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The influential Israeli diaspora

Israel/Palestine
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At a panel on Israel yesterday at the University of Pennsylvania, Ian Lustick and Max Blumenthal spoke about how many Israeli Jews are gettin out of Dodge.

Blumenthal said (at 22:00) that Israel’s doomsday-and-apartheid political culture is causing the enlightened young to flock to more sophisticated places overseas.

Listen to Netanyahu hyping up the Holocaust to create political space for war on Iran… and you look at the reaction of young Israelis…[Leftists in Berlin have] rejected this doom and gloom from Netanyahu, they want light and justice.

We hear about how many Jews will leave Israel if there is a one-state future, he said; well, they’re leaving now. There are now 1 million Israeli expats, only Mexico and Sri Lanka have higher percentages of citizens living abroad (about 14 percent).

Lustick said the number is probably closer to 600,000 but he said these are the privileged people on whom Israel depended: Ashkenazi liberals moving abroad and staying abroad. And Israel deals with it, by encouraging, say, a New Jersey dentist to keep his practice here while commuting to his family in Israel.

This brings me to two recent reports on Israeli Diasporans in the U.S., in the media line.

Yesterday, Ali Abunimah reported that the Egyptian coup regime has hired a Washington p.r. firm with connections to the Clintons and Israel, including an exec who served in the Israeli Defense Forces and then worked for Bill Clinton and Al Gore as an advance man.

Last week, the Glover Park Group (GPG) filed lobbying registration forms with the US Department of Justice, stating that the firm will “provide public diplomacy, strategic communications counsel and government relations services” for the Egyptian regime headed by General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, The Hill reported.

As Middle East Monitor points out, a managing director of GPG is Arik Ben-Zvi.

“Ben-Zvi served in the Israeli Defense Forces and received his degree in History and Political Science from Tel Aviv University,” according to GPG’s website.

He also served as the “chief communications consultant on national and local elections in Israel, Bulgaria and the British Virgin Islands.”

Now this Israeli works alongside Carter Eskew and Dee Dee Myers, leading Clintonites.

And last week The New York Times’s Jennifer Miller reported on a N.Y. schmooze artist named Jonathan Levy who runs a salon in his spacious Upper West Side apartment that brings the influential to dinner parties. The piece was slightly mocking: “Want to Meet Influential New Yorkers? Invite Them to Dinner.”

Levy’s parents are Israeli artists who lead a binational life and list a New York address. They divide their time between an erased Palestinian village that’s now an Israeli artists colony and Central Park. Per the Times, their daughter is binational: she “is a hip-hop fusion artist who lives in New York and Tel Aviv.”

Her brother Jonathan, who “works in digital marketing at the publishing company Rodale,” likely has Israeli citizenship; he surely has the option of living in Israel. But he seems to prefer life as a media influencer in the diverse U.S.

Jennifer Miller quotes a friend saying Jonathan Levy “trawls” for influential people at Cannes and Burning Man.

In the advertising and start-up worlds, an influencer is a person, product or campaign that gets everyone else talking, tweeting and buying. Mr. Levy has a somewhat grander, if more abstract vision: He believes that bringing a diverse, influential community together will inevitably lead to collaborations that, he says, have the potential to “change the world.”

Thriving in American diversity, Jonathan Levy is.

And by the way, according to Pew, there are more Jews who live in the US (5,690,000) than in Israel (5,610,000).

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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11 Responses

  1. seafoid
    seafoid
    October 18, 2013, 12:13 pm

    If you were a thinking person would you want to live in Bibistan? Imagine having kids idf prepped from age 4. Imagine the parent teacher meetings. And all with side dishes of paranoia and provincialism.

  2. annie
    annie
    October 18, 2013, 12:19 pm

    oh my , that “artists who lead a binational life” link, the youtube video..is just…they live in ayn hawd! http://mondoweiss.net/2013/10/excerpt-blumenthals-loathing.html

  3. October 18, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Let us look at facts – shall we. Israeli emigration vs immigration.

    This was always a problem in the difficult country like Israel. This is why I laugh at those who call us colonialists. Tough climate, tough neighborhood, miriads of better places to go – US, Canada, Australia, South America, in the past South Africa.

    We are refugees not colonialists. The country used to be (and still is) very hard place to live economically and simply dangerous. Boys serve 3 years in the army and girls 2 years. “Wasting” their best years.

    We are here because we love Israel. Actually majority of my colleagues could have had much better positions abroad (I resigned from a prestigious US place to return ). Same with essentially all high tech people or medical doctors or nurses, etc, ets. And some of course do. Many do but the fact is that many more stay. We just love thiscountry. It is our home.

    Historically there were especially hard times in 30ies, early 50ies, after the Yom Kippur war in 70ies (atmosphere of doom and gloom after the perceived “failure in the war) and in the lost decade in 80ies. And, by the way always our enemies looked at these periods at us and “celebrated” our rapid coming disintegration. Bad luck guys – it never happened. Israel has beed and is very good at learning from its own mistakes and correcting them in times much shorter than other countries. Our learning curves are much steeper.

    What happens now with emigration? Rapidly raising prices of the real estate, food and entertainment cause lots of grief among young couples who cannot get to own their own apartments or houses, can compare food prices with other countries via (they were always much higher as I saw in my many travels but there was no easy way to see this info) or see how more expensive say a bottle of a bear is. So here is a lot of talk about youth emigrating. But not because of the political situation. Blumenthal is wrong on that . Again I see hope in the eyes of our enemies. Don’t hold you breath – we managed to reach 8 mln from few hundred thousands in late 40ies.

    Here are some facts
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerida#History

    1. Estimates of the extent of emigration during the period of the first and the second immigration wave range between approximately 40% (an estimation made by Joshua Kaniel) of all immigrants and up to 80–90%. In the latter part of the fourth immigration wave, during 1926–1928, the mandatory authorities recorded 17,972 Jewish immigrants and 14,607 Jewish emigrants.[3]
    2. In 1980 the Jewish Agency studied emigration to the United States and estimated that there were 300,000 to 500,000 Israelis living in the United States, mainly in New York and Los Angeles.
    3. Emmigration reached a peak in the 1980s, especially after the 1983 Israel bank stock crisis. In 1984 and 1985, more Jews emigrated from than immigrated to Israel.[6]
    4. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development calculated an ‘expatriate rate’ of 2.9 persons per thousand, putting Israel in the mid-range of expatriate rates among the 175 OECD countries examined in 2005.
    5. Between 8,000 and 15,000 Israeli expatriates live in Germany. Practically all of them reside in Berlin.[31]
    About Berlin – this is a new and exotic destination http://www.jta.org/2011/07/05/news-opinion/world/israeli-expats-flocking-to-berlin-for-the-culture-and-the-passport
    “Many Israelis come to Berlin for the same reasons that young people all over flock to this city: It is Europe’s hippest capital, a magnet for young artists, musicians and writers from around the world.
    But the Israelis also are coming to Germany because it’s a relatively easy country from which Jews can obtain a second passport: To be eligible, they must have a parent or grandparent who was persecuted by the Nazis. Once they have a German passport, they can live anywhere in Europe.”

    But not for political reasons as Blumenthal and this blog try to represent.

  4. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    October 18, 2013, 1:32 pm

    “We hear about how many Jews will leave Israel if there is a one-state future, he said; well, they’re leaving now.”

    What do you mean “if”, white man? They are living in a one-state situation (with the same as its likely future) NOW. And a few don’t like it. too bad it’s so few, and too bad the complaining is not publicized.

  5. Cliff
    Cliff
    October 18, 2013, 3:00 pm

    In the advertising and start-up worlds, an influencer is a person, product or campaign that gets everyone else talking, tweeting and buying. Mr. Levy has a somewhat grander, if more abstract vision: He believes that bringing a diverse, influential community together will inevitably lead to collaborations that, he says, have the potential to “change the world.”

    What the hell does this mean? Honestly.

    Can someone translate this PR garbage?

  6. yrn
    yrn
    October 18, 2013, 3:25 pm

    “And by the way, according to Pew, there are more Jews who live in the US (5,690,000) than in Israel (5,610,000).”
    check your resources……

    Israel growth -148 thousand inhabitants: New Year’s Eve 2013 appointed Israel’s population 8.081 million people – 6.066.000 million of them Jews, Arabs -1.67 million, and approximately -345 000 defined as “other.” According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, published today (Monday .)
     
    The data indicate that 75.1% of the population are Jews, 20.7% Arabs and population are “others”, which Arab Christians, other religions and no religious affiliation at the Interior Ministry, is 4.2%. Since the head last year, reported CBS Israel’s population grew by 1.8%, a figure similar to previous years.

    Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
    http://www.cbs.gov.il/publications13/yarhon0913/pdf/b1.pdf

  7. Walid
    Walid
    October 18, 2013, 3:27 pm

    I don’t think Israelis are leaving because they are afraid of the 1ss, the Iranians or of any other Arabs. Most probably leaving simply for better social or economic opportunities elsewhere. Nothing to be shocked about as nobody has proven that Israel is the one and only place to be; the proof is in half the world’s Jews refusing to live there.

    As to Egypt hiring a PR firm, I always wished that Palestinians would hire a good American PR firm to polish the gruff image they and Israel has been projecting of Palestinians. The stuttering Erekat never helped on that. At one point, the Palestinians had a great spokesperson and an articulate one for a change, Diana Buttu, a Palistinian-Canadian. A shame she is no longer officially involved.

    • kayq
      kayq
      October 18, 2013, 11:45 pm

      I agree with Walid but then this goes to show that Israel is not the best place for Jews, as the Israeli govt makes it out to be

  8. Krauss
    Krauss
    October 18, 2013, 4:59 pm

    There are today 6 million Jews in Israel. And Pew openly admits that there are different ways to calculate the number of Jews. Your number is their more strict one. If you take the method which previous national Jewish survey’s have taken on, it’s closer to 6.5 million Jews. But the trend is the same, Israel’s Jewish population will inevitably surpass America’s.

    In fact, without Israeli-American Jews, they’d done it already.

    As for the emigration issue, the vast majority of Israeli Jews go back after a few years. Lustick was right that you’d have to be careful with the wishful thinking along the lines of “see, we’re right, they’re fleeing Israel!”.

    Most of the people going to Berlin or America do so because in Berlin it’s A) much cheaper to live and B) better employment opportunities. Plus you can milk the state for welfare benefits much easier than in Israel, a fact quite a few Israelis ‘fess up to doing. America speaks for itself, but these are mostly elite Jews like Levy or people within the startup world, academics and so on. Not your average Mizrahi working-class Jew.

    If you look at long-term emigrants it’s actually quite small.
    Ynet did a piece on this:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4440265,00.html

    Granted, the author has an ideological agenda and it’s not as rosy as he suggests, but I’ve checked his numbers and they are correct. The Israeli diaspora is large, but it is also mostly temporary in nature and it is revolving. Many of them often visit Israel multiple times a year and after a few years, no more than a decade, typically resettle.

    As Blumenthal said during his discussion with Lustick, most Israeli Jews are far happier than most Americans. The only people beating them are welfare countries with a mostly Northern European population(Northern Europe, obviously, Canada, Australia and so on). That level of happiness belies the “we’re fleeing because we’re terrified” narrative.

    • yrn
      yrn
      October 19, 2013, 5:44 am

      Krauss
      Why spoil the party.
      that’s the only issue that makes Israel haters here happy that “see, we’re right, they’re fleeing Israel!”
      let them have it, as all other wishful thinking Israel will disappear in 2 years (heard it for the last 50 years already).

  9. October 18, 2013, 5:02 pm

    Let us look at facts – shall we. Israeli emigration vs immigration.

    This was always a problem in the difficult country like Israel. This is why I laugh at those who call us colonialists. Tough climate, tough neighborhood, miriads of better places to go – US, Canada, Australia, South America, in the past South Africa.

    We are refugees not colonialists. The country used to be (and still is) very hard place to live economically and simply dangerous. Boys serve 3 years in the army and girls 2 years. “Wasting” their best years.

    We are here because we love Israel. Actually majority of my colleagues could have had much better positions abroad (I resigned from a prestigious US place to return ). Same with essentially all high tech people or medical doctors or nurses, etc, ets. And some of course do. Many do but the fact is that many more stay. We just love thiscountry. It is our home.

    Historically there were especially hard times in 30ies, early 50ies, after the Yom Kippur war in 70ies (atmosphere of doom and gloom after the perceived “failure in the war) and in the lost decade in 80ies. And, by the way always our enemies looked at these periods at us and “celebrated” our rapid coming disintegration. Bad luck guys – it never happened. Israel has beed and is very good at learning from its own mistakes and correcting them in times much shorter than other countries. Our learning curves are much steeper.

    What happens now with emigration? Rapidly raising prices of the real estate, food and entertainment cause lots of grief among young couples who cannot get to own their own apartments or houses, can compare food prices with other countries via (they were always much higher as I saw in my many travels but there was no easy way to see this info) or see how more expensive say a bottle of a bear is. So here is a lot of talk about youth emigrating. But not because of the political situation. Blumenthal is wrong on that . Again I see hope in the eyes of our enemies. Don’t hold you breath – we managed to reach 8 mln from few hundred thousands in late 40ies.

    Here are some facts
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerida#History

    1. Estimates of the extent of emigration during the period of the first and the second immigration wave range between approximately 40% (an estimation made by Joshua Kaniel) of all immigrants and up to 80–90%. In the latter part of the fourth immigration wave, during 1926–1928, the mandatory authorities recorded 17,972 Jewish immigrants and 14,607 Jewish emigrants.[3]
    2. In 1980 the Jewish Agency studied emigration to the United States and estimated that there were 300,000 to 500,000 Israelis living in the United States, mainly in New York and Los Angeles.
    3. Emmigration reached a peak in the 1980s, especially after the 1983 Israel bank stock crisis. In 1984 and 1985, more Jews emigrated from than immigrated to Israel.[6]
    4. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development calculated an ‘expatriate rate’ of 2.9 persons per thousand, putting Israel in the mid-range of expatriate rates among the 175 OECD countries examined in 2005.
    5. Between 8,000 and 15,000 Israeli expatriates live in Germany. Practically all of them reside in Berlin.[31]
    About Berlin – this is a new and exotic destination http://www.jta.org/2011/07/05/news-opinion/world/israeli-expats-flocking-to-berlin-for-the-culture-and-the-passport
    Many Israelis come to Berlin for the same reasons that young people all over flock to this city: It is Europe’s hippest capital, a magnet for young artists, musicians and writers from around the world.
    But the Israelis also are coming to Germany because it’s a relatively easy country from which Jews can obtain a second passport: To be eligible, they must have a parent or grandparent who was persecuted by the Nazis. Once they have a German passport, they can live anywhere in Europe.

    But not for political reasons as Blumenthal and this blog try to represent.

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