We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Sometimes we're lucky to have friends with whom we can have civil conversations, even when we disagree. Fewer times, we're even more fortunate to have a friend whose learning and temperance wakens new thinking in ourself. Such a friend earns the right to be listened to carefully, always.
The Rabbi at my synagogue is such a friend. He is deeply liberal in all the best senses of that term, courageous in stating his views, and in altering them as new information is found. Several years ago, at his High Holiday sermon, the most heard of the year, he called for more openness in our listening to criticisms of Israel, not to pull it down but to get closer to our ideals.
In the meantime, others have gathered force to pull Israel down. So, this year, the Rabbi's sermon confronted those who cross the line from legitimate criticism to delegitimization. "When it comes to Israelís many faults, there is a bold line between criticism and delegitimization, and that line is being crossed by those whose real agenda is the elimination of the Jewish State."
It is a beautiful and informative discussion. As usual, the Rabbi speaks clearly and covers the pros and cons, resulting in a reasoned conclusion. "To teach our children, to educate our neighbors, and to raise our hands against the slaughtering knife of delegitimization of the Zionist Project."
That was a great read and a heck of a sermon. I thought it was relevant to our own society in some ways as some of our national leadership, and some of our own citizens, seek to deligitimize our own society in the eyes of both the world and our fellow citizens. Change a few words here and there an he could also be talking about us.
The problem with that attitude is (at least in this context) that the deligitimisers will see and treat any criticisim of Israel at all by its supporters as validation of their own point of view.
And with most of the world's press (including a lot of Israeli press) firmly in their camp, that's not good at all.
So constructive criticism in camera, sure. But don't publicly criticise lest your criticism be turned against that which you support.
You're correct, and incorrect.
Yes, foes of Israel's existence will harp on or exaggerate anything, but they also invent even when there isn't internal or external criticism.
However, Israel is an open society, which has perhaps the deepest culture of any country of publicly airing its linen. It cannot be otherwise where everyone themself and their family members and friends are directly on the front line, literally, everyday. Besides building confidence in self-correction it leads to quicker reforms where needed, thus creating greater internal cohesion on the tough choices.
Yes, that is at tension with the closed societies around Israel or elsewhere and determined propagandist foes, but the alternative of Israel being a closed society is worse and more self-defeating.
Elsewhere in the West, Israel faces similar attitudes as the US from the unholy alliance of the radical left and Islamists, and maintains credibility among others by being an open society.
The answer to extremism is exposure and behaving non-extremist.
Wow - I am amazed to read something by an obviously liberal/progressive Rabbi who gets that Israel is not - and not supposed to be - a Jeffersonian, agnostic, multi-culti state.
But he does not really articulate an alternative, other than quoting Rabbi Hartman. And when he calls on his flock to explain this to others... my experience is that most such Jews really do embrace the multi-culti view, and see their own Jewishness in that way - as a matter of personal preference rather than binding covenant.
I find it easier to explain this by contrasting the USA's wall of separation between church and state with the situation in Europe. Most European countries recognize Christianity as a key facet of national identity, in myriad taxpayer-funded ways that would shock most American liberals.
Freedom of religion for non-Christians means that they can do their own thing without harassment - but public cultural expressions remain unabashedly Christian.
Israel's mandate and situation is more similar to European countries than the US. This in no way makes it less democratic - no more than Germany (crucifixes in Bavarian public classrooms, Turkish children learning about the Protestant Reformation as a "key to national identity")
or France (catholic priests on the counseling staff of larger public schools)
or England (taxpayer-funded Anglican church)
or Italy (!!!)
or the rest of Europe (taxpayer-funded Xmas and Easter festivities, taxpayer-funded maintenance of historic churches, crosses on flags, etc.)
Sometimes this comparison gets through - not the least because most uber-liberals so idolize Europe.
But my guess is most of the flock at this temple are not as comfortable with this concept as the Rabbi is.