Yonaton Touval’s op-ed “Israel’s identity crisis” raises the difficult question of how to define Jewish identity. One can be Jewish without being observant, or for that matter without being religious at all. Neither is the issue a question of race, for Jews have no genetic particularity. We don’t have a common language, nor even a common culture, and the approximately 130 different nationalities present in modern-day Israel certainly offer sufficient proof of our heterogeneous origins.
There is no Jewish nationality, neither in its older definition of being interconnected by a common history and destiny, nor in its modern meaning, that of being united by a common territorial and political entity.
And so we are a people. A kind of family, held together not uniquely by the memory of an ancient religion, but belonging the one to the other in virtue of our very identification with the Jewish people.
Jabotinsky focused on the Jewish connection to Israel. “No person can remove our rights to this land,' he declared. “The only thing that can take away our rights is if we forget them.”
Jews have a right to the land of Israel under international law, a fact that too few Israelis are aware of, he said.
When asked if the state of Israel was created due to international guilt over the Holocaust, he replied, “Israel was created in spite of the Holocaust, not because of it.” International recognition of the Jewish people's right to reestablish its homeland began decades earlier, he noted.
Minister of Education Gidon Saar and Vice Minister Silvan Shalom spoke about issues regarding the Palestinian Authority, and in particular, the PA's threat to go to the United Nations in September for unilateral recognition of a PA-led Arab state in Judea and Samaria.
Both agreed that the PA is likely to enjoy an automatic pro-Arab majority in the General Assembly, but that Israel stands a chance of getting a “quality minority” to oppose the measure.
Saar and Shalom also discussed their latest political initiatives, such as Saar's plans for educational reform and cheaper schooling, and Shalom's hopes to move Israel to a Saturday-Sunday weekend.
The conference was brought to a close by local Likud activist Daniel Tauber, who called on those present to be politically active. Tauber quoted Jabotinsky's Anthem of Beitar, saying, “Silence is despicable, it leads to a loss of flesh and blood.