Dennis Ross worked for President Obama on Middle East policy (and for a number of other presidents). He was in the administration because he is beloved by Israel supporters. Now Ross is co-chair of the board of the Jewish People Policy Institute, a Zionist organization based in Jerusalem and founded by the Jewish Agency.
The Times of Israel reports that JPPI has “composed a plan to facilitate immigration” of a quarter of all French Jews to Israel in the next five years.
The plan by the Jewish Agency-affiliated think tank would prepare for up to 120,000 French Jews to arrive in Israel during the coming four years. The plan cited a rise in jihadist terror attacks and a difficult economy in Europe as causes of increased immigration.
But when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called on French Jews to leave France earlier this month, there was anger from the Jewish leadership throughout Europe. French Jews at a synagogue Netanyahu visited in Paris broke into La Marseillaise after he spoke, in a declaration of their patriotism and a rebuke to the idea of leaving France. Yes, many French Jews worry about anti-Semitism, but the leadership doesn’t think leaving is the answer– this group of Orthodox rabbis, for instance.
The call to leave France from Dennis Ross’s thinktank gets at a deeper philosophical disagreement between hard-core Israel supporters and western liberals. Ross’s thinktank appears to be in opposition to the Obama administration on the issue of Jewish integration and assimilation into American society.
JPPI has long opposed Jewish assimilation and intermarriage. This report last year, whose foreword is written by Ross (and former Carter official Stuart Eizenstat), repeatedly refers to assimilation as something that hurts the Jewish community. It calls for “the kind of authentic indigenous vision of Jewish life needed to build recognizable communities and to cultivate levels of Jewish identity necessary to stem assimilation and sustain Aliyah [immigration to Israel].” Ross calls for “full-time Jewish Day School education” for young Jews — indicating that this will stop them from marrying non-Jews.
But at President Obama’s press conference with British PM David Cameron ten days ago, Obama explicitly called for “assimilation” of minority communities:
Our biggest advantage, Major [Garrett], is that our Muslim populations, they feel themselves to be Americans. And there is this incredible process of immigration and assimilation that is part of our tradition that is probably our greatest strength. Now, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t subject to the kinds of tragedies that we saw at the Boston Marathon. But that, I think, has been helpful.
Cameron echoed Obama, and used the word integration:
I very much agree with what Barack says about the importance of building strong and integrated societies. I made a speech about this at Munich a couple of years ago, saying that it had been a mistake in the past when some countries had treated different groups and different religious groups as sort of separate blocks rather than trying to build a strong, common home together. That is what we should be doing, and that is what our policy is directed to.
And, of course, you need to have — as I believe we are — a multiracial, multiethnic society of huge opportunity where in one generation or two generations you can come to our country and you can be in the Cabinet; you can serve at the highest level in the armed forces; you can sit on the bench as a judge. I’ve got in my Cabinet someone just like that, who in two generations his family has gone from arriving in Britain to sitting — that’s vitally important, as is combatting unemployment, combatting poverty.
This would seem to be the way now in western societies, seeking to create diverse, multicultural leaderships.
Opposition to assimilation issue is a central premise of Zionism. Assimilation doesn’t work, they say: Jews will never be safe in western societies. In “The Existential Necessity of Zionism After Paris,” Commentary says that French Jews need Israel because their survival in Europe is in question. Israel saved millions before, it is needed to do so again now that Muslims are all over Europe, Commentary indicates in this piece.
France’s Jews are outnumbered by its Muslims 10 to 1…
Muslim attacks on French Jews increased more significantly still in the summer of 2014, during and after Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza…
Jews should have the right to choose to stay in France or anywhere else on the planet Earth they wish to live, from the center of Hebron to the top of Mount Everest. But the issue is not right but reality. Jews in France—and, given certain trends, elsewhere in Europe, from Great Britain to Scandinavia—have to consider their literal survival…
[Israel’s] existence before the Holocaust would have saved millions. Its existence after the Holocaust saved and created millions. Seventy years after the Holocaust, Jews in Europe are in need of it again.