Saturday, June 12, 2010
Scapegoated-over-Israel-remarks reporter Helen Thomas is prescient... Jews DO prefer settlement in Germany
HT: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not Germany, not Poland."
Interviewer: "so where should they go?"
HT: "Home. Poland. Germany. America.
And everywhere else."
"...many Jews who once might have considered emigrating to Israel - making their Aliya - have in the past few years been choosing to head to Germany instead.
In 2003, for example, 12,383 Jews reportedly chose to emigrate from the former Soviet Union to Israel. But 15,442 went to Germany. The latter country, which had conceived the idea of eliminating Jews altogether just 60 years previously, was more enticing to them than the promised land itself."
[Mouse over the image for a word from the BIG guy]
14 May 2008
Israel's anxiety as Jews prefer Germany
By Harry de Quetteville
Berlin - Israel officially celebrates its 60th birthday this month, but Amnon Seelig's grandparents were in the Holy Land well before May 14, 1948.
Like many other Jews in the first decades of last century, they were Zionists, building a life for themselves in Palestine. And while the ideology of Theodor Herzl may have been inspiration enough for many Jews, 26-year-old Amnon's grandparents had a powerful additional motivation to start anew in what was to become Israel.
"My grandparents lived in Berlin," he recalled. "There they witnessed the emergence and rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, and suffered the stifling and sinister effects of German anti-Semitism."
For Mr Seelig's grandparents, Israel was - even before its creation -a refuge from a tyrannical and ultimately murderous Germany. The Seeligs put down roots there. Their children were born in Israel. Amnon himself grew up in the outskirts of Tel Aviv, capital of the nation his grandparents helped to build.
But, while he wears a gold Star of David on a chain around his neck, he does not live in Tel Aviv any more. "I moved to Germany 18 months ago," he said, "and I'm not planning on moving back to Israel any time soon."
In his decision to leave Israel, to beat a path in the opposite direction to his grandparents, he is not alone. Many Israelis have also chosen to leave, and are now living and working in Europe or America.
"Israel's greatest concern at the moment is that there have never been more Israelis living abroad," said Rabbi Walter Homolka, principal of the Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. He described it as a "brain drain" and said Germany was one of the "biggest expat centres".
In addition, many Jews who once might have considered emigrating to Israel - making their Aliya - have in the past few years been choosing to head to Germany instead.
In 2003, for example, 12,383 Jews reportedly chose to emigrate from the former Soviet Union to Israel. But 15,442 went to Germany. The latter country, which had conceived the idea of eliminating Jews altogether just 60 years previously, was more enticing to them than the promised land itself.
Such a powerful wave of immigration has multiplied Germany's Jewish population tenfold from the 20,000 or so at the time the Berlin Wall fell.
But the decision by Soviet Jews to choose Germany over Israel has been cause for serious friction between the two countries. Israel lobbied hard - and ultimately successfully - to persuade Germany to end its generous immigration laws for Jews which encouraged hundreds of thousands to head to the reunited European state after the collapse of communism.
Israel's concern is prompted in large part by the word "demographics", which has become a hot topic in the Holy Land. Israel may define itself as the Jewish state, but more than a million of its citizens are Arab Muslims. They have a higher birth rate than Jews, and many in Israel worry that their country's Jewish identity is being diluted. This has inspired headlines warning of a "demographic time bomb".
For some Jews in Berlin, however, the demographic time bomb is only half of the reason that Israel, on it 60th birthday, is so sensitive to a revitalised Jewish diaspora.
The other factor, they say, is that with Jewish life flourishing, even where it was all but erased by the Holocaust, Zionism's very raison d'être is being challenged.
More and more synagogues, as well as Jewish cafés, museums and schools are opening in Germany, and even in Poland. Amnon Seelig sings in the Munich synagogue choir every Shabbat.
"Israel is in a really difficult position with immigration now, because people ask 'what is the role of Zionism today?'," said Rabbi Homolka. "The Jewish community in Berlin makes the argument that it is valid to stay here, in Germany."
In fact for Jews in Germany such as Amnon Seelig, or Anita Zadig, whose family moved to Germany from Donetsk in what is now Ukraine, Israel has a very clear role. Both described it as a "safety net" - a place of refuge to which they could run if the horrors of European anti-Semitism emerge again.
Otherwise, they say, they will stay away, in part put off by a life in Israel which even Rabbi Homolka concedes can be "so stressful". For Israel has come to define itself above all as a place of sanctuary for Jews, even in its most hostile neighbourhoods. From concrete walls advertised as anti-terror devices to secretive bombing missions on Syrian military facilities, its protective prowess is legendary.
In 60 years, Israel's political leaders and military planners no doubt hope that peace will have broken out and that they won't have to conduct such missions. But you can bet that they won't let their guard down in the meantime.
The fact that so many Jews have chosen to move to the home of the Holocaust instead of Israel seems to show that such inspirational, bloody-minded endurance comes at a high price.
After all, even at the darkest moments, Amnon Seelig's grandparents knew that Israel should be about building more than just a bunker. [SOURCE, Telegraph UK]
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