I promptly asked, “What’s the situation?” Our shared patrimony obviated any need for further elaboration; as a European Jew addressing an American one, he knew exactly at what I was aiming. “There is no future for Jews in France,” he said.
As you know, I recently returned from Jerusalem. While I was there, I had many opportunities to talk with thoughtful Israelis on the subject of their country and its mission -- no subject seemed more dear to them. Some of them were not only thoughtful but professional historians and philosophers, who discussed Zionism from a position of personal conviction. Some were immigrants, Jews born elsewhere but who had taken advantage of Israel's open offer to all Jews everywhere to 'come home' -- the term in Hebrew means 'to go up.'
Right now the figures are tiny. 7,000 Jews out of a population of a half a million might not even interfere much with natural replacement. But I heard Natan Sharansky -- a genuine hero of anti-Communism, a man who stood firm in the prisons of the KGB on charges of being an American agent -- say that immigration from the First World was, for the first time in Israel's history, the leading source of immigration.
The people I spoke to clearly believe, and I see why they think they are right, that Israel is the only home for the world's Jewish population. They clearly believe, and I think they really are right, that having the option to resort to Israel is key to the safety of Jews everywhere.
Now, I'm not a Jew, but as long as I live I can say that Jews will be safe within the realm of my right arm. I suspect many Americans would say the same, and so perhaps this place may long be a place where they can linger, if they wish.
In another way, I'm sorry we do not have what they have: a Númenor to their Undying Lands, our ancient home now sunk in the sea, a place to which we as they might withdraw if our values came under a similar assault.
There is no such place for us. We have only the sword.