Two Jewish Nations, One Flag

The greatest divide in the Jewish world today is between American Jewry and Israeli Jewry.

By Yishai Fleisher, JPOST

Christiane Amanpour was on my balcony scanning the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount with her eyes. The CNN journalist had come to my home to interview me about “settlers” and the Bible, and I guessed from her line of British accented-questioning – “but do you hear God telling you to take this land?” – that she was hoping to ensnare me into saying something politically incorrect and juicy.

Suddenly, her eyes locked on the large Israeli flag fluttering on the balcony and asked: “What is the symbolism of the two blue lines on the flag – is it that Israel will control the land between the Nile and the Euphrates?”

Nothing would have made her happier than if I had gone biblical on her and said that yes, God had promised this land to the children of Abraham! But instead, I went liberal: “You know, I heard that the two lines represent the splitting of the Red Sea and that the star in the middle is the Jewish people leaving the slavery of Egypt and walking toward the freedom of Israel. The flag represents the Jewish people’s fight for self-determination after 2,000 years of oppression, and the values of liberty.”

Amanpour, looking somewhat dissatisfied, left the flag motif and went onto other topics.

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However, when I think about the flag of Israel today, with the Star of David flanked by two blue lines, I wonder if it represents the reality of the Jewish people. Back in the Exodus, we were one united nation, walking on dry land as two giant walls of sea stood on either side of us. But today we are actually two nations, 6 million living in Israel, 6 million living in the US, with a huge ocean separating us. Maybe the right way to draw a flag of the Jewish people is two Stars of David on either side, with a thick blue line going down the middle?

The recent Kotel scandal was a powerful tremor, with some pundits calling for a divorce between American and Israeli Jews. Also, many articles have been written over the past few years questioning whether Israel’s nationalist values comport with American Jewish liberal values. And even without political issues that divide us, the life of the Middle East is not like that of North America, linguistically, culturally and even Jewishly. Like two continents set on tectonic plates, the Jewish people can easily drift apart.

I, too, have been guilty of perpetuating this drift. I have been flying to North America for years for speaking engagements, teaching seminars, and fund-raising. Whenever I arrived at a fabulously wealthy synagogue or temple, my Zionism and my Israel-first impulse would kick in hard. In my mind I would imagine the building empty, sold to non-Jews, the congregants packing boxes to ship to their new homes in Israel. A strong sense of Zionism is a good thing, but the frustration and jealousy I felt toward American Jewry put a barrier between me and the people I came to see.

A few years ago I listened to an audiobook called Millionaire Mind. In it, the author said that if you meet a very successful person and subtly curse his good fortune because of jealousy, you will never become a millionaire. The only way to become rich is by rooting for and blessing the successful person to keep on winning. This wisdom hit me like a ton of bricks: Here I was trying to strengthen Israel through building a connection with American Jews, but I was sabotaging the whole thing with my righteous indignation and jealousy.

Now I took it upon myself to reform my ways and become a blesser. Today, whenever I come to a synagogue or temple in North America, I bless the building and the congregation, I bless the rabbi, and the Jewish education, and I bless the couples to have more children and to raise them right. I certainly did not come all the way from Israel to cause more division – I come from Israel to reconnect with my American mishpaha (family), to send them blessings from Jerusalem, and to make sure we as a people don’t drift apart. Of course, now that I’m a sending good energy, my work has become much more successful.

But still, being a staunch Zionist can lead to frustration with American Jewry, some of whom make little effort toward building the Jewish state, the greatest project of the Jewish people in 2,000 years. So now, after blessing the congregation, I urge them to take a small step toward Israel, like committing to drinking Israeli wine on Friday night. This certainly supports Israeli business, but more important, it puts the water and the fruit, the air and the soil of Israel itself to enter and unite with the body. Many people have told me that since they began they have accepted upon themselves to drink Israeli wine, they feel more connected with the homeland. This is a small step, but a meaningful one.

Indeed, the greatest divide in the Jewish world today is between American Jewry and Israeli Jewry. That divide has been exacerbated by tensions having to do with religious control of the Western Wall, acceptance of conversions and marriages, and questions of the future of Judea and Samaria. But while real questions underlie these tensions, the resulting rift in our peoplehood is disastrous and plays right into the hands of our enemies.

We mustn’t listen to those cynical voices who call for divorce – they are not our better angels. On the contrary, will have to work hard to hold hands across the Atlantic, and use the Internet and the airplane to stay connected. Let’s do everything possible to the ameliorate tensions between us and thereby ensure that the flag of Israel remains with only one, unified, Star of David.

Yishai Fleisher is the international spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron.

July 22, 2017 | 11 Comments » | 743 views

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11 Comments / 11 Comments

  1. Yishai’s personal t’shuvah and desire to bless American jews is laudable in and of itself. But I think he misunderstands human nature. People who have hostile attitudes and ill will toward someone else , and whose behavior reflects these attitudes,rarely respond favorably to efforts to make nice to them by the target of their anger. Usually, they will amend their hostile behavior only when they learn that they will face consequences for it, and those whom they are attacking will take measures to defend themselves. Some Reform and Conservative leaders in the United States have been supporting the Palestinian-Arab demands for unilateral Israeli withdrawals, depicting Israel as the “bad guy” in the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, and the Palestinians as their innocent victims. Now, some of them are advocating BDS against Israel. If Israel were to create a ‘blacklist” of American Jewish leaders who are behaving this way and deny them visas to come to Israel, and would further prohibit Israeli diplomats and other officials from meeting with them. I believe that at least some of them would improve their behavior. As for those who would continue their hostile behavior even when they reactive clear signals that their behavior is unacceptable to the Israeli government, I believe Israel must be honest with itself and write them off as friends, even if they are our Jewish brothers. Throughout history, some Jews have betrayed their people because they believed that their personal interests or ambitions require them to do so. There isn’t much that their Jewish brethren can do to dissuade such individuals from this course.
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  2. @ adamdalgliesh:
    I agree. In debating liberals, I found that they were my respectful when I took a hard line but when I tried to find common ground they took it as a signal to attack. Like Muslims.

    Usually. Some of them just flipped out. But, I would write those off in any case.

  3. The Jews of Judea and Samaria differ in many ways from the average Israeli, is that true? Perhaps Judea and Samaria should, once prepared, to proclaim it’s independence and establish a second Jewish nation.
    For one, Israel is not providing adequate security, obviously.
    For once, Israel could have a true friend, in theory.
    Israel could then claim it has ’67 boundaries.

  4. @ Sebastien Zorn: Yes. Also, Judah can adopt any form of government and constitution it chooses and would not be constrained by the likes of The Israeli Supreme Court or Israel’s looney left not to mention the terrorists who like to point out their citizenship, and all that they feel entitled to, like the intimidation, assault and battery and “resist” those who do not agree with their philosophy, when it suits their purpose, and incite to murder Jews otherwise, the other 99.9% of the time.

  5. @ woolymammoth:
    Sounds good. Now, all they need is a section of the army to break off and support them. I wonder if it would lead to civil war. They should try to get some good S. Korean Jewish generals to lead them, like our great Gen. Robert E. Lee (Actually pronounced Robert E. E.)

  6. @ Sebastien Zorn: Funny comment, appreciated, but yes, you have the basic idea. In the US, we have issued tens of thousands of special visas for registered nurses, as an example. This has a demographic shift favoring Asia generally. Judah or Shomron could do the same and select for those who would contribute to the society and in the words of POTUS, “….love our people….” Christians should find it a refuge and The Evangelical Community worldwide could be tapped. I personally feel that terrorists be executed, ASAP and those inclined expelled. How the hell else can a people defend themselves.

  7. @ Sebastien Zorn: (continued)

    Civil War? No sir. Ultimately Israel would have to give it’s blessings and that would take quite a bit of time and even more convincing. It is up to people like Naftali Bennet study such a concept, why, I would bet he has thought of it already. Can someone ask him?

  8. And within Israel
    “The destruction of those communities – and the expulsion of the 350,000 Jews who live in them – was also not an end unto itself. For the leftist ideologues who invented the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, destroying the settlement enterprise is a necessary precondition for destroying religious Zionism.

    And religious Zionism has to be destroyed in order to destroy Zionism.”

    Then: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Column-One-The-irony-of-the-expulsions-from-Gaza-410016

    vs. now: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/israel-military-religion/

    Internationally, it seems Hungary’s Jews are in the middle. While they have been pretty much defending Israel across the board right now, they are upset with Bibi on a number of issues from defending Orban and the anti-Soros campaign, to downplaying Orban’s tribute to Horthy and another anti-semite (though he did take responsibility for the Shoah and swear to stand by Hungary’s Jews this time) to the Neolog (Hungary’s equivalent of reform or Conservative Judaism) opposition to the decision on conversion.

  9. Israel VS “evanescent” liberal/leftist American Jews!
    Most American Jews effectively boycott Israel in spirit and economically!

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