Sunday, March 14, 2010

Donniel Hartman Article

My teacher, Donniel Hartman, wrote a worthwhile article about the place of Israel advocacy in the Jewish pantheon. In light of last week's imbroglio and the upcoming AIPAC conference in Washington, it makes for interesting reading. Click on the post's title for the complete article. What follows are a few excerpts.
Since Operation Cast Lead and the subsequent Goldstone Report, there has been an increasing sense that anti-Israeli opinion has moved beyond criticism of some of Israel's actions and policies to the delegitimization of the Zionist project as a whole. We Israelis and Jews must have no problem with constructive criticism. Our tradition has taught us that criticism is first and foremost an act of love and loyalty. We welcome it as a necessary check-and-balance in ensuring moral behavior. In fact, we have always been our own greatest critics. When we define all criticism of Israel's policies as anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic, we are neither accurate nor serving Israel's interests. However, undermining the essential legitimacy of the State of Israel as a Jewish State or as the homeland of the Jewish people is not criticism but rather a danger which we must confront and combat... It is time for us to recognize that the Jewish community in general and Israel in particular have failed to develop a new Jewish narrative for the Jewish people around the world on which to base their relationship with Israel. Jewish organizations and Israel have held steadfast to the three arguments above [Israel is necessary as a safe haven in the event of a new Holocaust; the survival of the State of Israel is in danger; and Israel is a central ally in the West's war against the Axis of Evil] for they were successful in creating a crisis-centered relationship with Israel which was effective in raising money. These actions, however, have mortgaged our future on the altar of immediate and short-term institutional needs. Repayment is now due, and the resources are lacking. The Jewish community is not in need of an Israel advocacy campaign of facts and figures alone, but also of a new Jewish narrative based on Jewish ideas and values for engaging Israel in a way that will help integrate Israel into a modern Jewish identity. Jews today need to be able to address crucial questions for which they currently do not know the answer. For example: What is the role of "peoplehood" in modern Jewish identity? What is the meaning and purpose of Jewish sovereignty connected to territory rooted in the land of Israel to modern Jewish life? What are the requirements of morality of war, and how can Israel use its power in a way that is consistent with the highest standards of Jewish morality and values? How does Israel balance its legitimate right of self defense with the rights of others? Can a Jewish state be reconciled with the values of Jewish pluralism and freedom? Does the aspiration for a Jewish state automatically define Israel as a racist, apartheid state? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed and answered by this new Jewish narrative of Israel and Zionism. If one cannot answer them, there is neither a foundation for connecting to Israel nor the ability to sustain a viable and meaningful relationship. We need to educate and empower the Jewish community to engage Israel in a meaningful way before we can even think about asking them to advocate on its behalf....

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