Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why I went with J-Street this afternoon

So this afternoon, in addition to being shaken up by a little earthquake, I joined the crew from J-Street Delaware to deliver a few hundred postcards and have a conversation about supporting a strong, secure, democratic and Jewish State of Israel. I know J-Street has gotten a bad rap, which makes me sad. I think too often there's a sense that if you deviate from a set script on Israel--whether you're a rabbi, a politician, or just a member of the Jewish community--you're branded as an antisemite, an Israel-hater, at best naive, or something similar. And I get where that anxiety comes from--Israel's in a rough neighborhood, surrounded by nations (even those at peace with her) who'd like to see the country go away, and her allies (with the exception of the US) are often not terrific (c.f. Turkey, the UK, France, etc.). So, J-Street (which advocates for a Two-State Solution to the peace process and supports a secure, democratic Jewish state alongside a secure Palestinian one) gets painted with that brush as well, and I would argue, unfairly.

Certainly, there were people in that room who would use terms like 'occupation' when relating to the West Bank. But then there were others--like myself and Rabbi Michael Beals, who joined us for this visit--who see terms like that for what they are: divisive and unhelpful. As Rabbi Beals said to me: no peace, no dialogue can come if you use the terminology of blame. But what's most important is creating a new kind of conversation about Israel, one that expresses support in serious terms, including support for really difficult, challenging work, work that Israel's Palestinian neighbors are not especially good at, and that many Israelis are despairing of whether it can actually happen, the work for peace.

And for those of you who are looking for a musical interlude to celebrate our earthquake:

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