Words of the Week: Defending Israel’s Right to Exist (and in Peace)

Normally, my Friday posts on this blog provide a slew of literary links from around the web just in time for Shabbat. But I’m still going through all the links associated with Wednesday’s Jewish Book Carnival, and I suspect that you may be, too.

Moreover, we are nearing Yom Kippur, and I am still thinking about my rabbi’s extraordinary Rosh Hashanah sermon last week. Our rabbi voices disagreement with Israeli policies when he feels that it’s warranted, and I’d say he has a rock-solid reputation for “progressive” attitudes and a focus on social justice. But on Rosh Hashanah, his sermon reminded us that whatever Israel’s flaws may be, there is no excuse for the constant, one-sided, and hypocritical attacks and assaults on its integrity and legitimacy. And he urged us to speak and act on Israel’s behalf. (I am oversimplifying his remarks, which I very much hope will soon be published and accessible to everyone.)

So I am speaking and acting. Here. Or, more precisely, I’m pointing you to others who are doing a good, honest, job of it.

  • You may have heard that “Israel doesn’t care about peace.” (TIME magazine has said so!) But that’s not quite accurate.
  • In fact, if you want to see and hear some people who really don’t want peace for and between Israel and its neighbors, the stars of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement are excellent exemplars.
  • Coincidentally, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote a post this week about the efforts to delegitimize Israel. The post was occasioned by Goldberg’s attendance at an event on behalf of a new organization, one that is dedicated, in his words “to the proposition that Israel has a right to exist.” Which is itself enough to have made Goldberg find the event “so depressing. What other country, sixty-two years after its birth (rebirth, actually) requires advocates to argue that it should continue to exist? Why is it that the world’s only Jewish country is the only country to persistently face questions about its own legitimacy? ” In those lines, he was echoing some of my rabbi’s sermon.

Yes, the sermon, too, was in some ways depressing. As is the necessity to expose the true motives of the BDS activists. As is the need to monitor and counter pernicious stories in the mainstream media.

But we can’t be paralyzed by the depression. We must continue to read, think, write, and speak. We must continue to defend Israel.

Wishing everyone a peaceful holiday, and an easy fast.