His Brother's Keeper: Israel and Diaspora Jewry in the Twenty-First Century

Yossi Beilin, Author Schocken Books Inc $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4175-4
For five decades, according to Beilin, a longtime Israeli politician currently serving as Minister of Justice, the relationship between Israelis and world Jewry has been clearly defined: Jews in the Diaspora (particularly in the United States) gave money--now in the hundreds of millions annually--to support the struggling young nation and felt complacent about their role; Israelis accepted the donations with a sense of smug superiority because they lived on the front lines, facing war and terrorism. Beilin, best known in the West for his pivotal role in crafting the Oslo peace accords (see Touching Peace, reviewed below), wants to reform this relationship, which he claims is no longer relevant. Israel, he notes, is a technological hotbed whose GNP ranks in the top 10% of the world. The funds raised by Jews outside Israel, he writes, ""would be better used for the welfare of the Jewish world and for Jewish continuity worldwide."" The strongest point of this book is Beilin's frankness in describing the outmoded relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. Among his proposals for crafting a more effective relationship are the elimination of some moribund groups (the United Jewish Appeal's contributions to Israel's social welfare system are superfluous, he argues), a new organizational structure to reflect the fluidity and unity of Jewish life today (as opposed to the old notion that Israeli and American Jewish communities are separate and shouldn't intervene in each other's affairs), the creation of a ""virtual Jewish community"" through use of the Internet and a program (which is in fact already underway) that would offer a free trip to Israel to every young Jew. While this book may offend some who have devoted their lives to supporting and defending Israel, Beilin's words also come as a breath of fresh air. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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