On 23 August 1950, Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Jacob Blaustein, President of the American Jewish Committee, expressed their mutual understanding about the relationship of Israel to Jews in the United States and other free countries. Ben-Gurion’s declaration in the exchange that Jews of the United States owe no political allegiance to Israel was naturally seen as a compromise made for pragmatic reasons by the Prime Minister, known for his belief in aliyah, the ascent of world Jewry to Israel. Observing the exchange from a seventy-year perspective, however, I suggest that Ben-Gurion’s statements were rather consistent with a unique conceptual framework he used as a means for the sovereign state of Israel to gain the support of Jews living in other sovereign states, while reducing the danger that they be accused of dual loyalty. I describe that conceptual framework, which stresses the universal messianic mission of the Jewish state, and raise some thoughts on the implications of its abandonment in Israel in later years.
- Israel-Diaspora relations
- ethnic particularism