Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz exposes a face of Zionism most American Jews would rather not see and puts into context the controversial Israeli government ad campaign appealing to Israelis to return home from the U.S.:
The main concept of Zionism is that Jewish life, outside of their national homeland, is the life of an invalid. They cannot be truly Jewish life since they lack the national element of Judaism. Jews can only be fully Jews when they live in Israel. An early Zionist writer, Yehuda Pinsker, compared the lives of diaspora Jews to that of the undead, and went further on to say anti-Semitism is a natural response to the unnatural existence of deracinated Diaspora Jews.
Accordingly, Zionism views Jewish life abroad with disdain. This is reflected in the language: A Jew who immigrates to Israel is called an “oleh,” literally someone who transcends; One who emigrates from Israel is called a “yored,” literally someone going down. Hence, the need for an a ministry who will cater to the needs of Jews who “make aliyah” – The Ministry of Aliyah Absorption. Incidentally, it is extremely difficult for a non-Jew to immigrate to Israel.
Israeli Jews, particularly the hardcore Zionists, view Diaspora Jews with thinly veiled contempt, which erupts to the surface from time to time – such as when former President Weizman called upon American Jews to leave the US and come to Israel, and so fulfill their destiny, or when the author A.B. Yohoshua told American Jews in 2006 that “Outside of Israel, Judaism cannot exist. You are dealing with a Judaism of plug and play… You switch identities as you change your jackets… If China becomes stronger than the US, you would all move to China.” This is not particularly new: The Palestine/Israel branch of the historic Zionist movement always considered Zionists living in Israel to be superior to Jews living in the Diaspora, and considered Diaspora Jews not as independent human beings but rather as Zionist building blocks. Nowhere was this more evident that in Ben Gurion’s famous saying, that if he had to choose between a million Jewish children being saved by being sent to Britain or just half of them saved, but sent to Palestine, he would choose the latter. For hardcore Zionists, Diaspora Jews are failures; They can only be redeemed by joining our armed ghetto.
Therefore, the very idea of an Israeli Jew leaving the country and joining the Diaspora is disgusting to Israeli Zionists, particularly the older ones. Former PM Rabin called them “a residue of cowards.” For most Zionists, the idea of an Israeli Jew losing himself and his hard-won identity in the Diaspora, basically spitting on all that Zionism fought for, is loathsome. Hence the ads: They are trying to save Israeli Jews from sinking to the level of “regular Jews,” or, God forbid, “assimilating” with the gentiles.