One of Israel's most celebrated novelists [AB Yehoshua] has been denounced by American Jews for questioning the depth of their faith and suggesting they would swap their national allegiance as they would swap a jacket.In his speech, from what Conal Urquhart reports, Yehoshua is railing against diaspora Jews for being to open to assimilation:
I am what I am. I have a language, I have a people; like the Dane; like the Norwegian. I cannot be Danish. I cannot be Norwegian.....This is interesting. In France, Jews can become assimilated but the French cannot. This is saying that Jews can only be French by ceasing to be Jews. This is saying that Jews cannot be French. But the French are the people of France, whether Jewish or not. In French society assimilation might be considered to be a question of internalising the language and the culture but the question of the assimilation of Jews anywhere is about the abandonment of the Jewish identity. I'm neither advocating that nor condemning it but is that necessary to be French? I would say that it is not.
In Israel there will never be a question of a Jew becoming assimilated just as there is no question of Frenchman being assimilated in France.'
And what about Jews and Israel? Why will there never be a question of a Jew becoming assimilated in Israel? Israel is a state with a territory under its rule with many Jews and many non-Jews. What is to stop them or what is stopping them from assimilating to each other as different ethnicities can assimilate to each other in France? There are many aspects of the French identity I am sure, but the only objective criteria surely is territorial. But it is not territorialism that makes a Jew a Jew and surely, unless there are racist laws, Nuremberg style, May laws, apartheid laws, and so on, there can be assimilation of any ethnicity in any territory. In cultural/linguistic terms this may mean moving away (consciously or not) from one culture/language to the predominant one but the question of nationality in Europe is a legal issue based on territorial origin or residence, not of ethnicity. The only thing that could make assimilation of Jews impossible is a racist legal framework that most diaspora Jews, indeed humanist opinion, would find intolerable. If this is the case in Israel then AB Yehoshua has owned up to the fact that Israel is indeed an apartheid state with or without the occupation and he is also demonstrating the confluence of zionism and antisemitism by saying that a Jew cannot be of a non-specifically Jewish nationality.