For the American, a rule’s a rule; for an Israeli, it’s a guideline

For the American, a rule’s a rule; for an Israeli, it’s a guideline. If something else happens to work better than the original plan, why stick to it?
In negotiations, Americans have a win-win mentality. Israelis just have “win.”
“This comes from Israelis’ attitude towards boundaries,” Kedem says. “Beginning with the fact Israel still doesn’t have an agreement about its borders. We’re constantly pushing against physical and mental boundaries. … We know we’ve crossed a boundary only when we’re pushed back. If there is no pushback, we understand we haven’t reached the boundary yet. That’s just how Israelis are brought up.”

Orli Santo, “Selling Each Other Short?”, The Jewish Week (2 August 2013), 11.

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The Jewish comm…

The Jewish community will only be considered a serious partner in campus discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once we demonstrate our commitment to making the necessary sacrifices for peace. If we can back up our rhetoric with serious action and sustained political engagement to achieve a two-state solution, hopefully we will empower pragmatic moderates on the other side to do the same.

Shayna Howitt and Zoe Lewin, “Frustration, but with Hope,” The Jewish Journal (31 May – 6 June 2013), 26.

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Yom HaShoah and Yom Ha’Atzmaut’s Timing Seems Like Shiva

There are seven days between Yom HaShoah and Yom Ha’Atzmaut. It is as if the entire country sits shiva, mourning the tragedy of the Holocaust, then rises to be comforted by the existence of the State of Israel. While the pairing of the Holocaust and Israeli independence has its historical problems, for me it remains a powerful narrative, one that has imprinted itself in my own family history.

Rabbi Mishael Zion, “Israel at 65: Celebrating is Not Enough”, The Jewish Week (12 April 2013), 23.

Geography has not changed much in the Middle East over the past several thousand years

Geography has not changed much in the Middle East over the past several thousand years. Modern Israel remains at the crossroads of the Middle East and in the crosshairs of potential regional and extra-regional great power rivalries. Egypt is certain once again to emerge as a strong regional force; so too, for that matter, will powerful states to the north, be they Iraq or its successor state, Iran/Persia, or Turkey. The dilemma of whom to choose as an ally, if anyone, and how to resist predations by external powers will never be far from the thoughts of future Israeli policymakers, just as they were for those of the rulers of the ancient Jewish kingdoms.

Dov S. Zakheim, “The Geopolitics of Scripture,” The American Interest (July/August 2012), 12.

Similarity of Kingdom of David & Solomon re: Peripheral Powers & Alliances

The original post-1948 Israeli policy of relying on an “outer circle” of friendships—Iran, Turkey, Ethiopia—to counter the hostility of neighboring Arab states proved modestly useful for a time. It came apart when Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt in March 1979, which seemed to reduce the need for a peripheral strategy. It came completely apart when Iran was taken over by the mullahs that same year. Israel’s strained relationship with Turkey after a kind of golden age of cooperation lasting no more than two decades, and the general regional unrest of the past two years, have forced Israel to look further afield for support, to India and China, for example. But it has no real alliances other than with the United States. Should America indeed pull back from the Middle East, even if it were to continue to arm Israel, the Jewish state would in effect have become a kind of super Sweden—a de facto non-aligned regional superpower, much as was the kingdom of David and Solomon in its day.

Dov S. Zakheim, “The Geopolitics of Scripture,” The American Interest (July/August 2012), 11.

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Like the Kingdom of Judah, Judea and Samaria today are far more religiously and politically conservative than the rest of Israel

Like the Kingdom of Judah, Judea and Samaria today are far more religiously and politically conservative than the rest of Israel; a major proportion of the settler movement, if not a majority, is dominated by nationalist-minded Orthodox Jews. This is increasingly the case in Jerusalem as well, where the ultra-Orthodox haredim form a plurality and constitute the most potent political force in the city. That portion of Israel inside the Green Line, particularly the urbanized stretch along the Mediterranean coast from Tel Aviv to Haifa often referred to as “North Tel Aviv”, reflects many of the characteristics of the ancient northern kingdom. Dominated by secular values, far more prosperous and diversified economically, it is the heartland of what has been termed recently “the start-up nation.” The coastal area and its elites have little sympathy for the settlers, the haredim and the political and religious values they espouse.

Dov S. Zakheim, “The Geopolitics of Scripture,” The American Interest (July/August 2012), .9

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There certainly remains a wellspring of strong diaspora Jewish support for Israel

There certainly remains a wellspring of strong diaspora Jewish support for Israel, and even for many of its right-wing policies. But that support increasingly is limited to American Orthodox Jews, who themselves are increasingly alienated from the rest of the American Jewish community. (Most Americans who support right-wing Israeli policies are religious Christians, who far outnumber American Jews.) While the high birthrates of the Orthodox point to their growing proportion within the American Jewish community, there could not be an Orthodox majority among American Jews for several more decades. What this means is fairly obvious: If the American political class judges that U.S. interests in the Middle East and in Israel no longer warrant the attention and expense characteristic of the past half century, the power of pro-Israel sentiment in American society is increasingly insufficient to thwart or reverse that judgment.

Dov S. Zakheim, “The Geopolitics of Scripture,” The American Interest (July/August 2012), 16.

“All Zionists agree also that an undivided Jerusalem must remain Israel’s capital”

All Zionists agree also that an undivided Jerusalem must remain Israel’s capital. This is a matter of intense importance, not only to Israel and its supporters, but to humanity as a whole. During the nineteen years that Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, thirty-four of the thirty-five synagogues in the Jewish Quarter were contemptuously blasted into dusty rubble. Thirty-eight thousand Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives were wantonly destroyed; many tombstones were used to pave Jordanian army latrines. Even Christians residing in Israel weren’t not allowed to visit their shrines in the Old City.

Roland B. Gittelsohn, Partners in Destiny: Reform Judaism and Zionism (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1984), 10.

“To understand Zionism in anything more than a superficial sense, we need to examine its indigenous origins in Jewish tradition”

To describe Zionism purely as a modern, socio-political phenomenon makes about as much sense as to explain my career entirely in terms of events since the day I was ordained a rabbi, as if my genetic heritage, my childhood and adolescence, my undergraduate studies and extracurricular activities had nothing to do with making me what I am today.

 

Of course there have been external tendencies and trends which have helped shape the nature of Zionism, among them Emancipation, Enlightenment, massive anti-Semitism, and the burgeoning of nationalism throughout the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But these have been like the winds and rains which influence the ultimate growth of a tree. Without seeds and roots, wind and rain would produce only gullies, not living organisms. To understand Zionism in anything more than a superficial sense, we need to examine its indigenous origins in Jewish tradition.

Roland B. Gittelsohn, Partners in Destiny: Reform Judaism and Zionism (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1984), 1.