Thursday, January 25, 2007

On Israel: Hope, Safety, Identity, Existence

Jack has an important post here on a longer article by Daniel Gordis here regarding the future of Israel.

I read it all. Sobering. Troubling.

"This is not about Israel," Gordis writes. "It’s not even about Zionism. It’s about the future of what we call the Jewish people. Hezbollah gets that. Hamas gets it. Ahmadinejad gets it. Gaarder gets it. Why don’t we?"

From my tiny, somewhat ignorant perspective, I wonder if the answer can be found in an assertion he made in one of his earlier books: identity.

As much as American Jews support Israel with words, money, people, are we willing to take a stand and identify ourselves as Jews before we identify ourselves as Americans? What about non-Israeli Jews in the rest of the world?

Do we really believe that safety can be found in a renewal of hope, justice, all the good that the State of Israel stands for, or do most of us in the Diaspora make a louder statement in how we identify ourselves, that real safety is found by hiding our Jewishness in a larger non-Jewish culture?

We grumble and complain about anti-Jewish, anti-Israel media bias. We condemn antisemitic speech and actions. We urge our government(s) to support Israel, to stand against the fanaticism and hate that seeks to rid the world not only of the State of Israel, but of all Jews.

At the same time, so many hide their identity as Jews while going about day to day business. I see it. I've been called a "religious nut" because I'm visible as a Jew. I've been called that by other Jews. (And not as a joke.)

Are those of us in the Diaspora saying that it's okay if the world's hatred is focused on Israel because then at least it's not focused on us? Do we really think that if, G-d forbid, Israel disappeared, we'd be safe again? Do we really not get it that all of us are at risk, that Judaism itself is at risk, and that Israel is carrying the biggest burden?

Do we care enough about being Jewish that we're willing to acknowledge the problem so we can find a solution?


Jack's Shack said...

Hard questions to answer. I am still mulling it all over.

Sheyna Galyan said...

I was going to say that asking the questions was the easy part and answering them infinitely harder, but I'm not entirely convinced of that. One of my most influential teachers of Torah taught me early on that if you can isolate a specific question that gets at the heart and soul of the matter (sometimes known as the "right" question), the answer becomes clear(er). Based on Gordis' article, I wonder if he's operating on the same philosophy.

I'm not sure I have answers either. Or better questions, for that matter.