The Need for Dialogue Between Different Realities

Bringing together the various threads, we can perhaps sum up in the following way.

The state of Israel-diaspora relations today is extremely complex. One major reason for this is that it is now a relationship between two real entities. As such, both Israel and the diaspora have many achievements to their names - but they also have many problems. The relationship between two societies with very real problems is substantially and qualitatively different to the process that existed for so much of Jewish history in the pre-modern era, which was a relationship between a real diaspora and an Israel portrayed in mythic terms and was perceived either in terms of a distant historic past or a messianic future.

Myth and ritual are potentially - and have proved themselves in the past to be - highly effective tools for building such a relationship:


  • I. In the original scenario, Israel became the center of what the Jewish world accepted - at least in theory - as the high point and the great focus of Jewish life.

II. Only in the modern era, in the age of emancipation and freedom for western Jewry, has this model been seriously challenged.

III. The situation changed yet again with the rise of Zionism, and it could be suggested that Zionism continued that mythicization of Israel by presenting it in the most highly ideologized and idealistic terms.


    At a certain point, inevitably, reality started to break through the myths - and it is this realization which has forced the search for more complex models of relations between Israel and the diaspora.

    There are indications that these new models are beginning to emerge and that - perhaps for the first time in Jewish history - a true dialogue between Israeli thinkers and representatives and diaspora leaders, based on respect and awareness of differences is in the process of developing. It is certainly very much needed.





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    31 May 2005 / 22 Iyar 5765 0