The vast majority of American Jews share a vision of a democratic, Jewish-majority Israel, that will be secured through a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we also believe in a pluralistic Israel, in which the equal rights of all groups will be upheld, and the equal standing of all streams of Judaism guaranteed.
But are the organizations requesting our support equally committed to these ideals? Do they use our support to promote our vision? Or is our support liable to be exploited by those who would lead Israel in other directions?
The urgency of this question has risen sharply of late. For decades, American Jews have taken comfort in the understanding that Israel always strives for peace. But the uncomfortable truth that a growing number are recognizing is this: The government of Binyamin Netanyahu - its protestations notwithstanding - is not pursuing a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Recently, the Netanyahu government deliberately sidestepped another opportunity for meaningful negotiation in Amman, Jordan, refusing to submit detailed proposals on territory and security as requested by the diplomatic Quartet. Mr. Netanyahu once again revealed his preference for a 'manageable Occupation', alongside a continuing effort to deepen Israel's footprint on the West Bank.
But we do believe that the Israeli government is obliged always to do whatever it can to promote a two-state peace, and certainly nothing that undermines it. American Jews - the vast majority of whom support a two-state solution - have a right to expect that they can honestly vouch for the government of Israel in this regard. But, should they find that the actions of the Israeli government contradict this goal, they must make sure that their welcome desire to support Israel is not being misdirected to reinforce the Occupation.
We suggest that American Jews begin to carefully consider these questions and take action when appropriate:
- Does my Jewish organization stifle or encourage open conversation about Israeli government policy? Does my synagogue make sure to include a spectrum of voices in its Israel education programming? Does it give a platform to pro-settlement or pro-annexation speakers under the banner of 'pro-Israel', or - worse - does it allow this point of view to monopolize the 'pro-Israel' title?
- Does my Jewish organization support or oppose the expansion of settlements? Does any part of my charitable giving reach organizations in Israel that promote settlements?
- Does my Jewish organization provide political support for policies that stand in the way of meaningful negotiations for a two-state solution?
- Does the Hebrew school to which I send my children display maps showing the Green Line? Or do my children see only the 'Greater Land of Israel', where the Jewish people will be a minority in a few years' time?
- Do I use my consumer dollars to buy from Israel within the Green Line? Or do I spend my money on products from settlements, which are misleadingly promoted as part of 'Buy Israel' campaigns?
- When I visit Israel, does the organization running my trip expose participants to a variety of perspectives? Do I participate in events in Israel or am I hosted by groups there that are billed as 'pro-Israel', but in reality are designed to undermine the spirit of reconciliation and negate the possibility of Israeli-Palestinian compromise?