A Statement About the Situation in Israel
By Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal
I have heard from many of you regarding great concern for the current Israeli government and the legislative/judicial proposals that many fear will change the fabric of Israeli society for the foreseeable future. Reports of massive protests in the streets and countless articles by individuals of all stripes sharing their grave concern and protest of where Israel might be heading is worrisome. I have remained silent, because I, like most people that I have talked to, am struggling to fully understand the situation, what can be done about it, and my place in bringing change. I know that my first and most important job right now is to educate myself. Reading, learning, and seeking out a better understanding of the situation is the first step in any sort of advocacy. I suspect that many within our community are, like me, feeling uninformed. I have included a few articles that I have found meaningful along with websites that provide insight into Israel democracy and society.
- Matt Friedman (From Bari Weiss's Free Press)—Article
- Wall Street Journal—Article
- Times of Israel—Article
- Israel Democracy Institute—Website
The next priority needs to be engagement with Israel which leads to supporting the institutions and agencies that are making Israel into the amazing place it promises to be. I have always been impressed by our many congregants who have been lovers and supporters of the State of Israel. They travel there often—They have a go-to organization that they support and often serve on various boards and committees. However, I have been saddened by the lack of cohesion as a congregation regarding Israel advocacy and support. Therefore, I feel that an important step forward will be to create a strong group within the synagogue that can dialogue, share ideas, argue (respectfully) and work together to grow the support and love for Israel.
This internal struggle for the soul of the State of Israel is fodder for anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and antisemites. With the rise of global antisemitism, this situation is adding fuel to those who don't need it. My concern, however, isn't about them but about us. We know that a growing number of Jews are questioning their willingness to remain engaged with Israel while still others don't even have Israel on their radar. To be true ambassadors for Israel, we need to speak from knowledge, compassion, and experience. In addition, some have speculated that the proposed legislative changes might impact the place that Israel plays as a haven for Jews from around the world.
This all still leaves me asking—What can we do? I have chosen to remain in the diaspora which means that I don't vote in Israeli elections. While we need to speak out, we need to ensure that our words and actions bring our people closer together and closer to Israel and not push us farther apart. I am proposing that we start by studying the issues together, unpacking the various articles that might have important points and create a space for us to share our love and concern for the State of Israel and all the people who call our sacred land, home. Please email me if you are willing to be a part of this conversation ([email protected]). Israel is made stronger when the bonds that bind us are strong. I hope you will join me.