JERUSALEM (Nov. 22)
Israelis and American Jews alike believe that Jews who emigrate from the Soviet Union to the United States with Israeli visas do great disservice to the central interests of the Jewish people.
They exchange the idea of a Jewish homeland for the opportunistic notion of individual welfare. They bring discredit on the powerful historic theme in the name of which their deliverance was secured. They reward the State of Israel for their own redemption by reducing the dignity and authenticity of the very statehood which has served them in their ordeal. Every resource of persuasion and incentive should be put to work to bring this moral paradox to an end.
Yet with all the severity of this judgement I hope that American Jewish organizations will reject any advice to withhold aid and compassion from Soviet Jews who reach a free haven anywhere in the world. The deepest issues of Jewish fraternity are here at issue. Since our Jewish relationship is fraternal it imposes an unconditional solidarity.
Zionism has an absolute obligation to the interests of every Jew, in rectitude or in error, for better or for worse. The obligation is transcendent and all-embracing. It springs to our conscience from the depths of our tragic history. And it is sustained by memories too poignant to discard.
INTOLERABLE MORAL IMPLICATION
Aliya is a unique and a translatable idea. But it is totally incompatible with any concept of coercion. If it lacks the voluntary impulse it becomes drained of its nobility. Nor is there much prospect of durability in a sojourn in Israel engendered by the pressure of deprivation imposed by a docile but reluctant American Jewish decision. The moral implication is intolerable.
American Jews who have shown an infinitely smaller tendency towards aliya than Soviet Jewry have no right to compel Soviet Jews to fulfill an obligation that American Jews ignore with such totality. The American Jewish kettle is not entitled to call the Soviet Jewish pot black or any other color. Whatever the motives for the American Jewish record on aliya it must surely generate a decent humility towards Soviet Jews who, in their fatigue and confusion, are unable to fulfill the dictates of our national history.
When Zionism celebrated its decisive political victory after World War I its leaders took a double and parallel course. (Chaim) Weismann and his colleagues appeared before the peace conference in 1919 with their call for recognition of Jewish national independence. And Nahum Sokolow, representing Zionism in its full sovereignty, joined Louis Marshall and Julian Mack in their efforts to protect the civil and collective Jewish rights of Jewish communities in Europe.
THE LIBEL OF INDIFFERENCE
The most satanic and heinous anti-Zionist propaganda after the second World War sought to saddle Zionism with the sin of indifference to the saving of Jewish lives other than those destined for Eretz Israel. We dare not accord retroactive validity to this libel by giving our Jewish solidarity a parochial or selective interpretation.
When we rightly assert that a Jewish State had it existed in the 1940s, would have saved the lives of millions of Jews, the diagnosis certainly includes not only those who would have “come home” in the fullest sense, but also those who would have used a sovereign Jewish passport for their varied forms of personal deliverance.
DIVISION WOULD BE TRAGIC
I hope that Israeli leaders who wish to obey an integral Zionism, free of any Canaanitish emphasis, should think again, and liberate American Jewish leaders from a pressure that goes against every fraternal and humane impulse. In any case this is a theme on which American Jews have a right, and perhaps a duty, to assert their independent judgement.
Nothing could be more tragic than to embark on a policy that would cause division between American Jews and each other, between American and Russian Jews, between Israel and the Jews of the two main diasporas. If we separate our disapproval of the dropout process from our humane duty to those involved, these discords can still be avoided.