The Jewish Security Dilemma

The al-Aqsa intifada of autumn 2000 and the ensuing war of attrition have brought security back to the center of the Jewish agenda and have decisively shaped the ongoing process of mutual renegotiation of identities between Israeli and American Jews. Recent political and security developments have clarified the indivisibility of Jewish security within and outside Israel, as well as the inextricable link between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity. Recent efforts to equate Zionism with racism and to deny the legitimacy of the State of Israel and the connection of the Jewish people with the land of Israel have revived the kinship dimension of the Middle East conflict, involving and implicating Jews worldwide in Israel’s political struggles. At the same time, the increase in the intensity of political violence in the Middle East and the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States have thrown into stark relief the ties between anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. The second intifada has motivated Israel to articulate a desire to expand the security role of its Jewish kin in the United States in ways that may empower Diaspora voices on the most fundamental issues of boundaries and sovereignty. This shift may call into question the core of the traditional Zionist vision, which always gave supremacy to the sovereign state over the Diaspora. It also has the potential to broaden the concept of national security beyond state frontiers.

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