A vast majority of Israeli Jews – 76 percent – said they believed it is safer to live as a Jew in Israel than in the Diaspora, with only 10 percent choosing the Diaspora as being safer, according to a recent survey.
My first thought was, “Of course they think it’s safer – they’re surrounded by propaganda!” And I do think the study is flawed; out of those surveyed, how many of them have lived in both Israel and the Diaspora? If they’ve only ever lived in Israel, how could they really know? Also, how many of those surveyed are Holocaust or pogrom survivors? Obviously you’re going to have a skewed perception of Europe if the last time you saw it you were outrunning soldiers.
But some very interesting questions arise when you start to interpret the numbers. Is Israel safer than the US? Well, I’ll admit I’m the one who wrote about SoCal neo-nazis the other day, but I think the difference is probably too low to have any real statistical value (especially when you throw the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and threats from Iran into the mix). Is Israel safer than other countries in the Middle East? Obviously I can’t speak for Mizrahi Jews, but I’ve heard enough stories of institutionalized antisemitism that I’d wager it probably is. Is Israel safer than Europe? France, as Brown Shoes points out, is one of the better places to be a European Jew, but it still has its problems. And I haven’t heard many flattering things about Poland or Lithuania lately.
It also makes you wonder about the relative perks of assimilation versus cohesion. Is it safer to be a fully integrated member of a larger culture or to stake out autonomous territory? Both carry some dangers; on the one hand, someone who’s “passing” can always be “outed;” on the other hand, war usually has a pretty high casualty rate, I hear tell.
So such a study has the potential to reveal some pretty important information about Jews’ safety worldwide. I’m just disappointed that they decided to keep it so simplistic; that ensures that the results remain inconclusive.