Magazine article The Futurist

The Future of the Jews and Israel: An Optimistic Vision; an "Imagineered" Future Offers a Positive Outlook for Jews, Israel, the Diaspora, and Peace with the Muslim World, as Well as a Glimpse of What Measures Might Be Taken to Realize This Vision

Magazine article The Futurist

The Future of the Jews and Israel: An Optimistic Vision; an "Imagineered" Future Offers a Positive Outlook for Jews, Israel, the Diaspora, and Peace with the Muslim World, as Well as a Glimpse of What Measures Might Be Taken to Realize This Vision

Article excerpt

Why am I optimistic about the future of the Jews? Because our globalized world enables the Jewish people to relate to the twenty-first century as a period when one's Jewishness will no longer be a burden or barrier, or constitute a sacrifice.

If we have the wisdom, this could be the century in which Jewish individuals will be able to realize their human potential without sacrificing Jewish ambitions, and to realize their Jewish potential without sacrificing their human ambitions. As a people, Jews are well prepared by virtue of education, temperament, and proven historical adaptability to embrace the challenges of the twenty-first century. Two thousand years of prevailing in the face of constant discrimination have prepared the Jews, perhaps more than any other people, to take advantage of the opportunities of this globalized world. Never before have the Jews lived in a civilization so amenable to their temperament and survival skills.

THE JEWS TODAY

Any evaluation of Jewish life must begin with the extraordinary success of the Zionist project in the twentieth century. Zionism and Israel have dominated the Jewish landscape for as long as any of us can remember. Their successes, failings, inadequacies, and promise have stood at the center of Jewish discourse for a century. What has Zionism accomplished for the Jews and Israel?

* It has established a state that has become part of the world community, despite Arab hostility.

* It has created a vital and highly developed economy, despite what some researchers estimate as $44 billion of economic harm caused by the Arab boycott since the establishment of Israel.

* Israel has been slowly integrating into the region over the past two and a half decades, despite intifadas and wars. Formal peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, as well as informal diplomatic and economic relations with several North African and Persian Gulf countries, are proof of this. Even the tortured, stuttering, mutually painful and ongoing interaction with the Palestinians since the Oslo accords bears witness to a changed reality. Who would have thought 20 years ago that the debate in both camps would not be about whether there should be a two-state solution, but about what the borders should be?

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Yet, despite their support for Israel, most American Jews are indifferent to fundamental Zionist arguments and unimpressed with Israeli intellectuals and politicians preaching the classic Zionist message. Unlike for nineteenth-century European Jewry, Zionist arguments have had little significance for the American Jewish experience.

As the largest, wealthiest, and most-powerful Diaspora community in Jewish history, American Jewry can and should create a coherent ideology of what defines American Jewishness and redefine itself to play a special role in the creation of a new Judaism and a new Zionism.

REINVENTING ZIONISM AND ISRAEL-DIASPORA RELATIONS

The ideology, policy, and strategy of Zionism in the twenty-first century must be to provide a framework for the optimal self-actualization of the Jewish individual.

There is no single objectively definable "Jewish people." There are, however, many real individual Jewish persons. There is no objectively definable "Jewish problem." But there are millions of individual Jewish problems. The preoccupation with the optimal self-actualization of the individual Jewish person is the precondition for the physical and cultural success of the collective Jewish people.

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When the modern Jew--whether Israeli or of the Diaspora--asks, "Does classical Zionism resonate with meaning for my own life, for the experiences I undergo and for the challenges I must face?" the answer is most often a resounding No! Can an ideology truly address the problems of a collective unless it is meaningful for the living individuals who constitute that collective? …

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