People without a land
By A.B. Yehoshua

Just before I entered the hall for the symposium in Washington that inaugurated two days of discussions on the future of the Jewish People in light of the century that has passed since the founding of the host organization (the American Jewish Committee), my youngest son phoned from Israel and told me about how moved he was by the memorial ceremony, in which he and his wife and toddler daughter had just taken part, for the fallen of Israel’s wars. I made a brief comment to the panel’s moderator about the fact that the symposium was taking place on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, and I hoped that, amid the many congratulatory speeches at the start of the evening, this would be noted and that we might also all be asked to honor the Israeli Memorial Day, as customary, with a minute of silence. But this didn’t happen. And Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, due to be marked the following day, received only faint and brief mention from the speakers.

I do not cite this as a grievance, but rather as a symptomatic example that may also explain my gloomy state of mind at that symposium, given that the deep and natural identification that a large portion of American Jewry once felt with Israeli life has been steadily and seriously weakening in recent years. All of the participants in the subsequent discussions agreed that, for some years now, a slow process of disengagement of American Jewry from Israel has been intensifying. The reasons are numerous and complex, and relate both to the fact that the “Israeli drama” has lost many of its attractive features for American Jews, and to the accelerated processes of assimilation occurring to varying degrees within America itself.