Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Loving Israel!

I LOVE ISRAEL! Really, I do! I think that Israel is in many ways the most amazing place in the world. We ask things of Israel, and Israel asks things of itself that no other country in the world would accept as viable requests. Look at what is going on at present with its needs for reasonable defense, addressing the aftermath of the Carmel devastation, the many issues in its own economy, and then the Sudanese and others who want refuge there, the illegal immigrants who want rights there, and on the list goes.

I think often that Israel is the neighborhood to which everyone that no one else wants in their community comes. And Israel is expected to be hospitable, support all who need support and provide whatever is asked of Israel, both from its own citizens as well as anyone else who voices such expectations. As I state in one of my lectures in a Graduate Level course I am teaching at Gratz College in Philadelphia:

Many feel that too much is asked from a nation so young and so small. Yet, that is irrelevant both to its critics and many of its supporters. If the Jewish story of Exodus from slavery and oppression is so archetypal and it is, and the State of Israel is the homeland for the people who are the focus of this story, then how can we and how can Israel NOT respond to such cries for help that come from within as well as to its borders? Clearly, we are aware of this thinking, both from a social justice point of view in our world today and from our Biblical roots in which we are adjoined 36 times in the text of the Torah to “not oppress or ignore the cry of the stranger” precisely because we were “strangers in the land of Egypt” and know fully well how such treatment felt.

So, how can Israel survive? It does and it even thrives as well… It is really all quite amazing. Israel IS AMAZING! That is not to say that I agree with every single thing that happens in Israel. That is also not to say that Israel is above and beyond reproach. No human or human institution in the world is! Clearly there are problems and issues that make us step back and say, “What are you thinking? What are you doing?” No one claims “foul play” when we do this for our own countries in which those of us outside of Israel live and SO MUCH has been written on exactly this very right and privilege of free speech. BUT, somehow we are expected to have undying and unconditional love for all that Israel does and never consider that anything done in Israel is not 100% correct by too many people.

We were taught in this past Parsha (Shmini) and the previous Parshiot HaShavuah the various types and details of the different types of sacrifices that we were to bring to G-d so long ago. While all of the details and points of differentiation are indicated regarding all of the different types of offerings, it is indicated that the Shelemim – the well being sacrifices – are supposed to represent our togetherness – our coming together as one unit that is well, after or aside from different agendas and senses of purpose that are completed. I love that message and think that it is highly instructive for us today. Can’t we all come together and agree that the well being of Israel is critically important and dear to our hear – so much so that it unifies us?

My daughter is presently living in Beer Sheva and going to Medical School there. We have family and friends all over the place. We ourselves are constantly in Israel. We want all or the people we love and all others safe and sound. That is our agenda and we acknowledge that others have different agendas and desires and needs regarding Israel. We want all Israelis, and yes, Palestinians, Druze, Bedouins, Arabs, Christians and all others within its borders to be able to depend on a safe and consistent environment. This is not too much to ask. Yet, it is much harder to achieve.

And when we note that there are those who are not accorded the same rights in our beloved Israel, whether they are those who have been converted to Judaism by legitimate means and are not accepted under newer and more narrow dictates, we ask, WHAT IS WRONG ISRAEL? When we note that rules are changed daily for those not accorded full rights as citizens we want to know HOW CAN ISRAEL DO BETTER? When we look at the need for further cooperation between different factions at historical and religious sites such as the Kotel HaMaaravi, I JUST SHAKE MY HEAD AT WHAT GOES ON IN ISRAEL. When the many groups and peoples who are working cooperatively to live together are not given their rightful place at the table of discussing the future of Israel, I AM SO DISAPPOINTED IN ISRAEL.


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