My audacious hopes for Israel

6 Tevet 5772/January 1, 2012

Last Saturday was the Shabbat of Chanuka, and in the prophetic reading, God shows the prophet a vision of a menora and olive branches, and expresses surprise that the prophet didn’t understand the vision’s message of hope (Zech. 4:1-6). I think this usage is uncommon in the prophetic books. Perhaps the message is that the prophet, and his community, were responsible for acting with the conviction that the future could be better.

This year, Americans, Europeans, Israelis and democratic progressives the world over will be challenged to show faith that freedom, tolerance and justice are the wave of the future, and that nations can rediscover their past greatness to serve this future.

For Israel and its supporters, this means maintaining Israel’s commitment to democracy and determination to be an equal part of the international community. Supporters of Israel should be wary of criticizing specific military and diplomatic steps — too much of the background information is unavailable to us — but we can and should have certain expectations. The purpose of these expectations is not just to correct wrong steps and avoid dangerous consequences, but to restore the Zionist vision of a Jewish state as a world leader.

We can and should expect that all Israelis who support democracy and openness will join together to put forward realistic proposals for peace — and to preserve these values if peace cannot be achieved.

We can and should expect that the Israeli government will protect law-abiding citizens and prosecute violent protesters as provided by law.

We can and should expect the Israeli government to protect Israel’s democratic institutions and the independence of its media and judiciary.

I am convinced that if Israel can take these steps, it can cultivate Jewish perspectives on the issues facing the world, allowing Jewish beliefs and traditions to help create new intellectual and spiritual approaches for humanity. If Israel can develop a role as a creator of new perspectives that recognize the image of God in all people, it can achieve not just secure existence, but a greatness not yet dreamed of in Washington – or in Jerusalem.

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2 Responses to “My audacious hopes for Israel”

  1. Shira Atik Says:

    Beautifully written. A wonderful wish for the new year.

  2. Martin Epstein Says:

    Let us hope that the people can apply these standards and hold the government to them. Thank you for this thoughtful contribution.

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