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Obviously, Jewish and Israeli are not identical. There are many Jews who live outside of Israel – more than those who do, and there are more than 1 million non-Jewish Israeli citizens. But how separable are the categories of Jewish and Israeli, and what happens when the two identities are totally estranged from each other?
Doron Rosenblum, writing in todays Ha’aretz newspaper provides evidence of the damage done, especially for Israeli Jews, when Israeliness and Jewishness are separated. Claiming the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has forgotten what it means to be Israeli; Rosenblum assails the PM for thinking as a Jew, but not as an Israeli.
Rosenblum’s argument is a tendentious, if artful, overstatement. Parts certainly ring true, but so does the fact that Rosenbloom pulls a reverse Netanyahu — separating Israeli from Jewish in the opposite direction.
At the end of the piece, Rosneblum observes:
Even his past in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit and the way he (Netanyahu) uses various images of “carrying the stretcher” have always sounded somewhat affected and fake when they come from him, like the kind of fond memories of an American Jewish participant on the Taglit-Birthright Israel program.
But hat is merely an external expression of something much deeper. It is not that someone has for gotten “what it is to be a Jew” – it is Netanyahu who has forgotten what it is to be an Israeli, and it is doubtful if he ever really knew.
Rosenblum’s words reflect that the author’s “Israeli-ness” cannot integrate the genuineness of the experience of a PM who was raised largely in the US — talk about a shtetl (Medieval Jewish ghetto) mentality! Ultimately, the piece demonstrates both the real challenge which the author (unwittingly) points out — the dis-integration of Jewishness and Israeliness — and the fact that the problem exists on both the right and the left.