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What Best Characterizes Issues Relating to Israel and Jewish Peoplehood? Misinformation. Lack of Information. An occasional willingness to listen to contrary views but a failure to hear, respect and learn from those views. Single issue perspectives that preclude seeing, much less appreciating, the complete picture.  An inertia that prevents the taking of even the easiest actions in furtherance of what is believed needed to address those issues.  Let's talk about it.


Help Make
Peoplehood a Verb

 

 

Let's Learn A Little About (and maybe from)
Each Other

When we look at each other and see ourselves reflected in the other, we are one together.  And then disagreements can serve to delight.  But when we look upon each other and see only where we diverge, disagreement turns to disparagement and delight turns to distain.  And our sense of being one people, one family is diminished.

If the notion  of Jewish Peoplehood means anything, it represents a desire to heal the denominational divide, and what is seen as an Israel-Diaspora divide.  It means not looking at a fellow Jew as the other, and  not thinking "why can't you reasonable and see it my way/be more like me."   Peoplehood is a verb.  It means seeking out, learning, and engaging. 

Peoplehood does not mean engaging with the other in order to try to convert the other to our way of thinking or doing (at least not all the time).   And it does not mean we can't or shouldn't  talk and argue about those things we on which we disagree (at least some of the time).  But it does mean we spend time focusing on, and celebrating, what we share. It means seeing what we have in common with each other and delighting in differences and diversity.

It begins with being genuinely curious about Jews with different political, religious and cultural outlooks, learning about those differences and then discovering the beliefs (religious and political), outlooks, concerns, joys and sorrows we share. 

A person might think, “Since the House of Shammai declare unclean and the House of Hillel clean, this one prohibits and that one permits, how, then, can I learn Torah?Scripture says ‘Words . . . the words . . . . These are the words. . . ‘ All the words have been given by a single Shepherd, one God created them, one Provider gave them, the Lord of all deeds, blessed be He, has spoken them.  So make yourself a heart of many rooms and bring intro it the words of the House of Shammai and the works of the House of Hillel, the words of those who declare unclean and the words of those who declare clean.”

Tosefta, Sotah 7:12


We can begin with easy baby steps.  Over the Internet.  By exploring the web sites of those whom we see as different Jewishly.  Not just once, but often enough to begin to understand and connect,  By signing up for their newsletters.  By looking at their contrary views not with the idea of convincing them to "convert" but rather to see, beyond the rhetoric, the places they are coming from in an attempt to understand and to be sympathetic to those divergent views and places.  And by encouraging friends, relatives and congregants to do so.

Here are a few places to begin exploring different Jewish views on politics, religion and lifestyle.


Places to begin to see the world through the Jewish eyes of those with different political views:

If you're on the left,  visit:

The Jerusalem Post.  As described on wikipedia.org:

"While it was once regarded as left-wing, the paper underwent a noticeable shift to the right in the late 1980s. Under the new ownership and editorial leadership of editor-in-chief David Horovitz since 2004, the paper's political identity has moved to a more complex centrist position. Examples of this shift include support for the August 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the paper's advocacy for privatization of Israeli religious institutions."

Commentary Magazine.  As described on wikipedia.org:

"Commentary Magazine is a monthly American magazine on politics,Judaism social and cultural issues. . . . The magazine was one of the leading voices of neoconservatism by 1976, and remains so today, although in the 21st century it has less influence than before. Benjamin Balint says it was the "Contentious Magazine That Transformed the Jewish Left Into the Neoconservative Right" Historian Richard Pells concludes that "no other journal of the past half century has been so consistently influential, or so central to the major debates that have transformed the political and intellectual life of the United States."

World Jewish Digest

Arutz Sheva.  As described on wikipedia.org:

"Arutz Sheva is an Israeli media network identifying with religious zionism . . .. Arutz Sheva sees itself as "the only independent national radio station in Israel" and a counterbalance to "the 'negative thinking' and 'post-Zionist' attitudes so prevalent in Israel's liberal-left media."  . . . Arutz Sheva is regarded as the voice of the Israeli settlement movement."

The Israel Project.  As described on wikipedia.org:

"The Israel Project (TIP) [as it is described by its supporters] 'works tirelessly to help protect Israel by improving Israel's image'. In their online mission statement they describe themselves as being "devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace."

Criticism of TIP includes describing it as 'a right-wing media advocacy group' using 'pro-settlement fear-mongering talking points' which are "incendiary, dangerous, and counterproductive",and argue that its rhetoric and alliance with extremist figures only serves to simultaneously undermine the image of the State of Israel and TIP's stated purpose."

If you're on the right: visit:

The Forward newspaper. As described on wikipedia.org:

"The publication began in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily issued by dissidents from the Socialist Labor Party of Daniel DeLeon. As a privately-owned publication loosely affiliated with the Socialist Party of America Forverts achieved massive circulation and considerable political influence during the first three decades of the 20th Century.  . . . As the influence of the Socialist Party in both American politics and in the Jewish community waned, the paper joined the American liberal mainstream though it maintained a social democratic orientation. The English version has some standing in the Jewish community as an outlet of liberal policy analysis."

Haaretz newspaper.  As described on wikipedia.org:

Haaretz describes itself as broadly liberal on domestic issues and international affairs. It is described [by others] alternatively as liberal, centre-left, left-wing and hard left, . . . as "Israel's most vehemently anti-settlement daily paper." According to the BBC it has a moderate stance on foreign policy and security issues. . . .

US weekly The Nation describes Haaretz as "Israel's liberal beacon," citing its editorials voicing opposition to the occupation, the security barrier, discriminatory treatment of Arab citizens, and the mindset that led to the Second Lebanon War.

The New Israel Fund.  As described on wikipedia.org:

"NIF describes itself as "the leading organization committed to democratic change within Israel" and its objective as "social justice and equality for all Israelis." It envisages Israel as "a state that ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, without regard to religion, race or gender." It advocates for civill and human rights, religious tolerance and pluralism, and closing the sociall and economic in Israeli society, especially those among Jews and Arabs.

NIF is opposed to the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. It has stated that it does not support global BDS and will not support organizations with BDS programs but that its policy allows NIF the discretion to "engage in dialogue with an important organization that signs one letter supporting divestment rather than summarily dismissing them". Naomi Paiss, Director of Communications described the campaign as "a tactic that embodies the message that Israel cannot and will not change itself, and for that reason, we think it is inflammatory and counter-productive".  Jeffrey Goldberg writing in The Atlantic, criticized NIF for not defunding grantees that "support BDS, even incidentally", describing it as a "bright-line" issue."

Ir Amim. As described by NGO Monitor (http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/ir_amim)

  • "Ir Amim’s activities include “Monitoring and exposing critical developments in Jerusalem,” “legal advocacy,” “policy advocacy,” and running highly politicized "tours" of Jerusalem and the separation barrier.
  • Although it has been described as “work[ing] toward coexistence in Jerusalem,” an Ir Amim official said that the group was “seeking to advance a political agenda, and was not an organization geared to promote coexistence.”
  • Ir Amim promotes the Palestinian narrative on Jerusalem, including claims that "government powers" are being handed over to the settler organizations” and "archeological digs have become an important tool in the fight for control of [the area around the Old City].”
  • Ir Amim minimizes the security threat to Israel, for instance on the Shuafat Refugee camp– “With respect to security, Shuafat RC is an overcrowded and impoverished Palestinian ‘ghetto’ in the heart of Jerusalem whose inhabitants defy Israeli control; it is thus perceived as a potential security threat by Israeli authorities (despite the fact that the camp has never been a source of major security problems)”

     

  • Places to begin to explore different Jewish religious worlds and lifestyles.

    If you're non-observant or secular visit:

    Jewish Action, the magazine of the Orthodox Union
    Tradition: a Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought

    Aish HaTorah.  As described on wikipedia.org:

    "Aish HaTorah is a Jewish Orthodox Ashkenazi organization and yeshiva. Aish HaTorah is actively pro-Israel and encourages Jewish people to visit Israel and connect to the land and its history. From a religious perspective, however, it follows a Charedi philosophy. Some have asserted that the organisation reflects a more Religious Zionist philosophy in its attachment to Israel, promoting Jewish pride and by sending young American Jews to Israel. The organization's stated mission is "providing opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds to discover their heritage."

    If you're observant visit:

    The Baltimore Jewish Times
    The Chicago Jewish Times
    The New York Jewish Week
    The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
    The American Jewish World (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
    The Intermountain Jewish News (Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Montana)
    Jewish Herald-Voice (Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast)
    The Arizona Jewish Post
    The Jewish Observer (Los Angeles)
    Jweekly.com (San Francisco Bay area)

    Reform Judaism Magazine
    CJ Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism

    And if you are over 30 visit:

    Heeb Magazine  (we won't even try to describe it.  Fair warning: be prepared to be offended from time to time.)



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