Go'el's Aliyah Book Club!
WITH FRIENDS LIKE YOU ... What Israelis Really Think of American Jews
By Matti Golan (former editor of Haaretz)
Here's the Publisher's Weekly Review (which will be followed by Go'el's):
Israeli journalist Golan asserts that American Jews have no right to criticize Israel, for it is the Israelis, and not the Americans, who face destruction every day. American Jews, he charges, are in danger of total assimilation and are preoccupied with Israel's image in the U.S. media. Claiming that American Jewish philanthropic aid to Israel is corrupt and humiliating to recipients, he urges diaspora Jews to make investments in Israel instead of sending charity. He also labels Reform and Conservative Judaism diluted and ersatz. Attacking Elie Wiesel for speeches that allegedly encourage American Jews to stay firmly settled in the U.S., Golan calls for the emigration of two million well-trained American Jews to Israel, a move that he claims would greatly improve Israel's security. Written in the form of an angry, pointed dialogue between an Israeli and an American Jew, this provocative book airs strong opinions that Israeli Jews seldom express so openly about their American coreligionists.
When I was first given this book - by an Israeli friend - to read, when I was still living in the U.S. (Baltimore), I read through the first 30-40 pages and was mildly fascinated by the author's assertion that American Jews think they are helping Israel more than they actually are. And then I put the book down. Then, it was more than 3 years until I picked it up and read it again. What a mistake! By the time I read the entire book, we had already made Aliyah. But it sure as heck would have happened faster had I read this book cover-to-cover when I had first received it from my friend.
The book discusses not only that Americans spend too much time patting themselves on the collective back for "helping Israel" by visiting, buying products and donating to Federation, but MORE importantly, Golan makes the case that the only way Americans can REALLY help Israel is by, you guessed it(!), making Aliyah!
Now granted, had I read this book three years earlier, I would not have been in the U.S. to witness the perfect season of my beloved St. Joe's Hawks, led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, but then again, perhaps that's not as important as living in the land promised to our forefathers!
Here's how I rate this book (1-10, with 10 being best):
1. READABILITY: 8, especially once you get past the first 50 pages or so
2. RELIGIOUS JUSTIFICATION FOR ALIYAH: 3 - Golan, a secular Israeli himself, generally stays away from the halachic arguments for Aliyah, but in some ways, that makes the book more powerful
3. PRACTICAL ALIYAH ADVICE: 1 - No real tachlis help here.
4. INSPIRATION TO MAKE THE BIG MOVE: 7 - If Jews respond to guilt, we're going to have a lot more folks walking down those El Al steps at Ben-Gurion Airport after reading this one! But the book lacks the heart and soul elements to make it a 10
OVERALL RATING: 7 - READ THIS BOOK! It's available on Amazon.