Two groups of Jews gathered together last weekend at Wye Plantation, Maryland for a long discussion on the situation of the Jewish people. The first group, which met Wednesday and Thursday, consisted of the heads of 15 Jewish organizations such as the Presidents’ Conference, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the American Jewish Committee and others. In the second group were the “thinkers,” as the organizers termed them: Natan Sharansky from Israel, Charles Krauthammer from The Washington Post, former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, former Jewish Agency head Sallai Meridor and many others.
The Institute for Policy Planning of the Jewish People had organized this gathering. It had a somewhat ambitious aim – a strategic debate about the future of the Jewish people. In actuality, it focused on three issues: the challenge posed by Islam, the situation in Israel, and the weighty question of whether the Jewish people are on the rise or on the wane.
“Getting all Jews into the same shape and country, even if it is Israel, as recently advocated by an Israeli [writer, A.B. Yehoshua – S.R.] is not the best survival strategy.” Some of the Israeli participants did not like that idea. Granting official legitimacy to the Diaspora would be a mistake, Meridor said, according to some of those who participated. That would be the end of Zionism as we know it.
The fear expressed that “a real decline of the West, particularly the United States, would have dramatic consequences for the Jewish people,” also led to controversy. Brandeis University president Jehuda Reinharz agreed that this type of decline can be expected “in the coming two decades” – but Stuart Eisenstadt was less emphatic about it. He believes the United States will remain the leading power. In all events, it was agreed the Jews “should strengthen cultural links with non-Western civilizations, particularly China and also India,” powers that are on the ascent. This is not a question of preference or closeness; it is a question of survival, of readiness for the future. How should this be done? That will have to be the topic of discussion in the next gatherings already being planned.
Nevertheless, they managed to define aims and goals. First and foremost – investing in education for the young generation. The philanthropist Michael Steinhardt put great emphasis on this point, as well as on “lowering the price of Jewish life” in America. This means lowering the price of access to synagogues, Jewish schools, cultural centers and other activities.
Last year the institute held similar strategic conferences, but with slightly different participants. Then, too, in general, agreement was reached on more than a few topics. For example, that it was necessary to draw those on the fringes of Jewish civilization inward.
But there was nevertheless one who dissented – Oswald Spangler. What kept the Jews together as a people, he stated, was “magic consensus” but, he added, this is vanishing with the years. The Jews of the Western world have assimilated into general Western culture and will disappear with it. The Jews will disappear from a historical perspective; that is inevitable, he said.
Reinharz of Brandeis is among those who are concerned about the situation of Jewish education. The main conclusion from the conference, he told Haaretz, was that Jewish education “is the most important element both in Israel and in the Diaspora.” But an important corollary of this is that “it would be worthwhile thinking about education that is carried out in coordination.” He terms this a “core curriculum” – that is, a study program whose basic content would be taught to every Jew no matter where he or she is.
The whole thing here
This is an interesting article. Firstly because they expect a decline of the west in the next 20 years that concerns them enough to start looking for a new home. Secondly, because it shows a level of tribalism that is generally discouraged among white people in Western societies and will get you labelled a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews if you point out that they have it.
Mostly, I find it interesting because it reflects something I told a Serbian blogger a while ago when he was talking about leaving the US for greener pastures. People who wander will always keep wandering. They will never have an attachment to a place or people and will jump ship when they think there is something better somewhere else. They do not see themselves as a part of the local populace, as evidenced by the concern for Jewish assimilation into Western culture in this article, and have no attachment to the land or history outside of their own tribal interests.
This is the best argument for nationalism, in the thnic sense, that I can see. From the standpoint of continuation of a functioning society, you need people who are willing to make it work and not just leave when things get bad. People who see an area as their corporate private property and see their neighbors as their people, not simply the people. This land is our land, not necessarily yours.
This goes for libertarians, too, who are only loyal to a philosophy. They are not attached to anything tangible like people, place or institutions and their philosophy cannot rationalise defending a place against encroaching competition. When things get bad, they’re off to the next Libertopia.
I told that Serbian blogger that if he was planning on leaving because things were bad, then he didn’t belong anyway; it was an observation, not an indictment, though I don’t know how he took it. He’s wandering around looking for the realisation of his intangible pohilosophy while missing the tangible world around him. I told him he would ultimately end up back in Serbia. When things get bad enough, everybody goes home. Its the core of the tribe.
Middle English nacioun, from Anglo-French naciun, from Latin nation-, natio birth, race, nation, from nasci to be born; akin to Latin gignere to beget — more at kin