I attended a parlor meeting at which you were the guest of honor. I had recently learned about the work of New Israel Fund (NIF) and was anxious to meet you and learn more about your vision. I am a new co-chair of the Israel Shared Society Platform with Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ. We are doing much of the same work. And besides, who wouldn’t want to meet the man Bibi considers public enemy number one?
After hearing your call to action for liberal American Jews to join you in this fight for the soul of Israel, I find that we share a vision.
In March 2019, I wrote an op-ed piece for the NJ Jewish News in which I stated: “We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of real people, to be allies with organizations and leaders who share (and work toward) our values. I strongly encourage deep engagement and investment in these efforts.”
I argued then and now that engagement with organizations and programs that fight for equality, religious freedom, human rights and democracy in Israel will be more effective than disengagement and boycotts. For younger, progressive American Jews who are feeling increasingly alienated by an increasingly right wing Israel and being pulled into intersectional (and anti-Zionist) causes, you are offering a path to empowerment.
American Jews want recognition of liberal streams of Judaism in Israel, to be recognized as Jews. So, let’s support efforts to fight for religious freedom in Israel. American Jews support equality for minorities in Israel in accordance with the vision of Israel’s founders in the Declaration of Independence. So, let’s support programs that bring Jews and Arabs together, such as youth movements or bilingiual education. American Jews support liberal democracy. So let’s support watchdog organizations that educate and advocate about these issues. While we may feel powerless thousands of miles away living in relative security and peace in America, we can still have a voice. We can and should be allies with our fellow Jews in Israel by supporting them in their efforts to ensure the future of democracy and equality in our beloved shared homeland.
Let’s work together for an Israel that we can all be proud of (on the left and on the right), an Israel that can be a light among nations. Let’s help Israelis build an Israel which has all the raw ingredients to be one of the world’s most effective democracies in a very undemocratic region. Disengagement will likely only embolden those who seek to destroy Israel and those who seek to undermine and weaken Israeli democracy in the pursuit of power.
In a hostile, divisive political climate that feels like hand to hand combat, you have asked us for something more than our hands (or our donations). You have asked us for our hearts. I will give you even more than you asked for; I will give my soul for this fight.
So, who do I make the check out to?