When I was a young teenager growing up in New York, Israel announced the Gaza disengagement. As a Modern Orthodox Jew, I couldn’t believe that the State of Israel would forcibly expel the thousands of Jews from their homes.
My family and friends demonstrated, wrote letters to Israel’s consul general and took out full page ads in Israeli newspapers, to little effect. That August in 2005, we watched in tears as entire families were forced out of their homes.
Despite the feeling of betrayal, it never crossed our minds to boycott Israel nor its government. We accepted it, and I, in addition to many of my friends, moved to Israel and served in the IDF, where we reside today.
With the latest Kotel controversy raging, what rankles many Israelis is the arrogant entitlement expressed by segments of American Jewry. Despite not living here, serving in the army or paying taxes, they expect that their Jewish birth merits them equal say in the inner workings of Israeli society. It is understandable that members of the Reform and Conservative movements would like government recognition at the Kotel. What is not understandable is the flood of vitriol the Israeli government’s decision has unleashed. Some wealthy Jewish Americans have warned of boycotts should Israel not succumb to their wishes.
These are the same Jews who constantly proclaim that Israel’s democratic values are more important than its standing as a Jewish state. But basic democracy means that the people living here have the final say, and any way you look at it, Reform Judaism hardly exists in Israel.
What would transpire should the Reform demand that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate accept pork as kosher in order to comport with the views held by the majority of diaspora Jewry? Would rejecting this demand also be considered “a slap in the face to world Jewry”?