by Steve Israel
Bringing together the various threads of this discussion, we can review the implications in the following way.
The state of Israel-Diaspora relations today is extremely complex and has many strands.
One major reason for this is that it has become a relationship between two real and substantial entities. As real entities, both Israel and the diaspora have many achievements to their names, but carry many problems. The relationship between two societies with very real problems is different in essence to that which existed for so much of Jewish history in the pre-modern era, between a real Diaspora and an Israel portrayed in mythical terms, either in terms of a distant historic past or of a messianic future.
Myth and ritual were (and are potentially still) highly effective tools for building a relationship with Israel as the great centre of Jewish life. This model was seriously challenged only with the advent of the modern age, in the era of emancipation and freedom for western Jewry, and further again with the rise of Zionism. We can suggest that Zionism continued that mythification of Israel by presenting it in the most highly ideologised and idealistic terms.
At a certain point, however, it is inevitable that reality should break through the myths, and it is this realisation that has compelled the search for more complex models of relations between Israel and the Diaspora. There are indications that such new models are beginning to emerge and that, perhaps for the first time in Jewish history, a true dialogue based on respect and awareness of differences is beginning to develop between Israeli thinkers and representatives, and Diaspora leaders. It is certainly needed.