Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Av 5764 - July 28, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Correct and Realistic Call to the Jews of France

According to the newspapers, the diplomatic tension that was generated between Israel and France by Prime Minister Sharon's call to French Jews to come to Israel has been relieved. However the obtuseness and absurdity -- not to mention the detachment from reality -- that were obviously behind the prime minister's public pronouncement will unfortunately not go away so quickly.

"I have some advice for our Jewish brethren who live in France," declared the Israeli prime minister after a recent widely-publicized antisemitic incident in France. "Move to Israel as fast as you can. Here is where you should find your home. We see how antisemitism in France is spreading wildly."

Though the prime minister was only sounding one of the themes that he has been playing for the past three years, and the whole Zionist movement has been declaiming like thoughtless parrots for more than 50 years, France -- both Jewish and non- Jewish -- was outraged. At a time when the French governmental leaders have been making very public efforts to do something against antisemitism, and the Jewish community has been at pains to emphasize its rights as French citizens so that the national government will in fact fight antisemitism effectively and not dismiss it as a lamentable -- but inevitable -- consequence of the actions of the State of Israel, Sharon's Israel-centered call was felt as a deep embarrassment by the French Jewish establishment and as nothing less than a slap in the face of the French government. The French government will not or cannot protect its Jews, said Sharon. They should therefore move to Israel.

Aside from their gross insensitivity to the situation of their intended audience and their consequences in that context, the content of Sharon's remarks seem totally out of touch with reality.

Does it make sense to tell a Jew in France to move to Israel because of the antisemitism in his home country, which has so far resulted in hundreds of incidents but has been limited to verbal assaults with a relatively small amount of personal injury and property damage -- in order to come to Israel where the same modern Moslem hatred of Jews has caused a thousand deaths and tens of thousands of injuries in the past few years alone? To be sure, standard Zionist theory for the past hundred years preaches that the State of Israel will solve the problem of antisemitism, but surely the painful experience of more than half a century shows how false that promise was.

Today, the State of Israel has become the focus and the lightning-rod of all the antisemitism in the world, and its citizens live under the greatest threat to Jews anywhere in the world of being murdered simply because they are Jews, Hashem yishmor.

The prime minister of a government whose senior partner is the first party in Israeli history whose only agenda is to fight against all aspects of the Jewish religion, and whose negative achievements are the un-Judaizing of the public spaces of the State of Israel, probably does not want to hear about the most powerful elements that really bind French Jews to Israel today.

This is undoubtedly the leadership of the gedolei Torah and the spiritual revival among French Jewry. The common heritage of Toras Yisroel, and the enhanced appreciation of this that has become popular among many French Jews, especially those of North African heritage, are bonds that are much more powerful -- and positive -- than any fear of antisemitism.

The agenda of the Torah community is not to tell people where to live, but to help them make the right decisions as to how to live. The number one priority of the Torah community is that Jews should be loyal to Hashem and His Torah. Once that is firmly settled, they will surely make the best decision -- for them -- as to where they can best fulfill their primary mission in life, whether that is Paris or New York or Eretz Yisroel.

As HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman shlita said on his trip to France two years ago, "You have the opportunity to instill [your] children with yiras Shomayim and Torah, and that is the ultimate and only purpose."

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