Because, should there ever be resurgent anti-Semitism in the US, American Jews can flee to Israel. If you don’t think that’s an important component of what animates part of the American Jewish community, you don’t know enough about the American Jewish community. I brought this up in another forum a long time ago, and a sympathetic reader, a Jew, pointed out that this motif is the concluding one in the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., which I have not visited. American Jews, some of them, are hedging their bets.
Yeah. What he said. I've heard this from multiple people, including from one friend of a friend who strongly identified as Jewish but whose mother was not Jewish by birth, who was converting to Orthodox Judaism for this very reason -- so she could qualify for Israeli citizenship in case, as she said, things got unsafe for Jews in America. This absolutely floored me. Not because I don't believe there's anti-Semitism in the US -- although I have a seriously hard time imagining a situation in which it becomes so widespread or so politicized that American Jews are in a flee-the-country situation, I get it, historical fatalism runs deep, I don't think it's the best tendency to nurture, but far be it from me to tell Jewish people to forget their history -- but because this strikes me as a seriously unhealthy and weird thing to base your relationship to and opinions about Israel on. There are plenty of reasons to support Israel, but "if our fellow citizens of a multiethnic, pluralistic state start randomly hating us for our religion/ethnicity, we can always retreat to this enclave built to serve as a haven for our group" strikes me as, uh, the wrong attitude to take? Am I allowed to say this?