More on Israel

21 Tamuz 5775
July 7, 2015

After the last draft, I was asked on Facebook whether preserving Israel’s existence was a moral imperative. I answered that it was, and promised a further discussion.

Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land” makes the point that in the period of the Shoah, the Jewish people realized that to preserve our existence, we needed to achieve X no matter what, despite the cost to anyone. I agree — we can’t improve ourselves or the world if we’re dead.  But I believe (as Shavit seems to) that this requires a good deal of caution and humility in defining X, so that the moral character of the state can be preserved and enriched.

Diaspora Jews also have to acknowledge that Israel’s existence is one of the major factors that gave us the confidence to promote equality and justice and oppose bigotry.  But this being said, we were still right to take these positions, and if we want Judaism to move closer to this ideal, we can’t exempt the half of the Jewish people that can actually create a Jewish culture.

So the challenge is to support Israel and educate the public about its moral potential, without denying that it also contains harmful ideologies that we don’t pretend to support.  One thought I had was a renewed dialogue between Israeli and Diaspora Jews, with no boastfulness or inferiority.  We have the chance to create a new Jewish outlook that has the best of both cultures.

Also, I’d love to see a new Zionism that aims to create a state that has a strong Jewish character and that sees non-Jews as fellow citizens, not as the Other.

These words are not meant to be a final answer to anything, but to be points in an ongoing discussion of issues that we should all recognize are complicated.

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