Letter to the Editor: ‘Diaspora’ Is Hardly A Pejorative by the Forward

Letter to the Editor: ‘Diaspora’ Is Hardly A Pejorative

To the Editor:

Jane Eisner’s April 19 essay “It’s Time For Israel To Recognize That Diaspora Jews Are Already Home” correctly underscores the necessity to alter the framework for dialogue between Israel and world Jewry to an internal family discourse about the meaning of Jewish peoplehood. I disagree about dropping the term “Diaspora,” which is nowhere near as pejorative as “Exile” and does suggest some difference between historical homeland and wherever Jews happen to be living. More importantly, I believe that it is the prospect of mutual disinterest in one another rather than conflicting values and ideologies that poses the single greatest danger to our sense of common peoplehood, notwithstanding the realities of tangible disagreements over politics, religious pluralism, immigration, etc.

Letter | ‘Diaspora’ Is Hardly A Pejorative

I do have one factual correction with respect to AJC history: Eisner writes that the 1950 Ben-Gurion/Blaustein Agreement concerning neither party claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish people was “quickly abandoned.” In some measure that is true, as evidenced by the Eichmann trial as Israel claimed the right to capture and try Eichman because of his crimes against the Jewish people. But it would be more accurate to say “this aspect of their agreement was quickly abandoned”. Other aspects, particularly the assertion of mutual responsibility, advocacy for political support for Israel within the U.S., and changing the language of aliya from fleeing anti-Semitism in America to Israel’s need for American Jews’ expertise and talents became cornerstones of American Jewry-Israel relations for many decades. Whether they remain so at present, of course, is highly debatable.

Steven Bayme, Ph.D

National Director, William Petschek

Contemporary Jewish Life Department

American Jewish Committee (AJC)


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Letter to the Editor: ‘Diaspora’ Is Hardly A Pejorative

Thank you!

This article has been sent!