chapter  17
11 Pages

Moral and Symbolic Elements in the Politics of Israel-Diaspora Relations

WithCharles S. Liebman

The diaspora can only hope to influence one or more of the participants in the policy-making process. In general, because Israel and the diaspora confront and interrelate as two significantly different entities, the symbolic status and moral claims of each on the other are of particular importance in determining the politics of their relationships. Symbolic status and moral claims are of special importance because Israel cannot impose its authority on the diaspora and necessarily has recourse to moral and symbolic suasion. Most diaspora Jews involved in activity on behalf of Israel recognize that living in Israel bestows a certain moral authority on Israelis. Diaspora Jewry acquiesces in Israel’s claim to moral authority, although, as we have seen, it interprets that claim differently than Israel. The political interrelationships and effects of Israel-diaspora relations are likely to be affected far more by symbolic and moral claims of each side then by the usual mechanisms of political pressure.