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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 07:42 PM
Original message
Are Jews better off in Israel?
By Spengler

Israel's immigration ministry stopped running television ads exhorting Israelis living in America to come home after American Jewish organizations complained, the New York Times reported December 2:

One video advertisement shows a Jewish elderly couple distraught that their Israeli granddaughter in the United States thinks Hanukkah is Christmas. Another shows a clueless American boyfriend who does not get why his Israeli expatriate girlfriend is saddened on Israel's memorial day. A third shows a toddler calling "Daddy! Daddy!" to his napping Israeli expatriate father, who finally awakens when the child switches to Hebrew: "Abba!"


"While we recognize the motivations behind the ad campaign," the Jewish Federations remonstrated in a December 1 statement, "we are strongly opposed to the messaging that American Jews do not understand Israel. We share the concerns many of you have expressed that this outrageous and insulting message could harm the Israel-Diaspora relationship." The Jewish organizations complained after a liberal blogger, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic Monthly, denounced the ads.

The message that Jewish life in America is deficient is "outrageous" and "insulting", to be sure, but it has a single redeeming quality, namely truth. The vehemence of the official Jewish response to the Israeli advertisements betrays a guilty conscience: Jewish life in America is dying, as the same Jewish organizations warn in ever-gloomier studies of Jewish demographics. It seems inconsistent of the Jewish organizations to bewail the inexorable decline of American Jewish life on one hand, and condemn the Israelis for pointing to their manifest achievements in sustaining Jewish life.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ML06Ak01.html

Don't usually post Spengler, making an exception.
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zbdent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. If you listen to Republicans ...
Wouldn't they be better off here in America?

I mean, if the Republicans are "correct", the U.S. is the greatest country on Earth, why would anybody want to live anywhere else?
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. It's one thing to call for a renewal of Jewish spirituality and culture in the U.S.
Edited on Mon Dec-05-11 08:26 PM by Ken Burch
(that's one of the things Michael Lerner has devoted himself to, for example).

It's quite another to say that such a renewal is impossible and that the ONLY way to be Jewish is to move to Israel.

In the first, there's a legitimate argument for reviving a several forms of faith and culture, which is something that could fairly be called for in ANY religion.

In the second, there's an attempt to coerce millions of people to move to a country they don't currently wish to live in(and, probably more importantly, to force those people to silence any dissent they may be feeling about the policies of the government of that country). This is never a legitimate thing to do...it isn't a good thing to give any government anywhere an exemption from accountability, since doing that only makes the government that's granted such an exemption become more reckless and more arrogant.

Also, why SHOULD every Jewish person in the world move to Israel, when doing that would give the antisemites what they really want...a planet that is otherwise totally Judenrein? How could anybody think this would be a good thing, for the world's Jewish communities OR for anyone else.

We should all want THIS country to have strong Jewish communities along with strong communities representing every OTHER religious and cultural tradition the world has to offer. I want everybody to grow up knowing all sorts of people and understanding all sorts of cultures, faiths, races, whatever. Only by having a country and a world like that can we ever actually defeat any forms of bigotry. And we need as many countries as possible to be like that. Multiculturalism is the only hope for a hatred-free world, not the kind of voluntary separatist self-ghettoization that the current Israeli government is so stupidly pushing for.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. In order:
It's quite another to say that such a renewal is impossible and that the ONLY way to be Jewish is to move to Israel.

I think his argument is more along the line that "Jewishness" which is not related to some practice lacks content and tends to die out from generation to generation, which I think is accurate. He considers that a bad thing. I have mixed feelings, don't really know how to sort them out.

In the first, there's a legitimate argument for reviving a several forms of faith and culture, which is something that could fairly be called for in ANY religion.

I quite agree, but I have trouble with the notion that people ought to be coerced into it, the question of how much of that sort of coercion ought to be allowed in a society that purports to be free.

In the second, there's an attempt to coerce millions of people to move to a country they don't currently wish to live in(and, probably more importantly, to force those people to silence any dissent they may be feeling about the policies of the government of that country). This is never a legitimate thing to do...it isn't a good thing to give any government anywhere an exemption from accountability, since doing that only makes the government that's granted such an exemption become more reckless and more arrogant.

See, I'm OK with that, it's the coercion that bothers me.

Also, why SHOULD every Jewish person in the world move to Israel, when doing that would give the antisemites what they really want...a planet that is otherwise totally Judenrein? How could anybody think this would be a good thing, for the world's Jewish communities OR for anyone else.

I quite agree. It is very dubious to think that being all collected together in one small place make you safer too. But I think what really drives this whole issue is the demographic trends. That's why I posted it, I was interested in the demographic information he had. I don't consider him a good source, but demographic information is hard to come by, or gets little attention, and I think it's really a fundamental issue.

We should all want THIS country to have strong Jewish communities along with strong communities representing every OTHER religious and cultural tradition the world has to offer. I want everybody to grow up knowing all sorts of people and understanding all sorts of cultures, faiths, races, whatever. Only by having a country and a world like that can we ever actually defeat any forms of bigotry. And we need as many countries as possible to be like that. Multiculturalism is the only hope for a hatred-free world, not the kind of voluntary separatist self-ghettoization that the current Israeli government is so stupidly pushing for.

I'll stay out of that one. Although I have to say its one of the things I really like about LA.
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TomClash Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:25 PM
Response to Original message
3. Jewish life is dying?
Not where I live.
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Glad to hear that.
I'm sure that's the case in many other places in this country and in other countries.
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demosincebirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:45 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Wishful thinking.
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. How can you be sure?
Are you really going to argue that Judaism is ONLY vibrant in Israel itself?

That's kind of derogatory to the majority of the world's Jewish population that DOESN'T live there.

Why say that THEY don't count?

It's not like any good would come of massive Jewish immigration to Israel anyway. It wouldn't be good for the immigrants and it wouldn't likely be good for Israel itself.
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demosincebirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #7
27. Judaism is alive in almost every country
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 09:42 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. As it should be.
May it continue to be so.
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shaayecanaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:36 PM
Response to Original message
6. Really, this is fundamentally inaccurate...
given that the orthodox Jews are doing quite well. If anything it marks the death of "secular Judaism" - in itself a rather tenuous concept - rather than Judaism per se.

To the extent that there was anything substantial underpinning secular Judaism, it generally boiled down to commemoration of the holocaust. Compelling perhaps but not enough to really unite a community in the way that having a common language or religion does.
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. That's a pretty sweeping and vicious statement you're making there.
Normally I consider you quite a reasonable person, but that post sounds like something Avigdor Lieberman or one of the crazier settler groups might say.

I've known a lot of people who identified as "secular Jews" and they were just as secure in and committed to THEIR Jewish identity as anybody who identified as being religious.

And secular Judaism has MANY substantial underpinnings...a sense of solidarity with each other and with all oppressed peoples, a rigorous commitment to intellectual advancement, a deep personal commitment to compassion and social justice. Are you really going to dismiss all of THAT?

Besides which, Zionism was a secular Jewish movement for most of its history...so why denigrate the identity of the founders of Zionism?

And it's not even as if it's ONLY the secular Jewish contingent that has questioned Israeli security policies and its treatment of the Palestinians. A lot of those who identify as religious have done the same(and a lot of the secular ones, as far as that goes, have defended Bibi & his associates).



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shaayecanaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 12:45 AM
Response to Reply #8
14. I've known lapsed Irish Catholics that still wave the flag on St Paddy's day
and know one or two Irish rebel songs. What does it boil down to? Remembering the potato blight, Oliver Cromwell and believing in a united Ireland, for the most part. Not enough to really sustain a community spirit. The fact is that lapsed Catholicism, or secular Judaism, are really only concepts that can exist in opposition to actual, practising Catholicism or Judaism, respectively, without which they are really nonsensical concepts.

"And secular Judaism has MANY substantial underpinnings...a sense of solidarity with each other and with all oppressed peoples, a rigorous commitment to intellectual advancement, a deep personal commitment to compassion and social justice."

Tosh. The CEO of Goldman Sachs is a secular Jew. I can see him signing up to the intellectual advancement part but I'm not sure he gives a fig about social justice.

I am a lapsed Lebanese Catholic, myself - a Maronite. I identify as such largely as a consequence of Lebanese society which views religion largely as an affiliation rather than a statement of belief - I would hazard to guess that religious attendance is probably lower in Lebanon than anywhere else in the middle east.

I suppose fratricidal violence is one way to sustain community identity - pretty much the only place in Europe where people still identify primarily as Protestants is Northern Ireland. I wouldn't recommend it though.

Other than that, I think that a common language or a common religion are needed to sustain a community. I suppose you have African Americans, whose identity remains strong even in the absence of a particular language or religion, but I imagine that racism plays a large part there.





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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:18 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Yep. The Orthodox seem to be doing fine.
Also see post #10.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:02 AM
Response to Reply #6
15. Deeply insulting and shamefully ignorant
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 01:02 AM by oberliner
That you can write:

"To the extent that there was anything substantial underpinning secular Judaism, it generally boiled down to commemoration of the holocaust."

And mean it in earnest is truly loathsome and somewhat startling.

I guess though that is provides some insight into your perspective and sheds a good deal of light on where you are coming from with respect to many of the discussions here.
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shaayecanaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #15
24. The proof is in the pudding...
surveys have shown that amongst secular Jews, commemoration of the holocaust is the most important aspect of their identity, whilst other aspects such as Israel, keeping kosher, etc, come quite a long way behind:-

eg

Among the findings in the American Jewish Committees
1999 survey of American Jewish opinion, it was discovered that 98 percent of
respondents said "remembering the Holocaust" was "important"
to their identity, while only 15 percent said the same of religious observance.


Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, humanities professor at New York
University, said that he "deplored" the survey results. Pamela Nadell,
director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University, said of the stress
on the Holocaust that, "I dont think its healthy. Jews cant
hang their identity on that forever."



http://www.acjna.org/acjna/articles_detail.aspx?id=120
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angstlessk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 10:47 PM
Response to Original message
9. Diaspora - Jews living outside of Isreal,,,why not a word for Irish living outside of Ireland?
or Brits living outside of England..or Italians living outside of Italy....

I truly thought diaspora to mean all living outside their home country...boy was I disappointed.
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:14 PM
Response to Original message
11. I found the closing statements of the article truly de-lish-us
Israelis grow up with sense of urgency for excellence; in their neighborhood, First Prize is the chance to compete for First Prize once again, and Second Prize is, you're dead. American Jews live under no threat whatever; having made good in America, they have all the room in the world for indolence and self-deception.

Whatever the Jews are, they are not stupid, and American Jews knew perfectly well in 2008 that the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, was a more reliable supporter of Israel's security than Barack Obama. Yet 78% of American Jews voted for Obama, in part because the liberal social agenda mattered more to them, and in part because they continued to believe in the Rabin-Arafat handshake long after the Israelis had written it off. (Audience: If you believe in the Peace Process, clap your hands!)

Liberalism is a self-liquidating proposition, and there are no liberals like Jewish liberals, who are a soon-to-be-endangered species. The sad thing is not that the liberal leadership of American Jewish organizations is complaining about Israel, but that they won't be around much longer to complain about anything.


so if all this is indeed true liberal Jew along with liberals in general will soon die out of their own 'indolence' or whatever why is even writing this exercise in ethnic angst necessary, I mean all one has to wait, right?
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:28 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Sorta makes me think of Gingrich babbling on about "the poor",
and their need for more jobs and discipline, for their own good of course.

But yeah, he does get a bit grumpy about all the fools that fail to see how right his views are.

That last one I just don't know where to start, what you said seems tart enough.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:55 AM
Response to Reply #13
19. Secular vs. Religious
The religious will win in the end, won't they, if they have children at a rate of 5-1 to their secular counterparts?

Unless their offspring decide to abandon ship in large numbers.

Highly unlikely considering the insular nature of their universe.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:07 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. Correct
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 10:19 AM by bemildred
It the "win" means control of the Israeli state. That has already happened. Win in the larger geo-political context, I very much doubt, unless the Deity does indeed come down at the correct time and set things right.

I will quote from Emmanuel Todd (2002, "After the Empire", English translation):

"A study of birth rates shows that the Muslim world, at least as a demographic block, does not exist. Among Muslim countries one notices the greatest divergence of birth rates from 2.0 births per woman in Azerbaijan to 7.5 in Niger. The Islamic world is a microcosm of the transitions of so-called Third World countries around the globe. The former Soviet republics in the Caucasus region and in Central Asia gained high literacy levels under Commununism, and are therefore in the lead with birth rates of 2.0 for Azerbaijan and 2.7 for Uzbekistan. Tunisia is quite far along with a rate of 2.3, which is lower than the 3.1 one finds in Algeria or 3.4 in Morocco. In general the Mahgreb region colonized by France has lowered its birth rate faster than other areas of the Middle East that constitute the heart of the Arab World and were less directly influenced by the colonial hand of Europe.

---

Non-Arab Muslim countries such as Turkey, at 2.5 in 2001, and Iran at 2.1 in 2002, though never colonized, have nearly achieved their demographic transition. If one looks even further from the Arab World to countries with more recent islamic traditions, one notices that Indonesia and Malaysia have also nearly completed their demographic transitions with birth rates in 2001 of 2.7 and 3.2 respectively.

In a certain number of Muslim countries, the control over reproduction is just beginning and one notices many birth rates remain above five, such as Iraq (5.6), Pakistan (5.7), Saudi Arabia (5.8), and Nigeria (5.8). The high birth rate of Palestine (5.9) is a sociological and historical anomaly - combat reproduction linked to the occupation - for which an analogous situation can also be noted in the Jewish population of Israel whose high birth rate is the exception among highly educated Western societies. The statistical evidence shows clear divisions within the Jewish population, since nonpracticing Jews and religiously moderate Jews show a birth rate of 2.4 while the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox show a birth rate of 5.0, an increase, in fact, over the 1981 birth rate.

There are still a number of Muslim countries where the demographic changes have not really happened yet, and one notices birth rates above six per woman, such as Afghanistan (6), Mauritania (6), Mali (7), Somalia (7.3) and Niger (7.5). However the rise in literacy rates in these countries guarantees that they will follow the same path as the rest of the world towards mastery of their own reproduction."

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:24 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. And now compare and contrast with Spengler's numbers:
Jewish Fertility by Religious Current

Average Number of Children per Woman
Ultra-Orthodox..............6.72
Modern Orthodox.............3.39
Conservative................1.74
Reform......................1.36
Secular.....................1.29

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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:35 AM
Response to Reply #11
16. And of course, the real agenda of the article is this writer getting payback
on the majority of the American Jewish community for daring to disagree with him in 2008.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:53 AM
Response to Reply #11
18. Isn't that what you've observed happening in Israel?
Look at the demographic trends and look at the election results.
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 02:36 AM
Response to Original message
17. After I read the entire piece, I understood WHY you don't usually post "Spengler"
Jeez...what a smug, spiteful, vindictive schmuck that guy is.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 05:33 AM
Response to Original message
20. Why the exception?
What is up with all these right-wingers getting posted around here?
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. Please see post #10. nt
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 03:22 PM
Response to Original message
25. Non Jews seem to be Experts on this Topic
Not that I know everyones Ethnic background but I know enough that most of the 'expert' commentary on this thread came from Non-Jews ,and this is a thread on Jewish culture and not IP.

Pretty amazing actually.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 06:50 PM
Response to Original message
26. Israelis lost sight of a meaningful Jewish identity in the Diaspora
The latest storm between American Jews and the Israeli government has passed. Americans bristled that the Israeli Ministry of Absorption would characterize the potential for Jewish life in America as so small that a child would not even know that it was Hanukkah. These flare-ups, triggered by the American Jewish sense that our identities are treated dismissively, seem to be more frequent and more easily instigated.

There is no insult in the ads' post-script, stating that children of Israeli parents who grow up in America will not be Israeli. That is a fact - they will be American children of Israeli parents.

---

Are American Jews insulted and demeaned as some said in response to the ad? Or do we feel that our love for our Israeli brothers and sisters as fellow Jews is unrequited and one-sided? Israelis fall short in trying to articulate a respectful way to relate to Diaspora Jews, because they dont know how to relate to themselves in this way.

Absorption is the wrong ministry to address this problem. The real questions belong to the Ministry of Education and to tackling the disastrous Ministry of Religious Affairs. It is not American Jews with whom this state of affairs must be reconciled.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/israelis-lost-sight-of-a...
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