Why and how should we study Diaspora Jews' relation to Israel?
In this talk, Dr. Ilan Baron makes a case for why studying Diaspora Jews' relationship with Israel ought to be done using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. However, instead of making the case using a methodologically and philosophically abstract argument, he does so by going over empirical and related theoretical conclusions from his work on this topic. These include discussing recent fieldwork in California, his book 'Obligation in Exile: the Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique', and a forthcoming article in the Journal of International Political Theory. As he argues, for those Jews who feel a connection with Israel, or find that having such a connection is important for being Jewish, Israel matters not necessarily ideologically but phenomenologically, as a part of their being-in-the-world as Jews. Dr. Baron suggests that the evidence for how Israel features in the construction of contemporary Jewish identity is in how debates about Israel are not about Israel so much as they are about what it means to be Jewish. Consequently, what is especially important for researchers to explore are the types of meaning that Israel provides for Diaspora Jews and the implications of this meaning.