JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua at a public lecture called American Jews "partial Jews."
Discussing the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jews, Yehoshua said last Friday at the Land of Israel Museum, referring to American Jewry, "They are partial Jews while I am a complete Jew," Haaretz reported.
"In no way are we the same thing — we are total and they are partial; we are Israeli and also Jewish. In recent years, my friends and I have needed to defend Israel against the matter of the state, as if it is merely an issue of citizenship, while Israel is the authentic, deep concept of the Jewish people."
He went on to say that "in no siddur is there a mention of the word ‘Jew’ but only ‘Israeli.’ The name of our country and the territory is Land of Israel, and it is about this deep matter that we must defend against a Jewish offensive."
Yehoshua also said that living outside Israel "is a very deep failure of the Jewish people," according to Haaretz, and called immigration from the United States minimal and embarrassing.
Yehoshua has made such statements in the past. In May 2006 he told the centennial celebration of the American Jewish Committee in Washington that Jewish life is experienced more completely in Israel than anywhere else. The comments set off a firestorm of angry recriminations from Diaspora Jews who felt that they were being marginalized.
Two years later he told a Paris conference sponsored by a French Jewish author lecture group and Yehoshua’s French publishing house that "I am a total Jew because I live in Israel, but you in France are partial Jews, though one is not better or worse than the other."