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, June 2, 2011

What's the Deal in Israel? Ctd.

One of the things I'm becoming interested in is how we talk about Israel within the Jewish community. What parts of the discussion are "out of the question," or "beyond the pale" in the debate? I'm interested in this for two reasons. Philosophically I see deep and powerful and open debate as essential virtue in Jewish life; I see it as a religious principal, really.

Practically, I think that Israel's future depends on our being able to talk in an open way about what is best for Israel. It depends on our not branding anyone as an "Israel hater" if they make an argument about what is best for Israel's future.

Along these lines, as I indicated in a previous post ("What's the Deal in Israel?"), I was pretty confused by the response of many American Jews to President Obama's proposal of using the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations ("with land swaps," as he put it). This was something that has been part of the discussion for years, it has been the basis of previous negotiations that Israel has participated in, it was the de facto position of the previous two American Administrations....and now everyone is outraged at Obama.

To add to my confusion, I just read an article in which Meir Dagan, the former head of Mossad (Israeli intelligence), urges a return to the 1967 borders and pursuit of the Saudi Peace Plan from 2002.

The point here is not that Dagan is necessarily correct (I happen to think that he is) but that you have the former head of Mossad using the same language as Obama used - language that caused Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to say that Obama was throwing Israel "under the bus."

Does that mean that the former head of Mossad is throwing Israel under the bus? Does he hate Israel? I would hate to be the person to tell Dagan that he's an Israel-hater. This is a guy who headed an elite military unit in combating PLO violence, and who the right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had enough faith in to appoint to head Mossad.

I think the message from the history of actual negotiations, and from the criticism of the present leadership offered by Dagan and many others, is that there is not just one set of solutions that can be considered "pro-Israel."

I think we have to be careful about slinging arrows about people on the Israel issue. Because in Israel, many extremely committed, extremely thoughtful people, from intellectuals to soldiers, people who have put their lives on the line for Israel and whose lives are wrapped up with its future, often propose ideas that over here get you branded as naive at best, or even worse, an enemy of Israel.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps this odd reaction to Obama's remarks is less about Israel and more about the toxic polarized political climate in this country. Everybody is yelling so loudly that it is hard to hear anything.