The other day Weiss responded to a piece in Commentary by Daniel Gordis that said that if Iran got the bomb, Israel would cease to represent a transformation of Jewish history. Weiss said America represents that transformation. One of the more substantive comments was from Wondering Jew, a regular commenter who often takes issue with views on this site.
History is a genie that cannot be put back into the bottle by Mister Gordis or by Phil Weiss.
There are at this time two relevant Jewish transformative communities: Israel and America.
A balanced reading of the history of the years 1920 to 1945 reveals that had America not closed its gates to a trickle, the Jewish population of I/P would not have multiplied from 85,000 in 1920 to 400,000 in 1939, thus achieving the critical mass to build a state-to-be including a military force. Obviously the years 1939 to 1945 cannot be erased from the history books either and the nearly universal Jewish empathy for the state born in 1948 (including Jerome Slater, but not Norman Finkelstein’s mother) cannot be erased either.
Mutually Assured Destruction is not an assuring prospect no matter the sanity of one’s foe and particularly when apocalypse plays a role in their theology. Still an attack by Israel on Iran would be unwise and a type of admission that the ingathering of the exiles was a mistake.
There are in fact two relevant Jewish communities of transformation and they are both America and Israel. America was the destination of choice of the overwhelming majority of Jews exiting Europe in the years 1882 to 1920 and remained the destination of choice even when it was no longer a possible destination because of American immigration rules. If there had been no Israel to lobby Congress about, the sole purpose of the American Jewish community would have been the elimination of prejudice and quotas, which was more or less achieved by the year 1968 or so. And the sole purpose of most American Jews would have been to change their name from Bernie Schwartz to Tony Curtis and marry Janet Leigh and sing White Christmas.
But history did not deliver only one transformative experience for the Jewish people, but two, including Israel, where a Jewish language was reborn and is spoken, and where people don’t need to use Google to find out what an etrog is (a common saying in Israel when someone needs to be handled with great delicacy involves the word “etrog” and even those who wouldn’t think of shaking the palm and citron, know what it is.)
So there is no neat dichotomy of either/or regarding the two communities of America and Israel.
(As far as Europe: Europe only exists today as the beacon of tolerance and atheism and nonmilitarism as a result of the umbrella/occupation that was provided/imposed by the United States, so even if there is now a growing community of Jews in Berlin, that is a tribute to America.
(At least half the world is still sufficiently focused on nationalism so that the internationalism of Europe, which is a facade which will crumble as the numbers of nonwhites increase to the levels that are approaching in America, will prove to be a source of humor sometime in the next 90 years. So the dreams of the 60’s of nationalism as a thing of the past is still a dream and not only to Zionist Jews and Arabs and Persians, which covers most of the Middle East.)
A smaller Jewish community in Israel would not be such a terrible thing if not for the demographic battle. And even a reduced Jewish community in Israel would represent a historic milestone of transformation that occurred in the last century. It is a Jewish community with a much more diverse color content (including “Mizrachi” Jews) than the American community, much more aware of words like “etrog” and speaking Hebrew and celebrating Jewish holidays if only as the days when the banks are closed. Obviously Jerusalem is much more relevant to Jewish tradition than Brooklyn or Miami or Brookline.
The battle/struggle with the Palestinians is not near to solution and that struggle with the Palestinians is the worthy purpose of this blog, (even though I feel that the outlook of this blog is dangerously naive ). But to label American Jewry as the sole transformative Jewish community is beyond the scope of this blog and truly an overstatement combined with a cavalier attitude towards history and Jewish tradition.