As I wrote, I love a good spat. A.B. Yehoshua apologized for his AJC remarks about Jewish identity which offended so many people:
"Reverberations from the first evening of the conference have made me realize, to my distress, that a not-insignificant portion of the audience was offended by the tone of my remarks, as well as by part of their content....
"I wish, therefore, to express to them my deepest apologies," he writes. "Everything I said about the partial nature of Jewish life in the Diaspora as opposed to the all-inclusive nature of Jewish life in Israel has been said by me over the course of many years in the past, both in print and in addressing numerous Diaspora Jews.
"Never before did this lead to such an angry reaction as it did this time. Presumably, there was something in my tone and imprecise formulation that insulted part of the audience. I say "part," because there were also those who came up afterwards to thank me - which does not, of course, compensate for the feelings of the others.
I for one, find it hard to believe that Yehoshua has voiced precisely those sentiments before without getting a rather strong reaction. It is very easy to pick a fight with American Jews by raising the identity question. Even my very cautious admission that in my view Yehoshua is right, and Sharansky is also right, each in his own way, provoked some thundering criticism from US Jews. I love a good spat, but only as a spectator sport.
I also find that Yehoshua's obsession with identity is a bit strange. I do not worry about my "Jewish Identity" or my "Israeli Identity" or losing it any more than I worry about my ears falling off. It is part of me. I confess that I find it hard to relate to discussions about identity problems, in the same way that I would find it hard to relate to any problem I didn't really experience. Indeed, Yehoshua almost said as much. He said his identity is not like a jacket that you can take off. If it is part of him, why is he so concerned about it?
If anything, identity questions get pushed to the background when you are part of a country where most people have the same identity. In Europe or the USA I think about being Israeli or Jewish, because others around me are not Jewish. In Israel it is just there. There are Israelis who have a Jewish identity crisis I know, and they are the ones who are usually most concerned with this identity question.
Bradley Burston took up the theme from a different angle in Ha'aretz. He wrote:
"Do the Jews of North America need Israel? And if they do, what, exactly, is it that they need?
For one thing, a homeland. "
He is not saying, "come on Aliya." He is saying, that American Jews need Israel as their "old country" on which they can build their ethnic identity, because third generation American Jews can no longer relate to European Jewish communities that do not exist any more.
Ami Isseroff on 05.18.06 @ 02:16 AM CST [link]