
    My point is that, for the less-religious, university is one of those formative experiences in one’s life where people are willing to consider life-changing options, and be swayed in the direction of their genuine interests.

  4. Josh: I didn’t assume anything– note where I said that those questions are real, not rhetorical. I don’t know anything about the people on that airplane. What I do know, from Ezra’s pictures, is that they were greeted by my old friend Yishai, whose politics have changed (or maybe just become more prominent?) in a way that I find less than appealing– but I don’t know what they’re relation to him is.
    People coming to Israel in order to expand settlements and defend the land on the basis of it being our gift from God are acting counter to Israel’s best interests and counter to the best interests of the Jewish people. Period. Their labor is counterproductive, their “reason” is irrational and their spirituality is misdirected.
    8opus: Very cool ideas. I spent a semester at Hebrew U in J’lem, and it was great. However, a major problem was the lack of integration between American and Israeli students. I had an advantage, as my knowledge of the language afforded me the opportunity to take classes along with Israelis outside the foreign division, but overall the universities would really have to work on making foreign students feel like they are joining Israeli society. What’s the next step?

  5. Ronen, thanks for clearing that up. I doubt these people are being shipped off into the deep West Bank. I think people are starting to realize that we’re only going to keep the established towns near the green line, like Ma’ale Adumim.

  6. What’s the next step?
    I’m not sure, really. For right now, perhaps it’s taking this ball and running with it, and encouraging others to do the same. Write op-eds and letters to Jewish newspapers, and directly to universities; develop concrete proposals and air them; ask Israeli thinktanks what they have to say about the idea; etc. It’s a good question. Thoughts?

  7. Don’t kid yourself people,
    some/many of these olim are coming to yesha as well and welcome to all. If everyone believe the ‘consensus’ all the time, then Maaleh Adumim wouldn’t have over 30 000 people and a BK, and Ariel wouldn’t have about 20 000. If more people over the years hadn’t surrendered to the negative thoughts, there’d be at least twice the amount of Jews in Yesha.
    Aliyah is still a taboo subject in the states. When you can change that then people will think of coming. In the meantime, mostly religious people will come because they see the pointlessness to stay in the States.

  8. Not only is there an Aliyah Revolution taking hold among the idealistic Jewish youth of America but there is a faith revolution afoot in Israel that is being vigorously avoided by the media here.
    Many of those coming from North America are indeed moving to Judea, Samaria and yes, even Gaza.
    I don’t really see why a Jew who respects the faith and religions of everyone in the world should have such a closed mind toward those of his own faith who happen to believe God actually has a right to give us a piece of land as our own.
    This new ‘pragmatism’ coming from those who are too pragmatic to even live anywhere in Israel is laughable. Nobody thinks withdrawals will end this conflict, few really think the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza have done anything to even slightly suggest that any state built by them would not be the world’s terror-capital. The new pragmatism is basically an adoption of the Kach party line: seperation – the only difference is that the pragmatists feel it will be infinitely easier to expel Jews from the homes they were born in than it would be to do the same to Arabs.
    OK, back to the topic at hand.
    There IS a secular Aliyah movement, my friend – albeit in smaller numbers. Those friends of mine who claim to be secular and have what it takes to know that THIS is home are among the most idealistic and activist I’ve known. Check out Kumah.org for a great photo of one of the godfathers of the Aliyah movement today – Danny Farahan (now Ben David) – a self-avowed secular Jew who digs the Golan big time.
    Even some naive leftists are making Aliyah – and I love it.
    The point is, the game is being played out here in the Holy Land – no blog, no amount of money donated to the New Israel Fund or the ZOA or AIPAC is going to affect things here because facts on the ground are the name of the game on all sides.
    Come, be a fact on the ground. Say a blessing on your convictions by carrying them out here on this soil that drips with the convictions of your forefathers. That is what being a neo-Zionist is about.
    Seriously, what the hell are you guys doing in America? So lame.

  9. Ezra, I assume this response won’t affect you greatly– prove me wrong. You didn’t use my name in your post, but I sense you were respondig to my questions.
    I don’t really see why a Jew who respects the faith and religions of everyone in the world should have such a closed mind toward those of his own faith who happen to believe God actually has a right to give us a piece of land as our own.
    First of all, to insinuate that I, or really anyone who has left a comment here, does not respect Judaism is hurtful. Let me speak for myself and say that I am proud of our heritage, traditions and values. I am also a damn proud Zionist (you can ask Yishai).
    Now hear this: God has the right to do whatever He wants. Now the land is back in our hands after 2000 years and we have to figure how to use it to protect our rights and lives while advancing the common good. Would God really endorse a band of zealots jeopardizing the lives of other Jews (i.e. soldiers) and wasting the resources of a state still battling poverty, still not sending enough kids to higher education, and still not realizing its potential as an international high-tech leader all for the sake of some dirt? The truth is, that yes, we have this land. And yes, the Torah says its ours. We have already built an impressive society on it, but many settlers (no not all) are draining the state’s resources, blocking our desire to lead the world with moral clarity rather than religious ferver, and worst, giving the word “Zionist” an ugly name.
    The new pragmatism is basically an adoption of the Kach party line: seperation – the only difference is that the pragmatists feel it will be infinitely easier to expel Jews from the homes they were born in than it would be to do the same to Arabs.
    Kach is a racist organization, and I despise what they stand for. I know that many people would have to leave their homes if Yesha is ceded– nobody is looking the other way when it comes to the painfulness of that situation. But I have confidence that Israel will not turn its back on its citizens– they will be treated with respect and fairly compensated when they come home to rejoin the mainstream.
    This new ‘pragmatism’ coming from those who are too pragmatic to even live anywhere in Israel is laughable….
    Look, Jews outside Israel need to feel a sense of ownership with respect to Israel, or Zionism is dead. In my own personal case, my connections to Israel run deeper than time or distance can ever affect. But you’re right on one point– people in Israel especially need to take responsibility for their future. Is it a future faced with conflict or is there at least hope for peace? You seem to think conflict is inevitable– the Judaism I know teaches me to pursue peace. We have all the land we need for a vibrant Jewish democracy within the green line, so I say there’s room for conversation.
    Yes, there is a secular aliyah movement, and no, donations to American organizations do not have nearly as much of an impact as actually digging your hands into the soil. I wish more Jews would make aliyah too; esp those who love their state enough to want to strengthen, rather than hijack, its national values, its democracy and its progress.

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