Sometimes when we argue about heartfelt subjects, we discuss them with a sense of mutual respect and of eilu v’eilu divrei Elohim chayim (both of these opinions are for the sake of Heaven). At other times, when the stakes seem so high, we become convinced that our way is the right way, the blessed way, the only way. The positions of others are deemed heretical, unpatriotic, blasphemous.
Such is what has happened to the discourse about Israel in parts of the American Jewish community. Fly over to Israel (or read the editorials in Israeli papers Ma’ariv, Yedidot Achronot and Ha’aretz – as well as on a host of Israeli blogs) and you will discover passionate debate that far overshadows ours here in the United States. Not long ago, I wrote about this example of American Jewish hypocrisy in my post, Blasphemers No More. [Truth be told, even in Israel some resort to name calling or worse: see Prime Minister Netanyahu’s calling Ha’aretz an “enemy of Israel.“]
Now comes a breath of fresh air from Moment Magazine, offering a wide variety of opinions about what it means to be pro-Israel. We read perspectives from Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox and Secular leaders, from supporters of AIPAC, J-Street, WZO and others, from people all over the spectrum. Left, right, center, up, down and more.
What’s beautiful about Moment’s symposium is that is represents what I believe is the mainstream Jewish perspective: that there is a spectrum of ways to be pro-Israel, far more than we often admit. Read Morton Klein, Peter Beinart, Anat Hoffman, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Laura Novak Winer, Martin Peretz, Judea Pearl and others.
Let this article be a reminder that Ohavei Yisrael, lovers of Israel, come in various sizes, shapes and a multiplicity of perspectives. We in the organized Jewish community need to be careful about slandering each other by calling one opinion “anti-Israel,” “self-hating Jew,” or the like. While some opinions fall outside acceptable boundaries – support for BDS for one – most of the rest should be part of robust discussion in our communities, on our pulpits and on our campuses.
May robust discussions continue to flourish.