For several decades, the question about Jewish identity - "who is a Jew" - has been buried and conveniently forgotten - due to fake political correctness, in fear of being called "racist", and to appease some prominent members of the community - by Jewish leadership and Jewish communities.
Recently Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed strong opinions, as it should be when someone has an opinion, on the role of religion in the State of Israel (and Jewish identity). "When talking about the Jewish state, is important to emphasize that in the national sense and not in the religious sense," Liberman said. He added that Yisrael Beytenu is very much for Jewish tradition in Israel.
"We respect the religion and Judaism," he said. "Without Judaism and tradition, we would not be standing on this podium. Without Judaism we would not be here and have not established the State of Israel and therefore we can do no harm to Jewish tradition in Israel."
"In the state of Israel you cannot separate religion and state," he said. "As Jews, we do not distinguish between religion and nationality." This principle is applicable to all Jews, regardless of their current residence!
The story of the Four Sons is read at the Passover Seder table. Each of the Four Sons symbolizes a different kind of Jewish person, from the "Wise" one to "the Son who doesn't Know Enough to Ask". The story of the Four Sons reflects that no matter what religious or political views a Jew has all of us are important and intricate parts of the Jewish nation!
Diversity of the Jewish people with emphasis on national unity is addressed again during the celebration of Sukkot when four fruits and plants must be united in order for Jews to make a prayer for peace and prosperity for all people, not just Jews!
Enemies of the Jewish people have given us many derogatory and demonizing names in order to rob us of our true spiritual names: "Israel" - "Triumphant with God", and "Evrim" - "one who have crossed over".
Jewish spiritual and national unity was shaken after Napoleonic times. When loyalty of French Jews was questioned, rabbis gave an ambiguous answer to prove Jewish loyalty to France, which implied separation of religion and nationality. After that Napoleon had granted Jews some degree of equality in the French Empire, although, this 'equality' experiment did not last long in anti-Semitic Europe!
Not long ago, being a Jew meant both: religion and an ethnicity -- that is, how all our anti-Semitic 'friends' have always treated Jews. Most of them are still thinking and behaving this way! Being Jewish is not just praying to one G-d, or having Jewish parents. It is belonging to a rich spiritual, cultural and national tradition. It is being a member of the nation which in spite of all odds, persecution and relatively small population, survived for several thousand years and made immense contribution to spiritual, intellectual and scientific development of Humanity.
Jewish ethnicity, due to the lack of traditional spiritual education, had secured the continuity of family traditions and national belonging even in secular countries like the Soviet Union.
There are less than 14 million Jews in the world now, almost the same number as 60 years ago after WWII. During this time most nations have tripled or quadrupled their population! This is an unfortunate result of the assimilation process Jews have been suffering due to the national identity crisis, anti-Semitic persecution and lack of self-respect.
Jews population during the Roman Empire was around 9 million, similar to the ethnic Han population of China at the time, several hundred million now. Two thousand years later Jewish population is merely 14 million.
Assimilation is the biggest threat to the existence of the Jewish people! Breaking the duality of Jewish identity is encouraged by Jew-haters and self-hating Jews as the way to facilitate assimilation and elimination of Jewish identity.
There are some Judeo-Christian groups who celebrate Christmas and Hanukah. Usually Jews who turn their back on their heritage disappear in one or two generations.
The 'Integration' of Jews is still a hidden agenda of our enemies - extermination of the Jews by any way possible! By facilitating disappearance of Jews they - in their schizoid and delusional belief - feel that they prove that their religion, whether Islam or Christianity, is the true Abrahamic one!
The physical departure from Egypt was brief and relatively painless from the historical perspective. On the other hand, the concepts of national unity and the chosen Jewish nation, living on the land given by G-d, is the one which many Jewish people are still struggling with, even those living in Israel. This self-doubt, which is perceived as lack of self-respect, is the main reason for continuation of anti-Semitic ugliness and for the enduring Israeli-Arab conflict. Jews were admired and respected, even by enemies, after the War of Independence, the Six Days war and even the Yom Kippur war, when in spite of all odds, the young Jewish nation defeated superior Islamic forces. But each time these achievements were negated by consideration for wellbeing of our enemies more than our own and by caring too much about what our enemies think or would do.
Jewish people, community leaders and the political hierarchy of Israel must remember that nobody respects those who have no self-respect!
- PS: Tinok Shenishba ("captured infant") - is a Talmudic term that refers to a Jewish individual who sins inadvertently as a result of having been raised without an appreciation for the thought and practices of Judaism. "Tinok" principle used to be an important part of Jewish life, even in my family - 3 generations of non-religious Jews!
Steven Shamrak is the Editor of The Shamrak Report) which is published weekly at Magic City. Its aim is to present the Jewish point of view on the Arab-Israel conflict and motivate people to support ideals and inspirations of true Zionism, the Jewish National independence movement. We are not affiliated with or sponsored by any government or political party.
Other Articles by Steven Shamrak include:
Modern History of Palestine in Maps
The Palestinian Mandate - Legalised Robbery
Ethnic Make Up of so-called Palestinians
Arab-Israel Conflict - Forgotten Facts!
Why Israel is Suspicious of United Nations?
The War on Terror - Containment Plan
The Sinai Option: Road to Permanent Peace!