Joel Fein is lost. So is Josh Feldman. Their images on police-style posters like those of criminals or missing persons are featured in a new advertising campaign. The Prime Minister's Office and the Jewish Agency present: the "lost" campaign. The advertising agency responsible for the water conservation scare campaign "Israel is drying up" strikes again. This time they are scaring us over assimilation.
"Call MASA," the tip line suggests, and report a Jew who has married (may the Almighty protect us) a goy (Lord have mercy) - and they'll know how to take care of it. It is a racist, despicable, disgusting campaign. It isn't just the act of informing on someone, which is repulsive in itself. It is primarily the content of this nationalistic scare campaign, which has meanwhile been toned down in view of the reaction it engendered. A Jew who marries a goy is not "lost." Maybe, he will live happily ever after. The idea that cheap propaganda will dissuade him from his love or his faith, or lack of faith, is a backward thought. No other people would conduct such a campaign. The Jewish people no longer needs one, and the State of Israel has no right to conduct one.
There are about 13 million Jews in the world, 40 percent of whom live in Israel and 40 percent in the United States. The Israelis are in the process of consolidating a new identity, which is not affected by assimilation. As for the rest of the Jews in the world, one must assume that if they want to, they'll assimilate. If they don't want to, they won't assimilate. Israel must continue to serve as a refuge or an option for immigration for them, but no more than that.
Life in Israel is more dangerous for Jews, in any event, than in any other place, and life for the non-Jewish minority in Israel is immeasurably worse than life as a minority for most of the Jewish communities around the world. The concept of "a year in Israel, a love for a lifetime," as the MASA slogan says, is misleading. Isn't there a single tourist, either Jewish or non-Jewish, who after visiting here swore never to set foot in this place again? The violence, the crudeness, the materialism, the nationalism, the militarism, the aggressiveness and the occupation don't suit everyone.
The cheap propaganda campaigns of the Jewish Agency, Birthright (Taglit in Hebrew), the Israel Experience and MASA, try at any price to present the beautiful Israel, just and strong - but even the opportunity to take a photo in an IDF uniform, visit Sderot or have a good matchmaking experience don't ensure anything. If Israel were indeed beautiful and just, there would be no need for all the propaganda. As long as it isn't, all of the propagandists won't help. We should prefer the assimilationists, genuine friends of Israel, to Jewish friends of the occupation.
It's time to overcome such nonsense. About half of the Jewish people are assimilating, which is their choice and complete right, and we shouldn't complain about it. They're not "lost," certainly not more than those who married Jews, which we so want and push for. If a portion of the Diaspora assimilates, no catastrophe will occur. In an open and liberal society, there is no place for scare tactics over this fictitious danger. But with us, as always, size matters. We not only want a Land of Israel large in size but also a large Jewish people and to hell with all the rest.
A big Israel doesn't make it better or more just. And a larger Jewish people isn't worth anything. The time has also come to dismantle the anachronistic propaganda machines of the Jewish Agency and its affiliates. A lot of money was poured into them for nothing. What was right for a people without a state is no longer relevant. The tie with world Jewry should be based on the State of Israel as a source of pride - and it isn't. On the contrary, through its actions Israel more than once has endangered and shamed the Diaspora. Ask the Jews of the world what their neighbors said after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. As them when they last felt pride in Israel's actions.
If the Jews of the world are really dear to us, it would be better if we became less of an outcast as a country. It would bring us much more respect and honor ,and a stronger Jewish connection than any MASA or other such program. True, some of them work with youth, especially those whose lives are empty, but disappointment isn't far off. At the end of any trip to Israel on Taglit, which means "discovery" in Hebrew, another discovery is liable to pop up, a more genuine discovery about the nature of the society and the state that has been established here. Josh and Joel aren't lost. Those who call them that seem much more lost.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now