Why I’m Still a Zionist

With the publication of my previous post (My Crisis of Zionism), I have had the pleasure of being called an idiot by Rabbi Daniel Gordis and many other names by many other people. This is what happens when we touch the third rail of Israel in the Jewish world today.One intelligent question I’ve been asked is whether I am a Zionist any more or not?I believe that I am. I’ll begin with a little history.The core idea behind Zionism was that the Jews needed a refuge. Given the horrors of a … [Read more...]

My Crisis of Zionism

True Zionist confessions: As a campus Hillel director and later a JCC professional, I was professionally (and frequently fanatically) committed to telling Israel’s story, as I then understood it. Somehow, across the years I managed to retain my optimism that Israel would be the great success story of the Jews who would now go about showing the world what a truly enlightened liberal universalistic nation they could build. Perhaps I was naïve, but that’s how life goes. It’s not easy undoing generat … [Read more...]

Israeli Crackdown on Left-Wing Groups Continues

News out of Jerusalem this week is that the right-wing government has given the thumbs-up to the so-called “Transparency Bill” sponsored by Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party.With its passage, human rights NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governmental sources will be forced to reveal their status as “foreign agents” in every published document. They will also be required to wear special identity badges marking them as such when lobbying pub … [Read more...]

Defaming the Left in Israel

Israeli right-wingers are going off the rails and taking Israeli democracy with them.The Jewish Home Party, which represents the interests of religious Zionist nationalist extremists, is sponsoring a “Transparency Bill” directed at shutting down left-wing NGOs.If passed, the law would require any left-wing NGO that receives 50% or more of its funding from foreign governmental sources to reveal this fact in every single interaction with Israeli government authorities. They would also be re … [Read more...]

Israeli Extremists Respond to Paris Massacre

Haaretz writer Uri Misgav has published a powerful blog post about right-wing nationalist Orthodox Jewish responses to the horrors in Paris. (Unfortunately, it’s only available in Hebrew.)Their responses are repulsive in so many ways. They are consistently characterized by a horrible kind of schadenfreude, even rising - in Misgav’s words - to a level of “pure joy.”Rabbi Dov Lior, until very recently the chief rabbi of the Kiryat Arba settlement (near Hebron) and head of one of its largest … [Read more...]

Does Torah Command Immediate Execution of Disarmed Terrorists?

To my liberal rabbinical colleagues who hold the view that the Torah’s wisdom is necessary in the search for morality, I present this necessary reminder that what constitutes the will of the Torah is in the eyes of the rabbis who interpret it.And sometimes there is murder in their eyes.Rabbi David Stav, of the moderate Israeli rabbinic organization known as Tzohar, issued a halakhic opinion last week ruling that it is forbidden to kill a terrorist who has otherwise been rendered h … [Read more...]

It’s the Occupation, Stupid

View image | gettyimages.comI’ve mentioned before that I’m still a paid-up member of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis. Because of this I get to lurk on the Facebook page and hear what’s on the minds of Reform rabbis.Yesterday I learned that some of the major lights of the movement have opinions about the latest wave of terror in Israel that I find stunning.I won’t mention any names here - that would betray the closed nature of the group - and I won’t quote anyon … [Read more...]

Why I Support Open Hillel

After years of sitting on the “right-of-center” when it came to Israel (I called myself a “security dove”) I have moved to the left. And not a little.As I’ve slowly drifted to this position, I’ve come to realize just how much the right likes to shut down open discourse in the Jewish community. The BDS*-monster is the boogey-man invoked to shut down opportunities to even engage the other side.When I worked in Hillel we certainly supported Israel, but we also sponsored all kinds of dialogue … [Read more...]

J Street U Picks Muslim Leader, Jews Freak Out

The new president of the campus arm of the liberal Zionist organization J Street was elected last week at the J Street U summer leadership conference.After taking a class at the University of Maryland, where she is a senior, she “fell in love with Zionism,” noting that Zionism is about taking ownership over the story of one’s people.” She also spent a semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem to get a better idea of what Israel was all about.Could there be anything more wonderful for a g … [Read more...]

Murderous Jewish Religious Fanaticism, Part One

View image | gettyimages.comLast week was a horrible one in Israel. Contained within the horror was a frightening reminder of the divisions in the Jewish world; a community divided sharply between modern Jews and those who follow the path of religious fanaticism.This first of two posts deals with that particular brand of Jewish religious fanaticism that is also ultra-nationalist.The terrorist settler thugs who killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh and critically injured his parents … [Read more...]


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