The Challenge of the Diaspora

The Challenge of the Diaspora

Ninth Biennial Congress
Brussels 2002


For the last two thousand years Jewish values and hopes were built on the perception that the Diaspora was a malediction, and redemption will come with the return to Zion. The creation of the State of Israel has radically transformed the world of Judaism. Living in the Diaspora is no more fate, but choice.

Instead of a symbol and an idea to be attained in the future, Israel became a concrete reality with all the possible colors and shadows of an existing society. Judaism, both in the Diaspora and in Israel needs to reinvent itself, its sense of history, its collective goals, and its place among the nations.

We need to confront the challenge of recreating Judaism, both in the Diaspora and in Israel. What is the meaning of the Diaspora for Israel, of Israel for the Diaspora, beyond the limited horizon of the Middle East conflict?

We believe that the bond and values that relate Jews to each other should not be based on the dangers of the external world. However, in spite of the fact that Jews in present time enjoy freedom and equal rights in democratic secular societies, we are facing increasing anti-Semitic manifestations.

In recent years, anti-Semitic manifestations have resurfaced. Recent developments have shifted the center of anti-Semitic propaganda to the more extremist and fanatic elements of the Muslim world. In the past year, especially after September 11th, escalating anti-Jewish propaganda and violence has increased the feeling of vulnerability of many Jewish communities.


We, the members of the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews, recognize that the challenge of the Diaspora is the challenge of developing a renewed vision of the Jewish heritage, culture and history, and its place and relation to the nations of the world.

We, as Secular and Humanistic Jews, believe that racism should not be fought with racism, hate should not feed hate; that a peaceful existence can come only with respect and dialogue.

We are deeply distressed by the proliferation of new manifestations of
anti-Semitic propaganda, and condemn it unequivocally.

We condemn the hateful anti-Jewish propaganda that flourishes in radical elements of the Arab and Muslim world, in its schools, media, and mosques. We appeal to the moderate forces of Islam to oppose this message of hate.

Although we support the right to criticize the policies of the Government of Israel, we condemn the manipulation of this criticism to express anti-Jewish attitudes and commit anti-Jewish acts.

We appeal to the world’s people of good will to oppose prejudice of any kind and to join in the struggle against anti-Semitism and racism in any form.

We appeal to all governments to take every possible means to prevent racist attacks through greater surveillance and the strengthening of democratic institutions, values and education.

Finally, we call on all Jews, regardless of affiliation or philosophy, to fight prejudice and racism in any form.