Tzipi Got It Right

Larry Levin

Larry Levin

Today I want to briefly discuss Judaism’s connection with Israel, and in particular a very impressive article in the Jerusalem Post by Tzipi Livni, leader of the opposition Kadima party in Israel.  http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=188864

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Livni’s column is about the perilous nature of world Jewry’s relationship with Israel. This topic is hardly new – the question of how Israel relates to the Diaspora, or doesn’t, is at the heart of many topics of the day. The proposed conversion bill in Knesset, the next generation of American Jews’ connection to the homeland, and the politics of the ongoing Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestinians, all touch on and relate to this crucial issue.

What’s nice about Livni’s piece is that she doesn’t live in some pretend world that dismisses such questions out of hand, as some backward thinking folks tend to do. She recognizes that there are issues that demand resolution, or at least understanding, in order to maintain a strong and meaningful connection between Israel and the Diaspora.

To this end, she cites four points. First, she insists that for Israel to be a true homeland to the Jews, Israelis must recognize that decisions about the future of the nation that impact not only Jews in Israel but those around the world require input from all. Second, she stresses that world Jewry must remain committed to Israel as homeland and that Israelis must be committed to Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Third, responsible criticism of Israel’s policies from world Jewry must not be taken as anti-Israel, and Diaspora Jews must also understand that some of those criticisms can be used by Israel’s enemies to promote opprobrium toward the nation. And finally, Israel must create a Jewish society that is a beacon for Jews of all stripes throughout the world, not one that creates or suggest schisms between and among Jews of varying backgrounds, cultures and religious practices.

For those of us who grew up around dinner tables enmeshed in rigorous debate about Jewry, American politics and everything else, Livni’s message is subtly though surprisingly strong – we may debate and advocate among ourselves, but in the end, we have loyalty and love for those at the table, whether we agree with them or not. Together we are Jews, and together, if only through strenuous self examination and difficult reconciliation, shall we move forward to a bright and hopeful future.