Isaac Herzog, the chair of the Jewish Agency and former leader of the Zionist left (left, or less extreme right?) in Israel, has declared intermarriage by American Jews a “plague,” with millions of victims:
I’ll tell you a personal story. Last summer I traveled [with my wife] to the USA for a vacation. I graduated from a Jewish school in New York. And we went to meet friends. I have a ton of friends in the U.S.A. And I encountered something that I called an actual plague. I saw my friends’ children married or coupled with non-Jewish partners! And the parents beat their breasts and ask questions, and are suffering. Listen, it’s every [Jewish] family in the U.S.A.! And we are talking about millions. And I said there must be a campaign, a solution. We have to rack our brains to figure out how to solve this great challenge.
Oh the horror! Young American Jews are marrying who they love, not who their parents want them to love. How terrible. What a tragic mistake those young fools are making.
I initially considered Herzog’s remarks not especially significant. After all, some American Jews, particularly older ones, still wring their hands over Jewish intermarriage as well.
But the older American Jews who resist intermarriage largely are a throwback to a different age, unable to recognize that times have changed.
In Herzog’s case, it’s different. It reflects what happens when someone from a racist society weighs in on trends in a non-racist one. Not that America isn’t racist in other ways; it is. But from the perspective of relations between Jews and non-Jews, America pretty much has left its racist past behind.
Jewish and non-Jewish Americans interact with no consciousness of religion. In many cases, couples become intimate before partners even know the religious preference of their counterparts. That’s a reflection not of some increased level of promiscuity, but of the reality that religious preference is of no importance to them.
As well it should be.
When I was younger, I saw friends and relatives lose once-in-a-lifetime relationships because family members shunned their non-Jewish partners. My stepfather married my mom when he was 51 and they stayed happily married for 43 years until his death. That’s great. But prior to that he had two horrendous marriages and countless failed relationships. He told me how the only woman he loved before he met my mom was Catholic. When his parents shunned her, however, he succumbed and ended the relationship.
The bottom line is that it’s hard enough to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. The idea of eliminating 98% of your potential mates simply because their religious roots are different, when neither of you care about religion anyhow, is absurd.
Herzog can’t see any of that, however, because in Israel homogeneity of religion still is paramount, even though most Israeli Jews are secular. After all, you’re not going to persecute an entire population in order to preserve your so-called “Jewish State,” only to have your kids destroy your Jewish state through intermarriage.
If you’re hell bent on sustaining a Jewish state, as Herzog, a loyal Zionist, is, it naturally follows that you’ll see intermarriage by Jews anywhere as a plague. That’s especially true if the group that’s intermarrying is your leading outside support group in the entire world, as the American Jewish community is to Israel.
No matter how much Herzog “racks his brain” he’ll never find the solution he seeks to what he has labeled a “plague” on American Jews. Because it’s not a plague. It’s progress.
And progress, including higher levels of intermarriage, will come to Israel one day too. Ultimately, there won’t be a “Jewish State” in Israel, because the process by which it is maintained is racist and racism eventually fails. As Ali Abunimah has explained, if a Jewish state were moral, the measures needed to protect it if it is threatened (by inter-marriage, differing fertility rates, emigration, or immigration) would have to be moral as well. But the measures that would be required — concentration of non-Jews, expulsions, bans on intermarriage, sterilization — all are categorically immoral.
Which means that Israel declaring itself a Jewish state is no more moral than would America declaring itself a Christian nation.
So the million-victim plague Herzog senses is on Israel, not America.
And Herzog is just one of its many, many victims.