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Noted Israeli Author Says Diaspora Phenomenon is Self-imposed Condition

Prof. A.B. Yehoshua, one of Israel’s foremost novelists who is known for his strong objections to Jews living outside Israel, said here that the diaspora phenomenon is a self-imposed, not forced, condition.

In a provocative speech entitled “Diaspora — The Neurotic Solution,” he told a meeting of the American Jewish Committee’s Board of Governors, that the Jewish people had brought upon itself a history of diaspora experience, perception and mentality.

Yehoshua stated that many times throughout history, Jews had been given the opportunity to return to Eretz Yisrael but that the vast majority declined to do so.

“The most sparsely populated Jewish center in the world, “he said, “has always been Israel itself. Jews have repeatedly rejected the chance to create a new and historic destiny — that of a ‘normal people’, at home in their own country. They have repeatedly chosen to be a people apart, a nation ‘free’ in the diaspora, but without a country they could really call their own.”

The 48-year-old scholar added: “In the future, there will probably be Jews living in outer space who, every year at Passover, will say, ‘Next Year In Jerusalem’. They will pray in outer space with the synagogue facing Jerusalem. But they will not come here to live.”

VIEW OF DIASPORA REJECTED BY AJCOMMITTEE LEADER

Responding to Yehoshua, Dr. David Gordis, AJCommittee executive vice president, questioned his interpretation of Jewish history and his characterization of the diaspora. He said that American Jews “share the commitment of all world Jewry in the miracle of Israel’s national rebirth.”

Continuing, Gordis said: “We believe in the importance of allya for Israel and affirm it as a unique mode of Jewish self-fulfillment for those who chose it. But the creative experience of the Jewish diaspora, problematic as it is in certain ways, refutes the contention that the diaspora is a ‘neurotic’ and negative phenomenon.

“The Jewish experience in all its dimensions, Israel and diaspora, particular and universal, is unique, creative and authentic, and the future of Jewish life depends on the development of a mutually reinforcing relationship between the great centers of Jewish life in the Land of Israel and outside it. The American Jewish Committee is pledged to share in the building of this relationship.”

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