George Orwell said, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Israelis sleep well because other Israelis — barely older than boys and girls, actually — are willing to serve when called. Serving in the IDF is “a mitzvah,” said Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of religion.
It is both heartening and sad that the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York has initiated and drafted a statement calling on the community to engage in civil discourse when discussing and debating issues about Israel.
Israel is under attack. Not across the ocean but right here in New York. The mayor of New York has been roundly criticized by some major figures in our community for his embrace of AIPAC, the Israel lobbying group whose politics have always been in sync with Israel’s democratically elected government, left or right. This was a challenge not to any Israeli policy but to AIPAC itself. As Reform leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie countered, “A Washington without AIPAC would not mean an Israel at peace; it would mean an Israel isolated and vulnerable”
It may turn out to be more flash than substance, but the World Jewry Joint Initiative, or what Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett describes as “a Jewish crowd-source brainstorming jam session,” taking place over three days this week, signals a major and much-needed shift in the Israel-diaspora relationship. Namely, the strategic initiative, sponsored by Bennett’s ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency, reflects “a sea change” in the way that Israel views the diaspora, Bennett told us in a phone interview this week.
In the wake of recent economic and academic attacks on Israel comes a resumption on the theological front.
Last week, the Palestine Mission Network, an advisory group to the Presbyterian Church in this country, released “Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide,” a 74-page illustrated booklet that the liberal Protestant denomination describes as a resource for leaders and laity with an interest in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The publication appeared ahead of the church’s biennial General Assembly, a national gathering that will take place in June in Detroit.