The relation with the State of Israel embodies a considerable challenge to any Jewish community, especially the smaller ones. On the one hand, Israel evolved into to a significant element in modern Jewish identity, a role deriving from its status a major Jewish Community combined with the “Jewishness” of the State. On the other hand, Israel “raison d ‘etre” as THE historical response to Jewish life in the Diaspora and its sovereign State status implies special attention.
Modern secularity brought about a shift in Jewish identity. For many Jews around the Globe the diminishing religious identity and practice was complemented (and in many cases, substituted) with support to the State of Israel. Such historical evolution is natural for many reasons: Israel is a successful country which is a source of pride to any Jew; it is tangible and does not require the burden of “Mitzvoth”; and given the Jewish historical experience the State represents a sort of “Insurance Policy” from potential persecutions. The conclusion is that for most Jews there is not real debate about “support” per se.
Still, the sovereign status of the State of Israel implies its obligation to pursue the interests of the State and its citizens. For the purpose of this debate, the fact that Diaspora Jews are (normally) local citizens means that Israel has no formal obligations to them as long as they live abroad. Moreover, the “Jewishness” (i.e. is not ruled by the Halacha Code) of Israel means that the very existence of a Diaspora is temporal, while the objective is to bring all Jews back home. As we can see, the question of support is a bit more complicated than
For many Jews “support” means more than affection, sympathy or financial contribution: It implies, in too many cases, an automatic endorsement of each and every measure of the Israeli government. Needless to say that such “Carte Blanche” does not exist within the framework of the legitimate debate within the Israeli society itself. The advocates of this line assert that “Jews should not wash dirty laundry in public”.
For others “support” means another thing: In their view affection based upon automatism is harmful. For those, a genuine partner is the one who is paid attention, especially when the opinions expressed are critic. Put it in another way: If contrarian views are not legitimate, what kind of partnership is that? If the State of Israel expects our support, it should also be able to accept our perspective.
As in many other issues, such debate cannot be detached from real life. The kind of “Automatic” supporters of Israel may find that in many cases “Real Politik” considerations clash with their ethics and/or the interests of their own country. On the other hand, open and even sincere critics in the framework of a shallow public debate that looks only for sensationalism and nothing beyond may generate only incendiary headlines and give intellectual ammunition to those who don’t really care about the fate of Israel and the Jewish people.