Alwaght- Israeli regime's Education Minister Rafi Peretz declared in a cabinet meeting intermarriage among diaspora Jews – particularly those in North America – is “like a second Holocaust”.
This is not the first time the Israeli officials are voicing concern about the Jews’ intermarriage. However, the reactions to the issue at home and abroad are far from similar. To get a clear picture of the issue, beside the Jewish population, the postures of various political parties on Judaism and Jewish identity needs to be examined.
The education minister of the new cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew parallels between Jewish intermarriage and Holocaust mainly because over the past seven decades, the Israeli regime lost millions of potential people. Peretz said the assimilation of Jews around the world and mostly in the US was “like a second Holocaust,” and also said that, due to intermarriages in the last 70 years, the Jewish population “lost 6 million people.” A number equal to the number of Jews killed in the so-called Holocaust by the Nazi Germany government.
The total population of the Jews around the world by 2018 was estimated to be 14,511,000. This number is 22 million with the consideration of the non-Jewish members of the Jewish families. 43 percent of the Jews live in the occupied Palestinian territories. The US with 39 percent and France with 3.5 percent are the second and third countries with the largest number of the Jewish population.
The Jewish intermarriage was first raised as a concern by the Jewish People Policy Institute that was founded in 2002 in al-Quds (Jerusalem). According to Axio news website, recently Dennis Ross, the chairman of the JPPI, has presented the Israeli cabinet with a report on the status of the Jewish population around the world. Globalization on the one hand and assimilation with other cultures through intermarriage or other cultural contacts on the other hand posed serious challenges to the Israeli regime’s population policies. Among the various Jews, the Orthodox Jews do not believe in a state of Israel. They argue that to return to the “promised land” the Jews should wait for “divine order.”
Ben Gurion, Israeli Regime’s first Prime Minister, took pains to persuade the extra conventional Jews to migrate to occupied Palestine. He promised cultural independence to Haredi Jews marked by independent religious schools. The figures show that the Haredis and nationalist Zionists account for 12 to 14 percent of the population of the occupied territories. Beside stand the secular Jews. Eva Elvaz, a sociologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, states that what currently unites the Israeli community is the title of Judaism. However, continues Elvaz, there is a definition of Judaism as broad as the Israeli population and this keeps widening every day.
The Israeli leaders and strategists are worried about the downturn in the Jewish population, and specifically the population of the US Jews, for two main reasons.
1. Tel Aviv takes advantage of the Jews of countries influential in the global and West Asia policy as lobbying power for its own interests. The Jewish population in the occupied territories is 7 million, a little bit more than the Jews of the US. Jeune Afrique, a French-language pan-African newspaper published in Paris, suggests that there are 281 Jewish organizations and 250 regional pro-Jewish unions in the US. American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) with over 100,000 members is the most powerful pro-Israeli lobby in the US politics, with the stated goal being supporting the Israeli security and raising generations advocational of the Israeli regime. The lobby reportedly has so far spent over half a billion dollar on promoting its goals in the US.
2. The Israeli regime is founded on racism and a political and Zionist reading of the religious texts that put the Jews in the center of a hardline ideology. So, a decrease of the Jewish population is understood to be an existential threat to the Israeli regime. The Israeli cabinet in a report deemed the Jews’ intermarriage a “national strategic threat” and in an $800 million promotional campaign asked the Jews to warn their “friends and relatives” of the danger of intermarriage. The intermarriage gradually leads to a decrease in the blind support to the idea of a Jewish state and an increase in the humanitarian view of the Palestinian cause that is subjected to the Israeli oppression.
Support for Israel has dropped 27 percentage points among Jewish college students in the US since 2010, a study released by Brand Israel Group at the Herzliya Conference revealed in 2016.
According to the research, in 2010, 84% of US Jewish college students leaned toward the Israeli side of the conflict with the Palestinians. But in 2016, only 57% did, believing Israel falls short with values such as human rights, tolerance and diversity.
In addition, Jewish college students grew increasingly supportive of the Palestinians, with a jump from 2% in 2010 to 13% in 2016.
Meanwhile, the right-wing parties are the most concerned as they find population drop playing in the hands of the rival non-religious parties. The new education minister, recently replaced Neftali Bennett of the New Right party, is from the United Right party. Like many Orthodox Jews, he believes that the Jewish identity is a matter of religion but the seculars argue that legacy and culture determines Judaism. However, his brazen remarks amid a cabinet formation crisis are not accordant with the interests of the Likud party that finds its existence in the Israeli politics in coalition making. Netanyahu tried to downplay the internal and external consequences of Peretz’s racist remarks, saying that concerns about the Jewish population drop are motivated by the US Jews’ political dispositions.
According to the mid-term elections results, the Democrats added 40 percent to their votes to win the House of Representatives. A couple of days ago, a joint poll conducted by The Economist and YouGov institute on the 2020 presidential elections in the US showed that the Democratic candidates have a 47 percent support while the Republicans’ support dropped to 38 percent. So, Netanyahu finds the most instant effect of the shift to the Democrats the impairment of the pro-Israeli lobby in the re-election of Donald Trump, something leaving much of the PM’s plans incomplete.