It's no secret that there is a rift between the Jewish community of the Diaspora and the one in Israel. Out here in golus, most non-observant Jews have come to see themselves as citizens of their home states who happen to be Jews, rather than Jews who happen to live in Canada or the United States. The main reason for this is the non-observant lifestyle which is almost completely identical to that of the average Canadian or American. A non-religious Jew has much more in common with the Protestant in the next cubicle at work than with the Shrekover Chasid he sees near the subway station a couple times a week.
Over in Israel, a similar process has occured in the secular population. They have become Israeli and do not identify with being Jewish. This is the price of putting a lot of Jews in one place. Being a "member of the tribe" ceases to be something special, something that joins people together in the face of a different majority. Besides, Arabs living within the 1949 armistics lines don't generally identify themselves as Israels but rather as Palestinians so being Israeli and Jewish are pretty much synonymous for them except that being Jewish has expectations associated with it while being Israeli doesn't.
(It's a little known piece of history that when the Zionists were planning to declare indepedence, they argued about what the state should be called. Although "Israel" won out, "Judea" or Yehudah was an option. Since "Jew" in Hebrew is Yehudi, this would have led to real problems regarding Who-is-a-Jew. Imagine how many non-Jewish people would have Yehudi written on their identity documents!)
Given that North American and European Jews therfore overwhelmingly see themselves as residents of their home cultures and Israelis mostly don't care about Jewish culture either, it's no wonder that the two communities are growing apart. However, this is a terrible tragedy that must be stopped. It can have only negative ramifications for the Jewish people as a whole.
Some suggestions from Professor Yehezkel Dror, the founding president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) include:
1. Israel must begin to consider the impact of its actions on the totality of the Jewish people before instituting any measures.
2. Israel must also consult with prominent world Jewish leaders before taking any steps that have a marked impact on the nation as a whole (future of Jerusalem, the ‘who is a Jew’ dilemma, etc...)
3. Stressing Jewish studies and Jewish history studies in Diaspora schools, as well as highlighting topics of Jewish interest in the media.
4. Cultivating a deeper understanding of the Jewish Diaspora and its unique needs among Israel’s elite, which, notes Professor Dror, is markedly ignorant concerning the leadership of the Jewish Diaspora as well as concerning important events that impact world Jewry.
5. Developing a coherent policy concerning Israelis living abroad, which serve as an important link between Israel and the Diaspora.
6. Strengthening the status of Jerusalem as the heart of Jewish civilization.
The problem with these ideas is that they are all non-starters. For one thing, Israelis have been saying for a generation that Diaspora Jews should have no input into how the State is run since they do not live there and therefore don't share the risks that Israelis do every day of their lives. As well, the ignorance the Israeli elite has of the Diaspora is purposeful. After all, Israeli's elite has nothing but disdain for their Jewishness. Telling them they should be interested in meeting a certain person because he's influential in the Jewish community of America is the worst thing you could do to motivate them to get together with the person. They are, after all, Israelis first so what would they have in common with this American?
There is really only one answer to the question of healing the rift. Both communities must make an effort to remind their members that they are Jews first and foremost. They may live in Canada, the United States, Britain or wherever, or they may be born and bred in Israel but they are citizens of the Jewish nation with all the responsibilities and obligations that implies. And what is implied is an allegiance to God and his Holy Torah. It is only in this way that we can have a common denominator that crosses political and cultural boundaries. I am a common citizen with every Jew everywhere in the world. My community should be open to him and his community to mine because of that bond. When that kind of national feeling is rekindled, the rift will be healed.