Throughout history, lovers of the Jewish people – and sometimes even its haters – have tried to find a place to live that would distance it from danger or from the hostile eyes and hands of the gentiles. Most of us are familiar with Herzl's Uganda Plan of 1903, or at least heard of it. Herzl did not intend to establish a full national home for the Jewish people there, but he hoped at least to use the program as a temporary shelter for persecuted European Jews. Others saw it as at least a cohesive preparation for the real thing. A contemporary substitute for 40 years in the desert.
Herzl was not the only one or the first. In 1825, a Jewish journalist named Mordechai Emanuel Noah tried to establish a Jewish settlement called Ararat on an island in upstate New York. He bought the island, laid a cornerstone, predicted that it could comfortably house six million Jews, and today it does not even have a synagogue. A disappointed Noah drew conclusions from the failure and shifted his support to the old concept of a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
Alternative Jewish states were not established, but Jewish communities in the Diaspora - there is and is. There are Israelis who left the country permanently and officially, naturalized in another country, and thank God they don't have to decide which Israeli party to vote for. There are those who are in relocation whose expiration date is unknown. One would expect both kinds to mind their own affairs as citizens of the country in which they live and raise their children, and let us conduct our civic lives in the country in which we still insist on living. But it turns out that the distance from Israel does not disrupt the desire of some of them to feel that they belong to the Israeli action. And what is more action than the demonstrations against reform?
From the very first weeks, it seemed that there were Israelis abroad who were experiencing the emotion called FOMO – an acronym for fear of missing out. It's the annoying feeling that the party is somewhere else, and we're not invited or won't make it. Nonetheless, our emissaries in the Diaspora tried to show that they, too, were part of the exciting event. In February, Haaretz reported on a gathering of Israelis living in New York (immigrants, for short) for demonstrations in Washington Square, in front of the Israeli consulate, and even traveled to Brooklyn to demonstrate in front of the home of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. The descendants, like the protest activists in Israel, have vibrant WhatsApp groups, diligent organizers and branches in various cities. Protests were also held in Miami, Washington and Boston.
By March, we had been inundated with articles from four corners of the globe: demonstrations by Israelis in Paris, Madrid, Sydney and London. Even the most heart-wrenching breed of immigrants – those who prefer Germany to Israel – organized demonstrations in honor of Netanyahu's visit to their new country, near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, including a mini-parade for slaves. The demonstrations abroad are not equipped with the entire arsenal of Independence Declarations the size of a high-rise building and huge posters of Netanyahu in the image of Pharaoh – there are not enough people to carry them – but signs about dictatorship and fascism? Oh, absolutely.
The march in solidarity with Israel in New York held this week provided our international members with an opportunity to join the commando activity of the local protest, namely: violent and loud harassment of coalition members who came to the United States, their persecution for every event, the hanging of signs in and near hotels where they stayed, and of course the famous "megaphone hijacking" incident, during which a local activist followed MK Simcha Rothman, equipped with a megaphone, So that he could hear well the barrage of curses she sent at him in Hebrew from home.
In the United States, too, it turns out, there is an organized patrol of action lovers who will always be happy to report which coalition member sits on which bench in which park. In an interview with Haaretz, one of the activists, Shani Granot-Loubouton, said, "I can dispatch demonstrators anywhere in ten minutes."
The adoption of apocalyptic language, "fascism," "dictatorship," and "the end of democracy" retroactively strengthens their choice to leave Israel
In articles published about these devoted friends, a cloud of fog was maintained around the details of their stay in foreign countries, so there is no telling whether they intend to return to Israel or not. But since some of them voted with their feet and decided to live in another country, one would expect them to invest their energies of justice in protesting against the laws of the country in which they reside, or to return to the bosom of the State of Israel, where they could demonstrate as they pleased. Still, it is exciting to see how the separation from Israel is not final: they still want to belong, to show that they are still with us. And maybe the locals don't invite them to parties, so they organize their own party.
Every once in a while, Israeli artists go on tour abroad. Most of them have no expectations of liking the locals and launching a hit on the Billboard sales charts. When Shlomo Artzi performed last year at Madison Square Garden in New York, he spoke to the audience in Hebrew and sang in Hebrew. Those who came to see it were from the local immigrant community, who may have already been naturalized in their new country and may not yet have decided when, if ever, they will return to Israel. The performance of a beloved Israeli singer helps them feel at home - the one they actually gave up, but not always in theory.
So are the vigorous demonstrations against the reform. Like showing up at a concert by an Israeli singer, they too are an expression of homesickness. Adopting the apocalyptic language, "fascism," "dictatorship," and "the end of democracy" retroactively strengthens their choice. Thus they cannot be accused of abandoning the Zionist dream: look, we turned our heads for a second - and instead of Zionism we have a dictatorship. They forget, of course, that those watching all this are not the guys from the neighborhood, but the non-Jews, whose feelings toward Israel are based on a completely different foundation.
But all this is a temporary remedy against longing. Their children, who were born and raised far from Caesarea – that of my country and that of Netanyahu – will not be interested in one or the other. They will listen to American music, vote for Democrats or Republicans, and it is not certain that they will marry Jews. They certainly won't come with Mom and Dad to demonstrations against regime change in a faraway country that Mom and Dad left. Against this no megaphone will help. Take down the signs, go home.
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