Friday, August 01, 2008
A new Zionist discourse
For years, Meretz USA has been an invaluable source of information, opinion and analysis about Israel and the Middle East. We have hosted lectures and conference calls with prominent figures on the Israeli left. We publish our thoughtful quarterly magazine, Israel Horizons, and a biweekly e-newsletter. We host the Meretz USA blog. We issue press releases and statements, and we continue to conduct our unique annual weeklong seminar in Israel, the “Israel Symposium”.
But the one thing we haven’t done enough is to let you, our supporters, make your voices heard on the issues we progressive Zionists care about so deeply.
This is about to change.
Starting this summer, Meretz USA will be launching a new initiative that will let you direct your concerns about Israel straight to the people that matter most: the Israeli decision-makers who are determining that country’s future.
Meretz USA invites you to join us in a new Zionist discourse. When additional West Bank settlements are built, we will let you tell Israel’s Housing Minister what you think about these obstacles for peace. When members of Knesset try to pass laws that institutionalize discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens (as they did only recently), we will initiate a campaign that allows you to tell the bill’s sponsors that we can’t rightly defend a policy which severs Zionism from democracy and equal rights.
Of course, we also look forward to campaigns that express support, not only disappointment. If an Israeli Prime Minister bravely moves to dismantle unauthorized West Bank outposts, for example, we’ll want him (or her) to know this step has the support of thousands and thousands of concerned American Jews.
Prime Minister Olmert recently called for a “new paradigm” in the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Well we agree, and we are guided in this regard by the clarion words of the late Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg:
“The American Jewish community is torn right now between its love of Israel and its distaste for Israel's policies. We who love Israel have an obligation to say what we believe... We have long lived with the notion that Israeli governments, from right to left, have tried to inculcate in us - that they determine policy, and we are privileged to say amen on cue. This nonsense is now bankrupt.”
Keep your eye out for our leadoff campaign calling on the Housing Minister of Israel to stop building in disputed territory around Jerusalem, and when you receive it, we encourage you to sign on, and then share it widely with your colleagues, friends and family.
It is time for progressive American Jews who care deeply about Israel’s future to tell its leaders what we think – not count on our government to do so on our behalf. It is time to engage with Israel, not turn our backs in despair. It is time for a clear, unapologetic progressive Zionist voice!