Graduate Student Pushes for Jewish State in Germany

Israeli art student to head political movement calling for a second Jewish state, this one in Europe.

Anat Or, Haaretz Correspondent
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Anat Or, Haaretz Correspondent

Whenever someone launches an initiative towards establishing a Jewish state in addition to the one already in existence, there is invariably a ripple effect. This time, however, an even bigger stir than usual has been caused by the proposed site of the "second Israel": Germany.

Last May, an announcement began making the rounds on the Internet, informing the public of a rally set to take place June 22 in the central square of the town of Weimar, situated in the east German state of Thuringia.

Ronen Eidelman, a journalist who espouses politically leftist views and is currently completing his masters studies at an art university in Weimar, says the movement that he heads is in fact his final academic project.

"As of now, it is still an art project because it's in the idea stage, but the goal is certainly to become a political movement," Eidelman said. "I'm very serious about the process and what it does, which is make people ask questions [as well as] create a dialogue and conflict."

The idea of establishing a Jewish state outside of Israel has been recycled from years past. The most recent edition drew attention in August 2000, when the concept of declaring the independent state of "New Israel" on the Australian continent was proposed. Author Michael Chabon imagines what a Jewish state in Alaska would resemble in his latest book, The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

Eidelman cites another book, this one by Dudu Busi, entitled Mom Misses the Words. Busi ponders why a slice of German territory was not allocated specifically for Jewish settlement following the Second World War, even mentioning statements by former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg to the effect of a Jewish return en masse to Germany.

"It's sitting there in the collective subconscious," Eidelman said. "It's like it's in the air."

One of the motivating factors which compelled Eidelman to conceive of his idea was the famous speech delivered by Iran's president calling for the elimination of the state of Israel and the establishment of a Jewish-run entity in an alternate location in Europe. "It's clear that Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier and not some great theoretician, but he touched upon a very exposed nerve." A video academic work produced by the artist Yael Bartana, which depicts a Polish member of parliament calling on the Jews to return to Poland ("We miss you"), served as the tipping point for Eidelman.

"The state of Thuringia is becoming more empty of people, the economy is not successful, and there is no immigration," Eidelman said. "They're hurting from the fact that there are no foreigners here. Hitler's dream of racially pure states has proven to be a nightmare. You walk down the street and notice all the girls look alike. I'm going to convince the Germans that a Jewish state here is to their benefit."