Are You a Zionist?
He also noted the following: "There were years when the term &Zionism" was used with double quotation marks, giving the word a negative overtone. Instead of describing modern Jewish nationalism and its embodiment in the establishment of a new society and Yishuv in Eretz Israel, and later in Israel, Zionism was considered outdated and annoying. There were also those who claimed that Zionism had reached an age when it should be making its exit from the world stage. The events of recent decades, especially in the USSR, and the aliyah of close to one million Jews from this country (before and after its break up), however, have proved that Zionism is still in the flush of youth and has much to contribute."
Salai Meridor pointed out in Zionism that the name of the game of Israel and the Jewish people is demography. It was estimated by experts that Israel needs at least 100,000 Olim annually in order to preserve its Jewish majority in this century and the essence of Israel as a Jewish state, as well. He wrote in his article: "It is estimated that there are some 13 million Jews in the world today. If you were to ask Jewish demographers how many Jews there will be in another 50 years, ultimately the answer would be: Between 12 and 18 million." To make a distinction, in 1939 there were some 18 million Jews in the world and in 1945, 12 million. In another 50 years we may again be in a situation where the fate of six million Jews is hanging in the balance. Three factors, more then anything else, will determine whether we are closer to 12 million or to 18 million: the size of the Jewish family, Jewish education, and aliyah to Israel.
There is little we can do with regard to family size in the Diaspora: due to the influence of society. In Israel, however, we can definitely alter the situation by implementing a social-economic policy which would aid families wishing to have three or four children, but whose economic circumstances do not allow it. For this reason, we need to create a social structure in Israel which will provide equality between the sexes and self-fulfillment, as well as the option of establishing a family. The second issue is education. Israelis are highly critical of education in Israel and of the material their children are taught in the Israeli education system. But the real problem is in the Diaspora: 50% of Jewish youth abroad do not receive any kind of Jewish education, and only 25% go to Jewish schools. This may be the reality, but it is vital and this cannot be overstated - to strengthen Jewish education there. Diaspora Jews are calling out to Israel: "Help us save our children," but Israelis do not grasp the fact that this problem is their problem too." Meridor expressed, in Zionism, his utmost objection of any proposed change in the historic 1951 "Law of Return." As to potential aliyah, Salai Meridor, Chair of the Jewish Agency, expressed optimism as to potential massive aliyah from the West and from North America. By the way, Yitzhak Shamir keeps arguing that this is not just an illusion.
Meridor wrote: The natural growth of Jews in Israel, without aliyah or yerida, stands at 1.2% and this is high in relation to other Western countries. However, the natural growth of the non-Jewish population in Israel stands at 3.2% a difference of 2% a year. This is an enormous gap, and in order to bridge it, and to preserve the existing ratio between Jews and non-Jews in Israel, we must bring at least 50,000 ohm to Israel every year.
In the past year we have managed to do this, but this figure cannot be sustained for long, when three out of every four people making aliyah to Israel come from the former Soviet Union. The Jewish community there is aging and thinning out, and as far as can be predicted, by the end of the decade, no more than 20,000 olim will be arriving each year.
This still means some 300,000 olim in ten years; but where do we find another 200,000? We must turn our minds and our hearts to the West - towards Europe, and especially France; to South America, especially Argentina; and eventually also to North America.
In certain Western countries there is a window of opportunity for bringing Jews, which we must take advantage of. The State of Israel must devote thought and resources to the question of bringing more Jews to Israel from these countries. Otherwise, how can we assure our children and ourselves that in another thirty or forty years the State of Israel will continue to be a Jewish, democratic country.
Planning the Future is a Must
In the State of Israel there is sometimes, unfortunately, a dangerous disparity between intentions and deeds, between energy invested in the long term and energy into which we are all drawn by the activities and threats of the short term. For that reason the Jewish Agency is trying today to lead a campaign of policy planning for the Jewish people, recruiting good minds and hearts throughout the Jewish world, so that, ultimately, we may establish an institute which deals with policy planning for the Jewish people. This initiative will provide today's leaders and decision-makers with a perspective of where the
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