Sunset in Tel Aviv

Sunset in Tel Aviv

Are you worried about whether there is a two state solution in Israel? So is Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek. He sent this message to his congregation. (Thank you to Rabbi Milder for letting me reprint this.)

The Two State and the One State

I watched the press conference held by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu this past Wednesday.

The first question asked of Trump by an Israeli reporter was, “Are you giving up on the two-state solution?” His answer was “I’m looking at the two state and the one state. I support whatever the two parties like the best.”

This is a change in policy that should be of concern to all of us. For the past 15 years, each of the past three Presidents has explicitly endorsed a commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That means that they have favored a secure Israel as well as an independent Palestinian state.

When Trump says that a one-state option is under consideration, our country is no longer advocating a vision of two states for two peoples.

I share the concern of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Association of Reform Zionists of America, who responded to the President’s shift in policy this way:

We continue to envision Israel thriving as a Jewish State, living in peace and security alongside a Palestinian State that would fulfill the legitimate national aspirations of its people.

Reform rabbis and Reform Zionist leaders are dismayed that President Trump has backed away from decades of bipartisan US policy supporting the two-state solution. The President opined that a one-state solution might also bring peace. However, given demographic realities in the region, one democratic state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River would eventually bring an end to Israel’s character as a Jewish State. The alternative, Israel’s rejecting democracy, should be unthinkable.

I believe it is more urgent than ever to recommit to the vision of a two-state solution, and to articulate that vision in the public sphere. It is, I believe, the only way to ensure the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Rabbi Larry Milder

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Menachem Creditor

josh_kornbluth

On August 13th and August 23rd, Josh Kornbluth and Rabbi Menachem Creditor engaged in a public conversation about Israel, Zionism, Judaism, Peace, and American Jewish activism.

Overwhelmed by Argument
with Josh Kornbluth and Rabbi Menachem Creditor
The description of and rules for the conversation are below. It was an intense conversation between two loving friends who both love Israel and ache for Peace, who both believe in two states and are both pained by Israeli and Palestinian deaths. The disagreements were passionate, nuanced, and respectful. This was, of course, only the beginning of the work ahead.

The Rules of the Conversation
We care, and because we care, we despair. Will there be any outcome for Israelis and Palestinians, for Israel and Palestine, in which both Peoples are acknowledged and respected? Where one group’s national aspirations are not deemed unworthy? This is the conversation Josh wants to have, the conversation we believe we need. We need is as Jews. We need it as people. We need it as one People among many Peoples. Will there ever be a solution? We don’t know. We worry. Everyone suffers when some suffer. And so someone who cares is convening a loving, respectful conversation with a very clear mandate: More hope, More dignity, More love.

Here are the rules for the conversation Josh invited us to share:

1) If your position is that Israel should cease to exist as the Jewish Homeland, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
2) If you believe Jews are better than Palestinians, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
3) If you believe that only Jews have the right to a state, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
4) If you believe Israel’s concerns about security are imagined, that is not the conversation we are going to have.

The jumping-off-point for our conversations were these two books:

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

The Crisis of Zionism by Peter Beinart

Videos of the Two-Night Conversation are now online!
Part I
Part II

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3 teens kidnapped

Perhaps you have been following the kidnapping of 3 boys in Israel. One was age 19 and the other two were only 16. There was steely hope that some terrorist group would claim responsibility and demand money or the release of some of their jailed compatriots. But unfortunately it was not to be and their bodies were found yesterday. Apparently they were murdered soon after they were kidnapped.

The reactions have ranged from, now we must kill all terrorists to now Israel must get out of the West Bank to, what I find more realistic, so long as each side is in such pain neither side will recognize the other’s pain and no progress can be expected.

A few years ago a friend of mine went to live in Israel for a year. Her American eyes were opened to the completely different culture of that region. She told me, “Here, to turn the other cheek is seen as expressing weakness and you can’t negotiate from a place of weakness. Here you must return a blow for a blow or you will not be respected.”

Wow. Yeah, that’s really not American cultural thinking at all. So I sit in America, safe, and know that I cannot judge the actions of those who are under attack daily. And by that I mean everyone in that anguished land.

What I do know is that Jews are responsible for one and other. Now don’t fall over in a faint. We are all responsible for each other AND the sad reality is that very few non-Jews will stand up for a Jew. (Did you know that the great American songbird, Kate Smith, received death threats for singing God Bless America BECAUSE it was written by a Jew? That was less than a century ago.) So to all the non-Jews reading this – thank you. I know you would not sit idly by as your spouse, children, in-laws were threatened. Non-Jews in the Jewish family means that more people will, like Kate Smith, stand up and say, not on my watch.

All I ask of you is to say a prayer (I don’t care whether it involved “God” or not, you can just address yourself to the great cosmic wonder that is the universe). A prayer, or a directing of your thoughts to this: May the families of these boys be comforted. May they know that we all offer them our hearts. And may the people who did this terrible deed be healed to the point that they realize that it was wrong. May they come away from the brink of a despair so God-awful that murder seemed reasonable.

Pour out your own love on a world that so very much needs it. Need an idea? Look at this —

A woman wrote:

Who can begin to recount the kindness and giving we have witnessed over the past difficult 18 days?

This Friday, wherever you are, please do an act of kindness or giving in memory of Our Boys and the lives they led.
One catch – please do the act of kindness to someone for whom it is difficult for you to be kind. We all have them. Please do something generous to the neighbor you dislike. Do something kind to your coworker with whom you have virulently differing political views. Give something to the very needy family member you can’t stand. It doesn’t need to be big, and it doesn’t have to be given in public.

In memory of Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal.

Let’s fight the unkindness in ourselves. Begin here, in our own hearts and minds.

May peace come to all of us, everywhere and may it begin with us.

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Jerusalem skyline

Jerusalem skyline

Robinson's Arch

Robinson’s Arch, south of the plaza

wall mens side

A view of the plaza and the wall

Shuk

In the shuk

Cafe in the old city

Cafe in the Old City – great shawarma!

Jerusalem street

Jerusalem Street

Light rail

An IDF soldier back to back with a Hasidic teen on the light rail

Baklava booth

Baklava booth in the shuk

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I just spent 10 days in Jerusalem to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Women of the Wall.

WoW1

Wow2

Wow3

Hundreds of women prayed at the Western Wall together. The cantors were put up on chairs so that they could be heard by all the women and lead the singing and chanting. The plaza was filled with elation.

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The archaeological at Shiloh

Day 2 we traveled to Shiloh, the ancient capitol of Israel before Jerusalem was built. These archaeologists think they have found the tabernacle where the Tablets of the Law were kept.

Christians being baptized in the Jordan

Next we drove to the Jordan River, where Joshua brought the Israelites into the Land of Israel. These Christians have come to the river to be baptized. Unfortunately they did not seem to be aware that the river is far from clean at this point.

The Judean Desert

In the afternoon we drove ATVs across the Judean Desert. Hot Hot Hot!

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Day One

I joined the Beth Jacob congregational trip to Israel in June. The idea was to follow the books of Tanach (the bible) from the time that the Israelites entered the land of Israel in the book of Joshua and then trace the history through the books of Judges, Samuel, Kings, visiting the sites referenced in the books. We had a brilliant woman as our guide and she make every minute a ball — despite the temperatures.

I’ll be adding photos this week so I can share our experience with you.

There is a tourist attraction called Mini Israel. It is just that, a little replica of some of Israel’s most important sites. Funny as this sounds, we went there first!

It was already late in the day and we headed into Jerusalem, stopped at the Kotel (the Western Wall) before heading to our hotel.

The Western Wall - Men's section

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