The Israeli government’s latest decision—concerning the cancellation of the western wall agreement, closing the current egalitarian section at its southern end, and the controversial legislation on conversion, preventing a sizable block of Jew-wannabees from joining the faith, is a fateful mistake that has generational implications. It is a serious blind spot characteristic of the Jewish religion (when it lets itself be monopolized by its extreme orthodox faction), which contributed, throughout history, to its minority status and isolation in a world filled with anti-Semites and Israel bashers.
Years ago, I discussed Religion with a colleague of mine, a devout Christian. I asked him to elaborate on the key difference between Christianity and Judaism. My colleague was well schooled on the topic. He immediately dived into the teachings of Jesus and the issue of his acceptance (or rejection by Jews) including the associated rewards in the afterlife.
“I don’t think that this is the key difference.” I interrupted. My colleague looked confounded. He believed he had made a bullet-proof case. How could I dismiss it so bluntly?
“The real difference is,” I stated, “Marketing.”
“Marketing”? He did not get it.
“Christians believed in proselytism,” I claimed. “Christians were able to become a world’s major religion by marketing their faith quite rigorously, persuading people to come and join them. They did so by catering to people’s longing for a better life, if not on Earth, then in Heaven. This “Marketing” strategy was very successful,” I claimed. “Islam, in contrast, used violence and intimidation, forcing people to join their faith,” I added. Then, too, Islam became a major world religion. “But, Jews, on the other hand, made it extremely difficult for any gentile-born individual to join their faith.” I paused, watching the assenting expression on my colleague’s face, then continued. “Judaism turned into a minority faith. Consequently, Jews were pushed-around, terrorized, murdered, shoved down to the bottom of the pecking order by followers of the other major religions.”
Israel needs friends. Israel needs supporters. In a world where anti-Semites, Iranians and Arabs from across the Middle East seek to wipe it off the map, Israel cannot afford becoming isolated. Friendly democratic governments are elected by people whose hearts beat to the rhythm of the Israeli drums.
Can you imagine having Judaism as one of the world’s major religions? Can you imagine having a world comprising 1.6 Billion Jews rather than 16 Million, a majority of whom not only would have supported the Jewish state, but would have considered it as part of their heritage? Could you fancy how anti-Semitic movements would have been pushed down the peck and stepped on? Could you picture the power derived by this vision?
However, the latest decision by the Israeli government is painting a picture, which does the opposite. It excludes and alienates diaspora Jews or more than half of the already small Jewish population; it also further obstructs and prevents other non-Jews from joining the team—our team, leading to further weakening of the Jewish state and its world-wide’s support.
The Israeli government must be aware that letting a minority sect of orthodox religious extremists paint the entire Jewish state in their black colors will only bring about disastrous consequences to the future of Israel.
Please Bibi, do not let it happen. Reconsider your government’s latest decisions, then change them.