Israel-Diaspora analyst Down Under

Professor Gil Troy. Photo: Twitter

PROFESSOR Gil Troy is set to visit Australia as a special guest of the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), to headline its plenary conference in Sydney on August 25 and to speak in Melbourne and Perth.

Ahead of his arrival, Troy, an American author, media contributor, commentator and Zionist thinker, told The AJN from Israel that he is looking forward to his first visit here.

“I’ve sat down with [ZFA] leaders … I’m fascinated by the [Australian Jewish] community, having heard of it in the United States as an American historian having lived many years in Montreal,” the North American history scholar at Canada’s McGill University said.

Describing what he has heard about the Canadian and Australian Jewish communities, he said, “There are certain similarities [that set them apart from the American Jewish community] … these are communities that are still survivor-heavy, still more deeply Jewish, still more distinct. I’m curious to meet the community, see where it is, see where it’s going, and learn from it.”

Asked about rising pressures on the Israel–Diaspora relationship, Troy, whose latest book, The Zionist Ideas, looks at new ways to approach Israel, the Diaspora and their unique bond, reflected on the partnership.

“[Israel and the Diaspora] are different communities with different survival skills, with different agendas, in very different environments. Israelis are more Davidian and Diaspora Jews are more Isaiahan. [King] David had to run the country … you have to do that through an exercise of sovereignty which sometimes means taking tough decisions and ugly decisions.

“In the Diaspora, you also have the prime imperative of staying alive … but through a series of values … in western, sophisticated, happy, prosperous, democratic countries. And so we read David, sometimes skipping over the harp playing, and we read [the prophet] Isaiah, sometimes skipping over the nationalist and ugly parts. And we start with the assumption that we acknowledge our difference,” he emphasised.

Strengthening the Israel–Diaspora bond has been Troy’s focus for many years through his work for the Taglit-Birthright Jewish youth program to Israel, in his role as voluntary chair of its International Education Committee.

As Taglit-Birthright nears the end of its second decade, Troy said, “We’re part of the internal brainstorming of Birthright – what’s it going to look like in five or 10 years? Where’s the Jewish community going? One of the exciting things about going to Australia is to see where you’re headed.”

Professor Gil Troy will address the ZFA Plenary Conference in Sydney on Sunday, August 25 at 4pm.

Professor Troy will speak together with journalist Gil Hovav at Beth Weizmann Community Centre on his book The Zionist Ideas on August 28, 7.30pm, and at Shabbat lunch at Blake Street shule on August 31 on ‘Reclaiming the Z-Word’. He will also speak to the Perth Jewish community on September 1.

PETER KOHN