By Israel Hayom—
Since their dispersion, Jews who for centuries endured Christian and Muslim persecution, maintained spiritual (and in a few cases physical) links with their homeland, praying for their return to Zion and the advent of the Messiah.
In the late 19th century, the Eastern European secular utopians who sought to escape persecution came to Palestine with the objective of engaging in agriculture and transforming the Jewish homeland into a socialist haven.
The British conquest of Jerusalem and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire ushered in a series of mass migratory movements, and for the first time, large numbers of Jews turned to Palestine as a haven.
The Russian civil war and the bloody pogroms associated with it were followed by the rise of Nazism which led to a growing immigration of Jewish refugees, which was nearly frozen from 1939 until the end of the British Mandate.
The mass immigration of Holocaust survivors was augmented after Israeli independence by Jews fleeing persecution in Muslim countries, the Soviet Union, Ethiopia, and smaller communities.
Since the establishment of the state, the ingathering of the exiles, as predicted in the Bible, was realized at a dramatic pace. From a fledgling community of 600,000 in 1948, Israel’s population has increased more than tenfold. It is now the most successful and powerful state in the region. Yet immigration from the West is limited to a trickle of highly motivated, idealistic individuals, and more than half of the world’s Jewish population remains in the Diaspora.
The time has come for Western Jews to objectively re-evaluate their position.
Realistically, the majority will not pack up and come to Israel, even if anti-Semitism escalates and their condition deteriorates significantly.
But committed Jews must ask themselves: Is Jewish continuity important to me and my children?
Those remaining in the diaspora must recognize that even with the best of intentions, the chances of their grandchildren remaining Jewish is slim. The likelihood of Jewish continuity among nonobservant Jews is minimal, and non-Orthodox communities will shrink significantly.
In today’s open society, it is almost impossible to build solid barriers against acculturation. Young people tend to identify Judaism exclusively with liberalism and universalism, and any objection to intermarriage that is not based on religious grounds is condemned as racist.
Meanwhile, with the skyrocketing cost of Jewish education only the most committed are providing their children with a decent Jewish education.
Likewise, neither remembering the Holocaust nor supporting Israel are the unifying forces they once were. Meanwhile, intermarriage has escalated dramatically – amounting to 70% of unions among non-Orthodox Jews.
The global explosion of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, principally from the extreme Left but also from the extreme Right, displays no signs of abating, despite the cushioning impact of evangelical Christian support.
The hatred on college campuses and in the viciously biased liberal media have a traumatic impact on those who believed that anti-Semitism was extinct.
In America, the left wing of the Democratic Party is increasingly hostile to Israel. Most liberal American Jews abhor President Donald Trump, but a change of administration could have very negative consequences for Israel.
In Western Europe, Jews in many countries feel like pariahs and are often reluctant to appear obviously Jewish, and some even conceal their names. The massive Muslim immigration, which includes many people with anti-Semitic inclinations, exacerbates the situation, as does Islamic terrorism.
In the U.K., where Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn boasts of his friendship with Hezbollah, there is a real possibility that the next British prime minister could be an anti-Semite. As a foretaste of what is to come, Amnesty International U.K. canceled a recent event, initiated by the Jewish Leadership Council, to critique the U.N. Human Rights Council, citing that Amnesty considered it inappropriate to include Jewish organizations that oppose boycotting the Israeli settlements!
One must consider the impact of living under such adverse conditions on young people. It is impossible to lead a normal Jewish life when continuously bombarded by the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric that pervades the media and the street.
Those who care about their Jewish future should now carefully consider their options.
Granted, many without the accumulated capital or means, or having reached middle age would face serious challenges in making aliyah.
But those who consider Jewish continuity important should seriously contemplate aliyah now – or at least encourage their children to do so.
Aliyah is the only long-term solution to acculturation and anti-Semitism. An additional incentive is the availability in Israel of a Jewish education, which the state provides in a wide range to include secular, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox streams.
We cannot expect hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Western world to make aliyah but those concerned that their grandchildren remain Jewish should be contemplating whether to remain in the Diaspora or become a vibrant and active component of the Jewish nation.
The storm clouds are gathering and the time for decision-making is now.
Isi Leibler’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.