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Forged Passport Scandal Is Called Illustration Of Israel’s Attitude Toward Jews Abroad

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
November-December 1997

In the wake of the failed Israeli attempt to assassinate a Palestinian leader in Jordan in which forged Canadian passports were used, Prof. Yakov M. Rabkin of the Université de Montréal, states that this scandal "raises the danger that the state of Israel and Zionism represent for diaspora Jews."  

Writing in The Montreal Gazette (Oct. 18, 1997), Rabkin points out that, "One of the two forged Canadian passports was in the name of an employee of the United Israel Appeal, the principal Zionist fund-raising organization channeling to Israel millions of dollars. This cast suspicion not only on Canadian Zionists but on individual Jewish Canadians. A colleague asked me jokingly whether I would have sold my passport to Mossad."  

Zionists, Rabkin writes, "view Jews as nationally distinct from the ambient population, as potential citizens of the state of Israel. In this sense, they share the usual anti-Semitic views of the Jews as aliens in their countries of residence. Conversely, Jews in major contemporary diasporas tend to see themselves as French, Italian or American nationals. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, they alongside non-Jewish fellow citizens, worked to strengthen the liberal ethos, and are prominently active in opposing ethnic and religious discrimination. They promoted the concept of the Jew as a full-fledged citizen of his country, not an alien anxiously waiting to flee to Israel. These two views of the Jew clearly clash, even though the intensity of the clash has been often obscured for sentimental and political reasons."  

In Rabkin’s view, "Israeli officials tend to convey the impression that Israel owns Jews from other countries . . . Many Jews have emotionally, and some even politically, mortgaged their future to the state of Israel. For them Zionism and Israelism have become a new religion, supplanting traditional forms of Judaic identification. This substitution portends a variety of dangers for Jewish continuity."  

Israel’s "social and political norms often conflict with liberal practices common in most industrialized countries," states Rabkin, who spent the 1996-97 academic year in Israel. "For example, no Western country identifies someone as Jewish in any state documents. It is up to the individual Jew to identify himself as such if he so desires . . . The Israeli identity card, that every resident is obliged to carry, identifies the bearer as a Jew or a non-Jew. This facilitates overt discrimination, which is a structural trait of Zionism and of Israeli society since its early days . . . Aggressive nationalist rhetoric emanating from Israel embarrasses not only Jews but also Judaism."  

Rabkin concludes: "Jews should relearn to live their Judaic values independently of the state of Israel and the nationalist pride it so easily imparts."

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