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Is there a global Jewish politics?

Author(s): Michael Galchinsky
Date: 19 January 2009

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Jewish associations are essentially voluntary and have been since the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. Their decision-making is neither top-down nor a result of a participatory bottom-up process. On the political level each brings its own constituency and mission to the table. So, when it comes to global Jewish politics there is an alphabet soup of organizations and individuals participating in the decision-making process.

Their kaleidoscopic interrelations can resemble independent action, coordination, competition, or conflict, and have prevented a unified Jewish response to most political questions. Instead, we find a dynamic system of responses based on ever-changing relationships among multiple power centres.

Being aware of the fluid pattern by which global Jewish politics typically operates prompts the question: How will global Jewish politics be managed in the future? This can be divided into three parts: Who sets the global agenda? Does the decision-making process still work? What issues need collective action?

The busy, buzzing hive of associations should be seen as a sign of the robust health of global Jewish civil society. Those of us who hope to influence Jewish public policy need first of all to understand how the Jewish people works.

israel ideology politics antisemitism culture identity community leadership security socialjustice