Perhaps historians or cultural anthropologists surveying the course of human events can identify for us a land, in addition to Palestine, where such a large percentage of a recently arrived colonial population prepared to exercise their right to depart, while many more, with actual millennial roots but victims of ethnic cleansing, prepared to exercise their right of Return.
One of the many ironies inherent in the 19th century Zionist colonial enterprise in Palestine is the fact that this increasingly fraying project was billed for most of the 20th century as a haven in the Middle East for "returning" persecuted European Jews. But today, in the 21st century, it is Europe that is increasingly being viewed by a large number of the illegal occupiers of Palestinian land as the much desired haven for returning Middle Eastern Jews.
To paraphrase Jewish journalist Gideon Levy "If our forefathers dreamt of an Israeli passport to escape from Europe, there are many among us who are now dreaming of a second passport to escape to Europe.
Several studies in Israel and one conducted by AIPAC and another by the Jewish National Fund in Germany show that perhaps as many as half of the Jews living in Israel will consider leaving Palestine in the next few years if current political and social trends continue. A 2008 survey by the Jerusalem-based Menachem Begin Heritage Center found that 59% of Israelis had approached or intended to approach a foreign embassy to inquire about or apply for citizenship and a passport. Today it is estimated that the figure is approaching 70%.
The number of Israelis thinking of leaving Palestine is climbing rapidly according to researchers at Bar-Ilan University who conducted a study published recently in Eretz Acheret, ("A Different Place") an Israeli NGO that claims to promote cultural dialogue. What the Bar-Ilan study found is that more than 100,000 Israelis already hold a German passport, and this figure increases by more than 7,000 every year along an accelerating trajectory. According to German officials, more than 70,000 such passports have been granted since 2000.
Every year, Israel loses more Jewish population to Europe and to the US than it gains.
In addition to Germany, there are more than one million Israelis with other foreign passports at the ready in case life in Israel deteriorates. One of the most appealing countries for Israelis contemplating emigration, as well as perhaps the most welcoming, is the United States. Currently more than 500,000 Israelis hold US passports with close to a quarter million pending applications.
During the recent meetings in Washington DC between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's delegation and Israel's US agents, assurances were reportedly given by AIPAC officials that if and when it becomes necessary, the US government will expeditiously issue American passports to any and all Israeli Jews seeking them.
Israeli Arabs need not apply.
AIPAC also represented to their Israeli interlocutors that the US Congress could be trusted to approve funding for arriving Israeli Jews "to be allocated substantial cash resettlement grants to ease transition into their new country."
Apart from the Israeli Jews who may be thinking of getting an "insurance passport" for a Diaspora land, there is a similar percentage of Jews worldwide who aren't going to make aliyah. According to Jonathan Rynhold, a Bar Ilan professor specializing on U.S.-Israel relations, Jews may be safer in Teheran than Ashkelon these days--until Israel or the USA starts bombing Iran.
Interviews with some of those who either helped conduct the above noted studies or have knowledge of them, identify several factors that explain the Israeli rush for foreign passports, some rather surprising, given the ultra-nationalist Israeli culture.
The common denominator is unease and anxiety, both personal and national, with the second passport considered a kind of insurance policy "for the rainy days visible on the horizon," as one researcher from Eretz Acheret explained.
Other factors include:
The fact that two or three generations in Israel has not proven enough to implant roots where few if any existed before. For this reason Israel has produced a significant percentage of "re-immigration" -- a return of immigrants or their descendants to their country of origin which Zionist propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, is not Palestine.
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