American Judaism, in the main, does not regard itself as a religion in the sense that the term is understood in the modern world. American Jews, in this discourse, are less a religious community than a polity. All of the major denominations of American Judaism are affiliated with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, which regards itself as the governing body of the whole American community and has essentially no other purpose than to advocate for the State of Israel. Said “community,” in turn, is regarded to be nothing more than an appendage of the transnational polity called “the Jewish people” of which, according to the official ideology of the State of Israel, it is the collectively held possession as opposed to a state of all its citizens.Ross' Observation echoes my own observation after watching a YouTube video of an American rabbi, Ammiel Hirsch, lecture a Jewish-American congregation that diaspora Jewish assimilation is a "disease":
When John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their 2005 book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, it was vulnerable to predictably lurid charges in part because it was not just aimed at the powerful American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The authors also insisted on documenting a much wider phenomenon, and their use of the somewhat vague term “Israel lobby” did not properly elaborate that AIPAC and scores of other politically powerful non-religious Jewish organizations like it are all affiliates of the larger Conference of Presidents. Peter Beinart’s original essay in The New York Review of Books, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” spoke more directly to this reality and provided the more apt and precise term “American Jewish Establishment,” of which the Israel lobby is merely a part.
In the video below, not only does the "American" rabbi Ammiel Hirsch declare Jewish-American assimilation a "disease" that needs to be "inoculated" against [04:50], but he additionally says frankly that “Israel reminds us that at the core of Judaism, we do not speak about the individual and our Maker, as religion is commonly understood in the West. Rather, Judaism is about community.”The implications of this are obvious, and go to a proposition that I, many others, and many before us have held (to varying degrees) for years -- namely that Diaspora Zionist Jews have a foremost loyalty, interest and agenda not to and for their respective countries of residence, but rather to and for Israel and the collective Jewish polity that comprises international Zionism.
What does this mean? It means that Israel-first Zionist Jews like Rabbi Hirsch don't consider their collective Jewish group identity to be a religion in worship of a God, but rather a "community," or more specifically, a nation -- a nation in worship of Israel and itself.
In other words, regardless of where they are in the world, Diaspora Zionist Jews consider their shuls, congregations and cliques to be nations unto themselves operating as satellites to lodestar Israel.
Ross' trenchant observation that Israel is regarded by itself and the international Jewish Zionist polity as a "collectively held possession as opposed to a state of all its citizens," goes directly to this proposition.
"Israel" is not merely the physical state located in the Levant, but rather the entirety of the international Jewish Zionist polity; and the members of this Jewish Zionist polity regard themselves first and foremast as citizens of the physical Levant geographical entity + the international virtual entity, which together add up to "Israel."
"Israel" is the state of Zionist Jews, wherever they may reside. And this international polity known as Israel is their highest loyalty and obligation, and in a contest between their diaspora countries of residence and this physical and virtual Jewish state of Israel, Israel comes first.
Hence the term "Israel-firsters."