Are young Australian Jews growing deaf to the siren call of Israel? Is Zionism on the nose? A bit of a bore maybe? Are there no Fishmans or Alhadeffs in the wings, ready to run with the latest Israeli talking points?
How else to explain the appearance of the following NSW Jewish Board of Deputies' advertisement in the latest issue of The Australian Jewish News:
Unique Mission to Israel
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, in conjunction with HonestReporting, announces an
Advocates Mission to Israel: November 26-December 4, 1912
*Hear what's really going on in closed-door briefings with highest-level experts from all key sectors
*High profile meetings with ministers and MKs
*Confidential and private briefings
*Eight nights accommodation at the luxurious five-star David Citadel Hotel, within minutes walk of Jerusalem's Old City and city centre
After all, despite the movement's constant conflation of Judaism with Zionism,* you'd be mistaken to fall for the lie that they are one and the same. That old standby, History, tells us that Zionism's grip on Jews cannot be taken for granted. Shoring up the willing suspension of disbelief and capacity for selective vision required for the production of true believers takes some prodding and priming, as this most interesting report from the Sydney Jewish News of 9 October 1953 makes clear:
"Zionist leadership in the Diasporah had 'fallen down badly' in spreading the message of Zionism to World Jewry in general and to Jewish youth in particular, Major Samuel Weiser said in Sydney last week. 'Australian Jews must realise that Zionism no longer is the weekend hobby to which it has degenerated,' he declared.
"Major Weiser, an emissary of Menachim Begin, is visiting Australia to raise funds for widows and orphans of Irgun Zvai Leumi members killed in the Israel War of Liberation. He is also trying to interest Jews and non-Jews to make capital investments in Israel's economy. During his recent tour of Victoria, Major Weiser raised about 7,000 pounds for the Keren Tel Hai Appeal.
"In Sydney last week, London-born Major Weiser said World Jewry's apathy to Zionism was one of the tragedies of Jewish life since the re-creation of the State of Israel. He added: 'I have not come to Australia to preach Revisionism or to attack the Israel Government. My views on these matters are well known. I have come to Australia to advocate a re-orientation and revitalisation of Zionist leadership. Australian Jews must be told that Judaism is Zionism and that Zionism is Judaism. The two are indivisible. It must be made clear that charitable collections and general fund-raising - whilst of valuable assistance - cannot be relied upon as a source of maintaining forever the economic and strategic security of Israel. The State of Israel was not created as a refuge for Jews fleeing from persecution; the establishment was paid for with the priceless blood of our youth. And if nothing else, it is Zionism's greatest duty to preserve our one great asset and treasure - the youth of World Jewry. It is they who must be taught either by their fathers, their rabbis or by their Zionist leaders that we can no longer be as we were - a people without a land - but must be a land with a people.'
"Major Weiser said during the last 5 years the people of Israel had carried a tremendous economic burden; they were willing to continue to do so if they could see that Jews outside - for whom the State was created - would 'come forward' to shoulder the burden, by assisting in the development of the State, either through capital investments or through personal effort. 'The people of Israel look towards Jews throughout the entire world to assist them in the upbuilding of the State. This requires the vision, foresight, courage, and wisdom of all our people and, above all, their faith that Israel alone offers the solution to the age-old Jewish question. Zionism is no longer the weekend hobby to which it has degenerated; World Jewry must realise that mere fund-raising will not overcome the dire needs of Israel.'"
I'll spare you the rest of the old Irgun terrorist's spiel, but on quite another subject, namely Zionism's influence in the Australian mass media, check out the final paragraph of this SJN report: "During his two weeks in Sydney, Major Weiser made a number of broadcasts for commercial stations and the Australian Broadcasting Commission." (Quoted in Sydney's Jewish Community (1951-1953), Dr Hans Kimmel, 1955, pp 225-26)
[*Here's one of the latest variations on the theme: "I am a Zionist because I am a Jew and without recognising a national component in Judaism, I cannot explain its unique character as a National Liberation movement for the Jewish people." Gil Troy]