The Balfour Declaration - Are the Celebrations Justified?
Is the State of Israel truly the homeland of the Jewish People?
The news is filled with this week with ceremonies and articles about the Balfour Declaration which was issued in 1917 and was perhaps the first time a major world power invited the Jewish people back to their ancient homeland after they went into exile millennia ago.
While we wouldn’t minimize the significance of this document in galvanizing Jews to return to Israel, it’s just as important to focus on the substance of the Declaration: Is the State of Israel truly the “national home for the Jewish people?”
Israel has truly seen miracles in its 69 years of existence. Physically, it has gone from being a Ottoman backwater into becoming a member of the OECD, with a high standard of living, its own defense forces, developed agriculture, successful economy, and developed industry. Spiritually, it also is a powerhouse.
When we check Israel’s record of aliya, we see that hundreds of thousands have come — when they were fleeing political persecution in North Africa, Iran, and Russia and economic disaster in South America. Where are the hundreds of thousands of Jews from western countries who are living lives of comfort and ease? Why aren’t they returning to their “homeland”? With all Israel’s success, it is almost impossible to budge more than a tiny percentage of these Jews to make aliya.
Israeli Shortcut confronts this failure every day. Israeli Shortcut was founded to help the many thousands of foreign Jewish residents living in Israel who are already here and trying to make a go of it. Our organization helps them navigate the sisyphic Israeli bureaucracy, protects them from unreasonable demands, and tries to emend the legal lacuna that put them in limbo. We view each case of a Jewish foreign resident who goes back to his land of origin as a failure of the system.
While there are undoubtedly many reasons for this failure, it shows that the State of Israel does not yet desire and has not yet shown readiness to absorb Jews to its national Jewish homeland as proposed by the Balfour Declaration.
Instead of engaging in celebrations and making raucous. empty declarations, let us roll up our sleeves, get to work and make this country a place that every Jew will feel is his homeland and will long to move to.