What would you call a politician who said that the “national homeland” of French or American or Argentinian Jews was not France or the U.S. or Argentina, implying that they were properly part of another nation with its own homeland (and therefore not really part of the French, U.S. or Argentinian nation)? I don’t know about you, but I’d call him or her an anti-Semite.
What then to make of Israel’s foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s concern that “Israel is being delegitimized as the national home of the Jews”? Livni instructed Israel’s diplomatic representatives abroad to emphasize this idea when dealing with foreign governments. I’d politely but firmly suggest that those governments would do better to ask their own Jewish citizens and those of other Diaspora countries what they consider their “national home,” and respect the answer.
And the same goes for Ehud Olmert telling French Jews that they should “come home.” I’m sorry, but if it’s not acceptable for a French leader to say that the home of the Jews is not in France, then why is it acceptable for an Israeli leader to say so? Not only does it promote the anti-Semitic belief that Jews are somehow alien and maintain a loyalty to a different state; it actually is an anti-Semitic belief itself. Call it Zionism, if you like, to maintain that Jews don’t belong any place outside of a Jewish ghetto. I call it anti-Semitism, and it deserves to be as harshly denounced when it comes from Olmert as when it comes from Le Pen.
It’s time the Israeli leadership grew up and got used to the that Israel is the national home of its citizens, and those who chose to become its citizens, not of the rest of us. Two thirds of Jews choose not to live there now, and I don’t imagine that changing in the foreseeable future. Israel is not my “national home” — Judaism is not a nationality. Nor does Israel have any right to speak on my behalf. For anyone, Jewish or otherwise, to tell me that Israel is my “national home” is to strip me of my citizenship. Which is what I expect from anti-Semites.