Aspects of the Jewish Diaspora–Panagiotis

The term diaspora, very often, suggests also diffusion and loss. The Jewish people have been in diaspora since the Babylonian exile and yet, if we say that they remain focused on their center, we would not be wrong. But what may be such a reliable center? The term diaspora indicates that the center was a spot on the map, a fatherland. The case of the Jewish people however is a proof that such a substantial center may be, finally, not the most important factor for the survival or happiness of a people.

The Jewish people are coming from the past, meaning that they are a witness of the pre-Christian-Muslim world. They refused to change their way according to the needs of the Roman Empire’s society. They kept practicing Judaism. This is their center and orientation, which set them apart from both: those who changed and somehow moved on and those who ceased to exist completely. Certainly there are more ancient traditions, which predate Christianity and Islam. Some of them never cease to exist, some were revived at some time. What sets apart the Jewish diaspora and Judaism is that they remained present and alive throughout space and time, in the center of the fire which shaped our world, that is, Europe and the Middle East. Jews’ fatherland has been not so much some diaspora-home, as much their tradition. After Christianity and Islam, the changes kept their parade in front of the Jewish diaspora: renaissance, enlightenment (with its ideologies), the great revolutions. The Jewish people were not isolated. They were in dialog and took part many times in all these developments. Nevertheless, they kept their center, and their center was their tradition.

In the same way with the ideas, the map kept changing under the feet of the Jewish people. The examples are so many: Jewish people were leaving in many places of the Roman Empire a long time before the formation of all these later countries (and nations). Spain went to the Jews. Russia went to the Jews. Greece went to the Jews. Germany went to the Jews. Finally, the Jewish diaspora might be more settled than the others. This is the case without even to touch the questions about the origins of the various nations: Celtic, Germanic, Slavic etc. If not all, most of them have origins from places far away from those which they claim as their fatherland. Many of these nations have origins other than what they claim; their career is a long list of appropriations.

Of course, it would be very naive to expect from any antisemitic voice (which keep making noise) to address any of these ideas. Moreover, it seems that the example of the Jewish diaspora and its achievements mean nothing (as an example of what is possible) for all these counties which keep destroying each other for a few feet of land. A few examples may be the war in Ukraine, the reappearance of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and many others.

The Jewish example is that success has less to do with territory and huge resources; it has to do with hard work, with patience, with creative use of very limited means. It is not so difficult to use the very fertile land. The challenge is to take the desert and make it fertile.

 

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