June 21, 2024
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It’s Always a Good Time To Move to Israel

I read with disappointment the article in the May 23 edition of The Jewish Link titled, “Now is Not the Time to Say, ‘Now is the Time to Move to Israel.’” Mr. Starr’s views, while well intentioned, are both inconsistent with the Torah and strategically unwise.

From the Torah/Halacha perspective, the Ramban counts living in Eretz Yisrael as a biblical-level obligation on the individual, one of the 613 mitzvot. Most Achronim hold that the Rambam agrees, perhaps as part of the mitzvah of “hacharem tachariemem” — to wage war against the seven Canaanite nations that inhabited Eretz Yisrael, which would enable us to take possession of and live in it. Suggesting that committed Jews ought to actively decide not to fulfill this mitzvah is thus inconsistent with our obligation to accept all the mitzvot, and with the fundamental idea espoused in Parshat Nitzavim, “בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ,” that the mitzvot are within our capacity to fulfill, with positive effect.

Mr. Starr emphasizes the “myriad connections — familial, economic, cultural — that anchor Jewish communities to lands outside of Israel,” as if to equate these connections with our foundational, nearly 4,000-year-old, divinely-ordained rootedness in Eretz Yisrael. He suggested these diaspora connections compel us to actively work toward securing the long-term viability of diaspora communities. This too runs counter to the Torah and Neviim, which explicitly and repeatedly describe the diaspora as an existence that is a punishment for our sins and is meant to be temporary, and set the return of all Jews to Eretz Yisrael, kibbutz galuyot, as the vision of our future that we anticipate and should be pursuing. Three times a day in Shemoneh Esrei, we say “T’ka b’shofar gadol l’cheiruteinu, asking Hashem for help in ending galut, not in continuing it.

From a strategic standpoint, Mr. Starr assumes that Israel has no future without American support, and thus suggests the way to guarantee Israel’s future security is to focus on ensuring continued American support. He has it backward. American support for Israel is

not guaranteed now, nor will it ever be guaranteed, because Jews remain a very small voting block relative to the population at-large, and America like any other nation will naturally put its own domestic and international interests first.

This has been demonstrated especially in recent times, whether with the congressional approval of President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal despite a full-court press effort led by AIPAC to thwart it; the U.S. government allowing for the passage of U.N. Resolution 2334, which declared the Kotel and any Jewish presence beyond the pre-1967 armistice line as illegally occupied territory; or most recently President Joe Biden threatening the withholding of weapons from Israel for domestic political gain.

In light of this reality, those who are interested in truly guaranteeing Israel’s long-term security should be working to strengthen Israel to the point of ultimately reducing its dependence on American support, such that if that support one day wanes, Israel will be prepared and will have alternative sources of strength to rely on. Any country’s independent strength is ultimately a product of its population size and its citizens’ economic and social productivity, which makes growing Israel’s Jewish population an integral part of truly guaranteeing its long-term security.

Benjamin Horowitz
New York
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