The biggest boycotters of Israel are Jews themselves. I am not talking about the ultra-liberal or ultra-Reform Jews who sit on the board of BSD organizations, or about Jews who fund them, or Jews who encourage European groups to boycott the products of Israel, Israeli lecturers, artists, and the like. That is small potatoes. I am speaking about the Jews of the Diaspora who could make Aliyah, but don’t. Religious and non-religious Jews alike – these are the biggest boycotters of Israel. They don’t boycott Israeli products or professors – they boycott the whole country by not wanting to live here.
Many olim from Russia, who were once professors, or highly qualified nuclear engineers, had to settle for menial jobs in Israel, yet they managed to survive.
I realize that it is difficult for many Jews to make Aliyah. For example, if someone has to take care of his aging and ailing parents, obviously he can’t abandon them. When my aging parents became ill, I brought them to Israel to be close to my family, in the same apartment building, so that I could care for their needs. Israel has excellent health care, inexpensive government-supported medicine, and many fine services for the elderly, including social clubs in English. But if someone living in the Diaspora has the mitzvah of taking care of elderly parents and can’t move them, then that son or daughter is temporarily excused from the commandment to live in Israel. In this situation, the child must take care of his aging parents as dutifully as possible, and then when they are in Heaven, it’s time to make Aliyah.
There are other cases whereby a Jew may be temporarily excused from the obligation to make Aliyah, like if a fifty-year old lawyer feels that he won’t be able to succeed in learning Israeli law in order to pass the Israeli law board. If he knows that he can’t make a living doing anything else, and that he will be poverty stricken in Israel, then he needn’t make Aliyah. But everyone has to be honest. Many olim from Russia, who were once professors, or highly qualified nuclear engineers, had to settle for menial jobs in Israel, yet they managed to survive.
Obviously, there are a great number of Jews in the Diaspora who could make Aliyah but don’t. They are young enough, they have enough of a financial pillow, and they could find respectable work in Israel, yet they choose not to come. In effect, they are boycotting Israel.
And young people graduating from college could easily make the transition. For them, there is no excuse. And certainly, every retiring executive of a Jewish organization, with his comfortable pension, and every retiring Rabbi with his, should immediately make Aliyah as an example for their communities. When a Rabbi from Melbourne, or Paris, or Los Angeles retires, and he chooses to remain where he is, or move to New York, he is ignoring the words of King David, “If I don’t set Jerusalem above my highest joy….”
In staying in the exile, or moving to New York, he is boycotting Israel, and sending out a clear message that it is just as kosher to live amongst the gentiles in a gentile land, than to live in the Jewish Homeland.
And what about all the Jewish writers, journalists, and political commentators, who are pro-Israel in their views yet firmly ensconced in the Diaspora, galut? In today’s Internet age, they could just as easily write their articles and books in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv as in Long Island or Boston. If they support Israel so much, let them come and live in Israel! But when it comes to a total commitment, with both body and soul, they turn out to be boycotters too.
There are loud Israel boycotters, like Ultra-Orthodox Jews who reject the State of Israel and blame the Redemption’s not coming for their love affair with foreign lands; and there are the Modern Orthodox, “closet boycotters,” who support the State of Israel but who love baseball more, and who don’t want to take a drop in their salaries, or have their children endanger themselves by enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces. They are boycotters too.
Face it. Jews who boycott Aliyah are boycotting Israel. It’s the biggest boycott of all.
Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: “The Kuzari For Young Readers” and “Tuvia in the Promised Land”. His books are available on Amazon.Recently, he directed the movie, “Stories of Rebbe Nachman.”
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