Daily Alert

08 May 2008

Encouraging News for Yom HaAtzmout

Poll: Most Israelis see themselves as Jewish first, Israeli second (Ynet)

Happy Anniversary Israel. I often hear "Happy Birthday" Israel but this seems to be inaccurate. After all, this most recent Jewish commonwealth in the land of Israel is technically speaking number 3 and B'Ezras HaShem we will not have to keep counting. Unless, that is when the future redemption (may it come speedily) arrives and we realize that what was there before is so different than what it will be at that time that we conceive that a "4th" in label only, is needed.

The Ynet article below is encouraging. Often we hear primarily from the secularists and non-religious about how Israel is different, that it is not necessary to be "religious" there. "Its in the air" we have long heard. This stereotype is outdated and maybe it has been inaccurate for much longer than we realize.

It is easy to talk about Israel, in theory, from the US. It is probably easier though to talk about the diaspora, in theory, from Israel. Where religious Jews have an advantage I believe and certainly have less doubt (no matter where they reside) is in talking about Judaism, not as theory but as reality. It is this religious sense, that Jews in Israel or anywhere else are uniquely tied together in a spiritual bond of holiness which comes from Torah that makes Israel, the people and the land, special.

Torah teaches all of us as one people, one law - one people. There are however exceptions based upon the location with which you live. There are laws pertaining only to the land of Israel itself (or better laws only applicable in the land) and laws based upon Temple avodah. It is an interesting study to follow the ascension of holiness through Yisroel, Levi, and Kohain (by privileges), through all the lands, Israel, Jerusalem, and finally Har HaBayis. Yet, all Jews are still Jews no matter where they live.

What is nice to see about the Ynet story is that Israelis like Americans like British, like 'wherevers', see themselves as Jews in Israel in greater numbers than Israelis who happen to have Jewish ancestry. This can be interpreted from the data:

According to the IDI's Guttman Center, which published the data Tuesday, 94% of the Jewish population in Israel thinks of itself as part of the worldwide Jewish community – 68% think Jews living in Israel share the same destiny as those living in the Diaspora.

American Jews have tried to explain this idea of people hood within an American context for quite a long time. It is our own failure to adequately share our worldview which has sometimes opened the door to the dual loyalty claim. (albeit it is exactly this 'worldview' which threatens some people unwilling to accept it from religious bias). Non-Jews are challenged with the notion of relating "Americanism" to Jewish people hood. America, as they say is a melting pot, a cholent of sorts (with the Jews, of course being the kishke, dissolved within but definitely noticeable for coloring and influencing the whole cholent).

It is not a mental challenge for Levine to be every bit as loyal as Smith and still retain the Jewish people hood concept in its fullest. Why? Because HaShem selected us to be his shluchim to the world. As the Rebbe would say, {paraphrased} - every Jew is like an only child of HaShem. And even though we are like an only child, we have siblings for whom we care about greatly. And as a family, we have a unique inheritance from our Father for which we must share, not only in good times but in difficult times as well (may there be only simchas). It is most satisfactory that our family caretakers of the land part of the inheritance understand this too. Now if only for the Torah part.....





Poll: Most Israelis see themselves as Jewish first, Israeli second (Ynet)

Israel Democracy Institute releases special survey probing Israelis' perception of identify, says 94% of Jewish population in Israel believes it is part of worldwide Jewish community

Kobi Nahshoni

Sixty years after Israel was established as the Jewish state and the polemic is at its peak – are we Jewish first and Israeli second or vice versa?

An ongoing study preformed by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), published for the first time on Ynet, reveals that 47% of the public sees itself as Jewish first and Israeli second, as apposed to 39% with consider themselves first and foremost Israeli.

According to the IDI's Guttman Center, which published the data Tuesday, 94% of the Jewish population in Israel thinks of itself as part of the worldwide Jewish community – 68% think Jews living in Israel share the same destiny as those living in the Diaspora.

The majority of the study was bases on an ongoing survey, taken by the Guttman Center among the Jewish sector in the country.

Those taking part were asked to rate the way they perceived their identity according to importance, and so 47% said they were Jewish, 39% said they were Israeli, 10% based their identity according on their religious affiliation and 4% according to their ethnic denomination.

A closer look at the religious sectoring showed that the more devout the sector – the stronger the Jewish definition: Some 78% of those identifying themselves as haredim and 73% of their religious counterparts chose the Jewish persona over the Israeli one, with 0% and 16% (respectively) choosing to define themselves as Israelis.

Among those who said they were traditionalist, 55% saw themselves Jewish and 35% as Israelis. Within the secular sector, 49% said they saw themselves as Israeli first and 34% said they were Jewish first – Israeli second.

As for the Arab sector, the polling data showed that the majority of Israeli Arab see themselves as Palestinian or as Arab, and only a minor percentage of the sector see themselves as Israeli: Forty-five percent said they were Arab, 24% think of themselves as Palestinians, 19% define themselves by their religious affiliation and only 12% said they were Israelis.

The second part of the study takes a closer look at the current data in comparison to similar surveys taken in 1991 and 1999.

The data showed that the overall feeling of belonging to a "greater community" among Jews has remanded unchanged despite a certain decline in the belief in a common destiny with Diaspora Jews.

The Guttman Center goes on to quote a poll taken in 2007, which said that 76% of Jews living in Israel felt they shared the same destiny as their brethren abroad; 2008's poll pegged the number at 68%.

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