How Israelis Think about the Diaspora

I was reproached for questioning whether Jews should be creating new communities in places from which they were cleansed. Let me explain.

People standing in front of candles and flowers at the synagogue in Halle, Germany after a right-wing extremist attack on October 9, 2019. Photo by Hendrik Schmidt via Getty Images.

People standing in front of candles and flowers at the synagogue in Halle, Germany after a right-wing extremist attack on October 9, 2019. Photo by Hendrik Schmidt via Getty Images.

Observation
Jan. 28 2020
About the author

Yaacov Lozowick served as director of archives at Yad Vashem and chief archivist at the Israel State Archives. He now teaches at Bar-Ilan University.


A few months ago, shortly after an attempted attack on his synagogue, the head of the Jewish community in the German city of Halle wondered publicly about the future of Jews there. His comments led me to question, on Twitter, whether it was worthwhile for Jews to continue living in the city in the first place. After receiving numerous replies scolding me for effectively aligning with anti-Semites—who also wish to rid Halle of its Jews—it occurred to me I had stumbled onto a knotty topic worthy of disentangling. I also realized that, having lived in Israel for five decades, I had a perspective quite different from that of both Germans and Diaspora Jewry. The latter two would wish for the Jews to stay; as for me, I’m ambivalent.

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More about: Diaspora, Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora