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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

So, How Diverse Is Israel?

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In the US, Jews are often perceived to be mostly religious, Caucasian and wearing black hats with curls hanging from the side of their head.

But when it comes to reality, Americans may find Israel to be a place of diversity that rivals (if not surpasses) New York City itself.

( But there is a fairly significant paradox involved in defining the Jewish people as an ethnic group. The Zionist view of a people that includes all Jewish communities around the world (an outlook that merits trendy opposition from the left) is certainly one of the most multiethnic and multicultural national attitudes in history. When you see the Jews of Poland and the Jews of Yemen, the Jews of Germany and the Jews of Morocco as members of one people, and establish a country based on this national view, that is essentially a multiethnic and multicultural enterprise, whether or not the participants think in those terms.

After being fortunate enough to visit the holy land years ago, the item that struck me most about the Jewish state was how diverse it was.

While I did encounter Jewish citizens who wore both the hats and the curls, they were often a rarity, unless of course one was able to visit the Old City of Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem I met Ethiopian Jews, European Jews, and yes, even Chinese Jews! This encounter helped break down my previous perception of Israel, as I noticed how friendly the people were, regardless of their national, religious and/or ethnic background.

Hopefully more Americans will be able to visit Israel in the future, as it is a multicultural testament on how people from different backgrounds can live together in relative peace.

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