Friday, May 4, 2012

Civility in Discourse About Israel

Click here for our parsha packet of materials on the topic of civility in discourse regarding Israel.  The packet features articles about the Gordis - Beinart debate at Columbia  (read about it here and watch the whole thing here, an essay from Sh'ma on strategies in encouraging civil discourse on Israel, a copy of the rabbi's letter to the Methodists (of which  I am a signatory ) that successfully persuaded them to refrain from endorsing boycott sanctions of the Jewish state this week, and source material on civility from rabbinic and other Jewish sources, based primarily on verses from this week's portion, Kedoshim.  Also, you'll find mission statements and resolutions from two congregations' Israel committees, demonstrating how they addressed this important issue.  What's clear is that American Jews need to feel comfortable expressing concerns that are heightened and existential regarding Israel's survival, without being labeled and demonized.  What's so difficult is that those presumed existential dangers are often diametrically opposing - some say the greatest threat is to Israel's security (from outside enemies) and others say it is to Israel's democracy and Jewish nature (from internal threats).  And how does one marginalize extremism without excluding those holding extreme positions them from the conversation?  These are matters that every congregation (indeed, every Jew) needs to address - as we are addressing them at TBE.

Click here for the packet.

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