Wake Up Diaspora-Take Courage from Israel

“The whole world does not outweigh the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; all writings are holy, but the song is holiest of them all.”

I just returned from a one week Honest Reporting whirlwind tour of Israel. Before I left Canada I had felt a change in the Israeli psyche from what I had read and conversations I’d had with Israelis. That feeling was confirmed. Israel is filled with hopefulness and great pride. A sense of accomplishment-and rightly so. Building is taking place everywhere. Infrastructure to skyscrapers. Beautiful shops on walkways reminiscent of Rome and Paris.

Israel is a country of human diversity. A microcosm of the world. I met three young men at my hotel, the Inbal. All Jews. All different in appearance. Adam, half-Israeli half American as he described himself, white with a short beard. Ben, with an olive complexion dark eyes and hair. And Tal-who looks like an Arabian knight or a Bedouin in Petra, dark skin and hair, green translucent eyes that look like they have been outlined in a dark eyeliner, and thick black eyelashes. Those who say they can spot a Jew have never met Jews. Like so many others I met, these young people say there is greater hope in Israel than ever before.

It was the young half-Israeli half American Jew who works with Taglit-students coming over to Israel, who remarked that of all the students he has met, the Canadians are the least educated. How did that happen? Is that the reason our students don’t speak up for themselves against Jew-hatred on campus?

Then I listened to speakers who kept saying that it is time to speak up for Israel. Working behind the scenes, being quiet, not rocking the boat is no longer the path. Khaled Abu Taomeh, award winning journalist, documentary filmmaker living in Jerusalem, a Palestinian Arab Muslim Israeli, told us that he will not go to US campuses anymore. He said he feels safer in Israel. The incitement on campus by Palestinians is frightening. He calls these people not pro-Palestinian but rather anti-Jews. Khaled said that Jewish kids on campus feel insecure. They don’t know what to do. He says pro-Israel kids won’t speak up for fear of reprisal. He told us there are Jewish kids who aren’t even sure that Israel should exist.

Then we met Suleiman Khatib,an Arab, born in Judea Samaria, raised to hate Jews and now a peace activist after spending 10 years in an Israeli prison for attacking Israeli soldiers. He also commented that he was more afraid on American campuses than he is in Israel.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Director of Shurut HaDin Israel Law Centre, seeking to secure justice and safeguard Jewish rights by fighting in the courts, expressed concern about the state of affairs on our campuses. She told us that we must take action at our universities. We must stand up, out front of the hate.

Yitzchak Santis, Chief Programs Officer for NGO Monitor commented on the fact that we are too quiet.

When I returned home I read this in Arutz Sheva by blogger Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim of Pakistani origin:

“Saying Never again every Yom Ha’Shoa is pointless unless we back it up with deeds and action.  My final message to the leadership who may take issue with what I have written, all I ask is step out from your ivory towers, your champagne receptions and lead, or hand over the mantle to those who will.” AMEN

The paradigm is shifting. Israel is far ahead of the diaspora. We must not be quiet any more. It’s time for the old guard to move aside, make room for the Lions of Judah who are prepared to bring our light out from under the basket, where the old guard keeps it, to speak up against the hate for Jews, to rock the boat, to push back.

“My vineyard-my home-now lies before me.” Song of Songs

Think of donating to grassroots organizations like Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and Israellycool, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR), StandWithUs, Elder of Ziyon Blog, Canada-Israel Friendship Association, Israel Truth Week, AMCHA Initiative, Shurat Hadin, The Lawfare Project, Honest Reporting, Alternative Angle Blog, Blazing Catfur Blog, UK Lawyers for Israel, Students for Israel, Sussex Friends of Israel, Palestinian Media Watch, and Calgary United with Israel who have no qualms about fighting loudly and proudly for our right to exist as a people and a nation-state.

These are the people ready to promote Israel-not defend her. To defend is to imply that Israel has offended or is guilty of something; that she needs to justify her right to exist, her morals, values, ethics, and priorities. Wrong. Israel is not perfect but when it comes to defending one’s behaviours, let’s hear from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Quatar, Nigeria, Somalia, the Central Africa Republic. Let’s hear from the USA-for its abuse of human rights, civil rights and its constitution regarding violations against her own citizens. This is our time to talk with pride and joy. This is our time to promote a thriving, living, breathing democracy in the land from which democracy was given as a gift by the Jews.

The year 1967 brought a new beginning to Israel after the re-establishment of the Jewish nation-state in 1948. This is our moment in history. We are in history, living it and making it. We, in the diaspora, must stand tall and proud, unafraid, with our brothers and sisters in the land of Israel.

In the words of our great teacher, Rabbi Hillel, If not now,diaspora when?


About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "