American Jews and the Israeli Dream
How Anti-Semitism Will Accelerate a Jewish American Exodus
“I will establish My salvation in Zion, my splendor for Israel.” Isaiah (46:13)
The future of American Jewry is at stake. In the face of distress and adversity due to the rise of virulent anti-Semitism in the US, Jews cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend life is business as usual. The sense of safety in the US has changed and is collapsing fast. The option of emigrating to Israel can no longer be overlooked, not only as a matter of survival, but also as an opportunity for the renaissance of the Jewish nation.
59 percent of Americans perceive anti-Semitism to be more intense than 15 years ago, according to research conducted by the Hudson Institute. In fact, the statistics indicate that there were 234 anti-Semitic incidents reported last year compared to 186 cases in 2018, based on official data. Interestingly, while biased attacks against Jews rose 26% in New York City in just one year, hate crimes overall were at a record low. The biting reality exerts overwhelming pressures on Jewish communities, mainly in the largest US cities.
Thus, a shift in prevailing immigration trends is expected in the near future, particularly from the US, as the possibility of making Aliyah becomes an increasingly attractive option.
A New Chapter for Jewish American Immigration to Israel
A total of 3.3 million immigrants have moved to Israel from the time of the Jewish State’s establishment in 1948 until 2018, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. Of all these immigrants, only 148,083 Jews emigrated from the United States, according to Jewish Agency data.
No one expects that tomorrow morning thousands of American Jews will arrive at Ben Gurion airport—it might take a decade—but thoughts about purchasing an apartment in Israel “just in case” increase. There is no reason for concern about real estate, however. Israel is a wide-open country. It has space not only for the thousands of Jews who will eventually arrive from North America, but for every Jew in the Diaspora, and even for the future reemergence of the ten lost tribes and their many descendants. Not a single one will be driven back into the sea.
The Book of Daniel calls the Land of Israel the “land of the deer.” Also, as the Talmud explains: "Just as the hide of the deer has the capacity to encompass its body, but shrinks when separated from its flesh, so too can the Land of Israel expand to encompass its rightful inhabitants but shrinks when we are exiled from it." In other words, if we make Aliyah and settle in Israel, there will be room for all.
What will happen in the USA when the Jews leave? It will implode. Without the Jewish spirit which fills it and brings about its success and prosperity, America will lose its superpower status. This is what happened to Spain in the Middle Ages, in France, and in Germany. When the Jews were expelled, those countries lost their grandeur.
The Impact of a Massive American Aliyah
Massive immigration of Jews to Israel will project a state of enhanced Israeli power in the eyes of the Arab countries and will restrain them until calm descends over the Middle East. Clearly, the world is in a continuous maturation process. While it is true that for the time being we have a trusted friend in America, even if Trump is re-elected, change is still on the horizon. Imagine masses of hateful protesters, fed up with the government, converging on Pennsylvania Avenue all the way to the White House with no holds barred, kicking their feet until the government is overturned by force. Or perhaps someone who holds anti-Semitic views will rise to power and the trend of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiments will snowball.
In such a scenario, which is not at all unfathomable, Jews will not be allowed to escape with their property, certainly not with the industries and conglomerates they may own. In the best of cases, they will be able to flee in haste with only a suitcase in hand. Yes, history is bound to repeat itself. Such a period in the U.S will be reminiscent of the dark period eighty years ago. Not all details will be the same, but the rules of the game will be frighteningly similar.
This is why today, as then, we have to think about our good future and accelerate the change of incompatible lines of thought--from rejecting “the land of the deer” to love of the homeland. Israel is home, shield, and fortress. Within the stalking sound of anti-Semitism, the voice of Divine protection calls upon us to shelter together under one roof, even though this is not the final stop.
We can reach our final destiny of tranquility only when we attain complete unity in the connection of all currents and opinions, when we live in “love above all crimes” and differences. Only then will the bitter anti-Semitism end, as well as the troubles of the long exile. When we approach each other out of free choice to make strides into a positively connected future, and not to escape persecution, we will then reach redemption at last. As the Kabbalist and first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, Rav Kook wrote,
“All individual thoughts and ideas proceeding in an impoverished and scattered state—the atmosphere of the land of other nations—must form one bundle, must clothe themselves in one general intent related to the life of the entire nation, under the influence of the land of Israel.” (Chevyon Oz)
In line with Rav Kook and the chain of great Kabbalists that preceded him, the Land of Israel was viewed as a new spiritual milestone and there the people returning to Zion would be required to realize their spiritual role. They believed that the Land of Israel was given to the people of Israel in order to form an exemplary spiritual society, a hotbed for the work in which the desire for inner fulfillment is cultivated, far beyond the aspects of territorial concern.
The ingathering of the Diaspora in the Land of Israel symbolizes the beginning of the realization of the spiritual idea upon which the Jewish people was founded: a place for attaining unity that transcends our narrow egoistic existence to build a common and flourishing destiny for all.