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For American Jews, "Our Destiny Is Here," Not In Israel, States Prof. Leonard Glick

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
July-August 1999

Challenging the "Birthright Israel" plan endorsed by major Jewish organizations to provide thousands of college-age students with subsidized visits to Israel, Dr. Andrew Glick, professor of anthropology at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, declares that this "is emblematic of what is lacking in Jewish American life today. Projects of this kind perpetuate the self-deprecating concept of America as just another part of ‘the Diaspora’ and of Jewish Americans as a tangential and historically inconsequential population. Why should young Jewish Americans, indoctrinated by programs of this kind to think of Israel as the proper focus of their loyalty and attention, conclude that their foremost concern should be the fate of the Jewish American community?"  

Writing in The Forward (June 11, 1999), Dr. Glick declares: "We are not living in a vaguely defined no-person’s-land called ‘the Diaspora.’ We are in America, and our destiny is here. Jewish Americans, religious and secular alike, are the principal heirs of a 1,500-year European Jewish history and legacy, and, for better or worse, it has fallen mainly on us to maintain, extend and appropriately interpret that legacy for the society in which we live . . . We are Jewish Americans, not Israelis, and our foremost goal should be to endow our young people with pride in their Jewish American identity and determination to preserve it."  

Dr. Glick concludes that, "Rather than sending students to Israel or anywhere else, we might do well to invest more of our resources in educating Jewish Americans of all ages in our European Jewish and Jewish American history, and in the meaning and purpose of Jewish identity in the American context. Cultural pride and self-respect, personal commitment and communal unity will grow best in foundations provided by solid understanding of our own past and our place in the world. For most Jewish Americans of every age that place is America, and we would do well to recognize and act on it."  

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