Loving and Hating Israel
What an awkward and awesome time to talk about Israel. Over the past couple weeks, Israel’s actions in the news reignited all the conflicted ambivalence my friends and I feel about our association with the Jewish state. Just the week before, the … Read More
What an awkward and awesome time to talk about Israel. Over the past couple weeks, Israel’s actions in the news reignited all the conflicted ambivalence my friends and I feel about our association with the Jewish state. Just the week before, the Jewish community went atwitter with the accusation by Peter Beinart that the establishment has abandoned Israel’s liberal values.
Beinart says the openness to moral inquiry regarding Israel is shut down by American Jewish leaders. For example, 23-year AIPAC veteran Steven Rosen said to Beinart on NPR on Sunday that any criticism of Israel in public makes one anti-Israel. Rosen said, "You’re either going to try to help protect it or you’re going to jump on the bandwagon of those who are trying to harm it. There’s only two camps here."
Attitudes like this make us unable to have some very necessary conversations. In the minds of us in our 20s and 30s, the State of Israel is painfully contradictory. It’s the only place where the public culture is Jewish – buses don’t run on Shabbat, the flag has a Star of David, and Jewish existance is purportedly secured. It’s also the place where Jewish preference discriminates against non-Jews, where security is continuity, and where universalism takes a backseat.
As a social justice activist, I care about the big questions of Israel’s identity, behavior, and social fabric. What kind of "Jewish" is the Jewish state? How does that impact her social fabric with non-Jews and other countries? Will all people treated fairly? I cannot determine whether or how much to engage with Israel if I’m not certain which values we share. My loyalty is not a given.
But I also care about the flourishing of Jewish culture, religion and life. Will Jews have safe haven in the world (that is, beyond New York, of course)? How best can Jews flourish and enjoy the benefits of other nations in the world?
These contradictions are driving many of us away without Israel in our lives. What are our social justice values and what are our Jewish values — or are they the same?
If the recent news and debates have driven you to consider these questions, or better yet – driven you to want to ignore Israel altogether – we at Jewcy invite you to join us as we explore Love, Hate and the Jewish State.
In full disclosure, Jewcy is the official media sponsor of this important event as we hope to attract people who aren’t normally part of these conversations. In fact, the first 2 people who comment below will get free admission, but some quick "official rules". You are ineligible if you a) know Ben or b) have attended other NIF events. As Radiohead says, "We want the young blood." Helen Thomas need not apply.