Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What's it say on that statue again?

Since I didn't alienate enough people yesterday sticking up for Dave Loebsack, today I'm going to talk about Israel.

Well, not really.  I'm still skittish enough to edit my thoughts heavily before sharing - one of the restraints I accept for writing with my real name. Not that I would do it any other way.

But I'm coming out of my shell a little on this, so I'll share a couple separate, opposite thoughts from the Jewish community, where free, or at least freeER, speech on the subject of Israel is possible.

Shmuel Herzfeld, rabbi of the the National Synagogue and founder of the National Capital Jewish Law Center, writes in response to the anti-Semitic undercurrents resurfacing in France post-Charlie Hebdo:
Jews should not be forced to move to Israel  to be safe. For some Jews, Israel is not an attractive option. They might not know Hebrew; maybe they don’t want to move to another place where terrorism is a daily concern; or maybe they are not Zionists at all.

For several reasons, Americans have an obligation to answer this call. For one, as a superpower, the United States carries a certain moral authority. If we take a leadership role in protecting French Jewry, it will send a message to European countries that we do not have patience for their excuses about being unable to provide proper protection for their Jewish citizens.

Furthermore, the United States must not make the same mistakes it has made in the past.
That's entirely in keeping with my Statue of Liberty policy on immigration: that America was founded as and should forever remain the universal land of refuge - religious, political, and economic. If only we had held to those values in 1945. Or, better yet, in 1933.

On the flip side, we have the editors of Commentary with 3600 words. It's a hard to excerpt piece and it presupposes a certain knowlege of and a particular interpretation of history.
Jews should have the right to choose to stay in France or anywhere else on the planet Earth they wish to live, from the center of Hebron to the top of Mount Everest. But the issue is not right but reality. Jews in France—and, given certain trends, elsewhere in Europe, from Great Britain to Scandinavia—have to consider their literal survival.
Current Israeli policies are, as I see it, dismissed:
Zionism was not a utopian vision. It was a program, and remains a program—the means by which Jewry can and will survive into its fourth millennium...

Now the real challenge comes from within Zionism itself—with the way practical Zionism has disappointed some Jews. These are people who have replaced practical Zionism with what might be called “conditional Zionism.” For the conditional Zionists, Israel was once the port of call for Jews adrift. Now, they say, the storm is over and the threat to Jewry comes more from what they see as the calamity that the storm has wreaked on the port....
If Israel does not behave as the conditional Zionists wish it to behave, if it does not enact policies the conditional Zionists wish it to enact, if it does not confront its own external challenges in a manner that salves the consciences of the conditional Zionists, then it is not deserving of their support.
But the conclusion is firm and absolute, and dismissive of what Herzfeld argues:
For every French Jew at risk, for every Jew everywhere at risk, and for every Jew who chooses, Israel is home. Its existence before the Holocaust would have saved millions. Its existence after the Holocaust saved and created millions. Seventy years after the Holocaust, Jews in Europe are in need of it again.

The existential necessity of Zionism after Paris is not only a fact. It is a charge for the future.
Most interesting to me?  How I came to know about this article.
Why is it that Christian conservatives are so interested in this topic?

In any case, both these pieces represent the kind of root-level conversation we need to be having about the Middle East if things are ever going to get solved. 

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