Text size

At a recent symposium in the U.S., author A. B. Yehoshua said that only Israel, and not Judaism, can ensure the survival of the Jewish people. Haaretz has invited public figures, community leaders, academics and opinion makers in Israel, the U.S. and Europe to take part in the debate sparked by his statement. In an article in the Haaretz Magazine of May 12, Yehoshua elaborates on his initial remarks. Several days later, he issued his "deepest apologies" to those offended by his comments.

A second flagYehoshua lacks the capacity to absorb what we, his students, brought from our homes - Jewish identity as perpetual trembling, as an essentially spiritual struggle to survive, as an attempt that failed and vanished in the smoke of the crematoria of Treblinka and Birkenau. Eliezer Yaari (21/05/2006)

The border has movedIf in the past, there was a need for separation between Judaism and Zionism in order to fashion a real identity and a content of equal import between two aspects of Jewish identity, today we require altogether different arguments in the real debate that is being held all around us on the issue of modern Jewish identity. Avraham Burg (19/05/2006)

How Jewish is Israel?Israel's relevance to Judaism's survival depends first and foremost on its ability to deliver justice, not only to its citizens, but to those it has displaced.Tony Karon (19/05/2006)

A letter from a lesser mortalThe moment when Jews stop questioning what it means to be a Jew is the moment the greatest tradition - and the greatest propeller - in Jewish history ceases to be.By Mireille Silcoff (19/05/2006)

Members of the Tribe / Thriving in ChinaA.B. Yehoshua predicts that Diaspora Jews will move to China if it becomes a world power. Dr. Avrum Ehrlich, professor of inter-religious studies at the University of Shandong, says this process is already on its way.By Amiram Barkat (19/05/2006)

Never mind who's rightOver the years, once the excitement over Israel's establishment, war victories and relative blooming faded, the Jewish community in America was left with the choice of agreeing with Yehoshua and viewing emigration to Israel as a noble act, or not agreeing with him and seeking other spiritual content. By Shmuel Rosner (18/05/2006)

Israelis could assimilateYehoshua's assumption seems to be that a Jew who lives in the State of Israel will always be Jewish because the very fact of a Jewish majority assures its Jewish character. But this is absurd, and dangerous. By Eric H. Yoffie (18/05/2006)

Do American Jews have a homeland at all?When A.B. Yehoshua detonated debate over the world's two principal Jewish communities, he primed the fuse with the concept of moledet - the homeland.By Bradley Burston (16/05/2006)

An Israeli without hyphensEveryone has the right to determine what kind of Jew he wants to be: secular, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, enlightened or arrogant hater of the gentiles.By Shulamit Aloni (16/05/2006)

First and foremost a JewLike Yehoshua, I am a secular person, and like him I believe that the true fulfillment of Zionism is normality - a normal life in the state of Israel, but unlike Yehoshua, I see myself as first and foremost a Jew.By Yossi Beilin (15/05/2006)

Israelis and Americans: still talking past one anotherLife in Israel and in the Diaspora is not so simple as to put it in terms of: one is good, the other is not, one has value, the other doesn't.By Abraham Foxman (14/05/2006)

Disconnected from realityThe State of Israel must make it a top priority to help Jewish communities stop the erosion of assimilation and, in various new and creative ways, enlist them in the cause of continuing the existence of the Jewish people - wherever it may be.By Ze'ev Bielski (12/05/2006)

A promised land of their ownTo the dismay of many Americans who work to support a secure and democratic Israel, there is a growing disconnect between American Jews and the Zionism many of us used to take for granted. By Larry Garber (12/05/2006)

The work will be done hereOur Jewish brethren in the Diaspora who are concerned about the fate of Israel must acknowledge that in preferring to live among the nations and not within the sovereign collective in Israel, they are relinquishing the truly significant Jewish existence.By Tzvia Greenfield (12/05/2006)

A changing balance of powerIt would be wrong to assume that the average Israeli Jew feels no ties with Diaspora Jewry, or that many Israeli Jews do not appreciate the role of Diaspora, especially American, Jewry in Israel's survival and quality of life. By Eliahu Salpeter (12/05/2006)

Who will learn from whom?Across the sea they understand the meaning of "religious pluralism" and the equality of all the religious streams in Judaism, whereas here we are still living under monopolistic Orthodoxy that meddles in the lives of citizens who seek the good of their country, and makes those lives a misery. By Yossi Sarid (12/05/2006)

There is no Zionism without JudaismYehoshua's remarks about the relations between Israel and the Diaspora, as infuriating as they may be, disturb me less than the way he described his own identity.By Natan Sharansky (12/05/2006)

People without a landInstead of joining in the celebration of the wonderful spirituality of the Jewish identity, and of the cultural renaissance in America, I tried nevertheless to outline at least a fundamental boundary between Jewish identity in Israel and Jewish identity in the Diaspora. By A.B. Yehoshua (12/05/06)

Not such a light unto the nationsIt is a disgrace for Jews everywhere that Israel is the best example of a society with utopian ideals that degenerated into the opposite of those ideals, and which conservatives use to demonstrate that humanity will always be involved in irresolvable ethnic conflict.By Rabbi Michael Lerner (11/05/2006)

A. B. Yehoshua was rightThe need to cultivate nonarrogant brotherly relations with Diaspora Jews, does not mean that the ethos of "rejecting the Diaspora" was wrong per se, or that Yehoshua was wrong in claiming that from the point of view of Jewish identity, life in Israel is preferable.By Yair Sheleg (10/05/2006)

How A.B. Yehoshua lost his crowdThe Israeli author chose to be annoying, thus disserving his cause, and failing to achieve a goal every Israeli should seek: connecting to Jewish Diaspora on a whole new level of dialog.By Shmuel Rosner (07/05/2006)

Alienated JewsMembers of the American Jewish Committee, who identify with Israel and care about its welfare, were astounded and offended to the depths of their souls this week when they heard author A.B. Yehoshua say he feels no sense of identification with them and their fate.By Amiram Barkat (07/05/2006)

A.B. Yehoshua shocks, puts Israel above his JewishnessAt the first AJC centennial symposium on the future of the Jewish people, Yehoshua declared that only Israel, and not religion, could ensure the survival of the Jewish people. By Shmuel Rosner (05/05/2006)