A Grain of Sand

"I will multiply you as the stars in heaven and as the sand upon the shore." - Genesis 22:17

"I can see the master's hand in every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand." - Dylan, Every Grain of Sand (on Shot of Love)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

J Street Conference

Rabbi David Saperstein, a national Jewish leader and a mentor to me, delivered the opening remarks at the J-Street Conference. His remarks to the group are below.

I agree with his main point: if those who consider themselves to be pro-Israel chase away those who have legitimate moral questions about Israel, this works to Israel's political and moral disadvantage. And, if those who criticize Israel don't ground their criticisms in a way that takes account of the complexity of the situation they do real damage to Israel.

Here you go....

Rabbi David Saperstein Addresses J Street's Conference from Isaac Luria on Vimeo.


  1. I think Israel needs all the support it can get. Especially in America... the last country on earth whose government is righteous and sympathetic to Israel's right to exist and defend itself against terrorism. I think it is insidious and shameful when Jews who don't live in Israel, and don't have to live or die by the policy and security decisions it makes, do everything they can to criticize and undermine the Jewish state... by holding it to impossible moral standards and pressuring it to make dangerous concessions that no elected Israeli government in history thinks it is sane to make.

  2. Brett - Just saw your comment. I hear you.

    First of all, Israel has few better friends in Washington than Rabbi Saperstein. He has a thirty year record of impassioned defense of and powerful mobilization on behalf of the Jewish state. There are few American Jews who can be said to have done more on behalf of Israel in the political arena.

    Second of all, I believe that diaspora Jews do have a right to criticize Israeli policy. We always have to make sure that the foundation of our criticism is love for Israel. I have great anxiety about whether Israel can survive as a Jewish state if it continues along its current path. Of course, I could be wrong, but those Jews who agree with me would be failing the Jewish people and failing Israel if they kept silent while (they believe) Israel puts itself in an increasingly impossible situation.

    Finally, you refer to dangerous concessions "that no elected Israeli government in history thinks is sane to make." I just don't think that is true. Yitzchak Rabin, a great general who became Prime Minister, was the principal player in the Oslo accords. Look at an map from the accords. Clearly, Rabin thought that this was best for Israel (obviously, the right wing fanatic who assassinated him thought that it was perilous). There is quite a range of opinion among Israel's leaders as to what is possible. The very right-wing stance of the current Prime Minister shouldn't obscure that fact.