Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel gave an interview to the Times of Israel, in Tel Aviv, last week and said that Jews are a majority in Israel chiefly in Tel Aviv, and have given up on settling other parts of the country.
When I was growing up, [coming here] obviously two days after the [start of the] Six Day War, [there was] the sense that we were going to explore, and go everywhere, from Beersheba in the Negev to Kiryat Shmona and everything between, and Jews are going to be everywhere. We’re going to go and populate the land of Israel. Today, you have gone from a nation-state to a city-state, where everybody’s coming in to Tel Aviv and Jews are not even a majority in certain parts of Israel or even near a majority. And that’s a different thing, as somebody that watched it in 1967, to where it is in 2017. As we come to the 70th anniversary. That’s just an observation.
Emanuel has a larger (and self-serving) theory about this: that cities everywhere have taken over from nations as the corporate entities.
Here’s why I actually wanted to become mayor. People feel that the nation-state we grew up in, me and you, is no longer what it was before. It’s not operable. Mayors, cities, have something that nation-states don’t have. They have legitimacy.
The mayor of London has more legitimacy than the national government does with the British people. The mayor of Paris has more legitimacy than the national French government, and more legitimacy than [the European parliament in] Brussels.
The interview is also remarkable because while Emanuel insisted on the prevalence of anti-Semitism in modern society, and said he was surprised by the reemergence of neo-Nazis in the U.S., he acknowledged that Jews have never been so powerful as they are in the U.S. today and are less likely to be the victims of such intolerant movements:
If you look at Jewish history, never has the Jewish community been more influential, more powerful, in the history of the Jewish community in America…
I never thought that we would see neo-Nazis. Not just neo-Nazis. Explicit language of hatred toward whether it’s African-Americans, Mexican-Americans or those aspiring to be Americans. I never thought of it. Not in my lifetime.
And I believe as a Jewish American — I’m an elected official — we are of more influence economically, politically, culturally, than in any other place in the world in world history, in our own history as a people. And the reason I didn’t include [American Jews] in [my point about] African-American and Mexican-American or aspiring Americans is because we [American Jews] are in a position to be righteous..
We, as American Jews — the reason that I did not put the Jews in America as being victimized — not that there’s not anti-Semitism, that, trust me, I know. That’s not what I’m talking about. But we are in a position of influence, unlike other people [being targeted] and we have a responsibility, given the journey we as Jews have taken, the journey we as American Jews have taken to use our position of power for those who are powerless. To use our position of comfort for those who are uncomfortable. To use our position of security to provide safety and security to those who are not. That is our responsibility.
The mayor was very careful not to make headlines in the interview. But he did say that the Clinton peace talks had made life better for Palestinians. Or anyway, for Israelis:
You had some cooperation that you could never have had before. You did not have a signing agreement, but you do have some elements of a bilateral relationship, some elements of peace. So, as an outsider I would say you’re in a better place, but I want to be careful. It’s not for me…
This mashup of ideas — Jews in the U.S. are the most powerful Jewish community in the history of the world; they have an obligation to advocate for the undocumented and refugees and African-Americans; the Jewish state has shrunk to Tel Aviv; Palestinians are the majority throughout most of the land — seems to me to have an inevitable conclusion. Jews should start pushing for democracy in Israel and Palestine. They’d have to abandon Zionism to do so.