On Gaza and Yom Kippur: A Call to Moral Accounting

From my op-ed in this morning’s Sunday Chicago Tribune:

The actions of the Jewish State ultimately reflect upon the Jewish people throughout the world. We in the Diaspora Jewish community have long taken pride in the accomplishments of the Jewish State. As with any family, the success of some reflects a warm light on us all. But pride cannot blind us to the capacity for error on the part of the country we hold so dear. We cannot identify with the successes, but refuse to see the failures.

As we approach Yom Kippur, I call on America’s Jews to examine the Goldstone findings, and consider their implications. In the spirit of the season, we must consider the painful truth of Israel’s behavior in Gaza, and understand that we must work, together, to discover the truth — and then urge on all relevant parties in the search for peace.


8 Comments on “On Gaza and Yom Kippur: A Call to Moral Accounting”

  1. Elaine Waxman says:

    This was brave, and I’m sure you’ll get a good communal thrashing from some segments of the Jewish community, who feel unable to open this door for fear of what else might enter. But if a major challenge of this High Holiday season is to lead us back to the examined life, individually and collectively, then we are compelled to find a way to confront these very complicated, ethical issues. Criticizing the examinations of others does not absolve us of the task before us. I hope those who respond negatively to your opinion piece will not just attempt to explain away what happened and is happening in Gaza as if everything is justifiable in the name of security.

  2. David Bernstein says:

    I’ve never gotten a straight answer to this question from any critic of Israel’s Gaza operation, but maybe you’ll be the first. If Israel’s reaction to Hamas’s rockets was “disproportionate,” what, in your view, would a “proportionate” response be?

    You could also answer this one: if Iranian rockets were to somehow fall on suburban Chicago, what would a “proportionate” U.S. response be?

  3. YBD says:

    Here is a quote from the column:
    ————————————————————–
    As we approach Yom Kippur, I call on America’s Jews to examine the Goldstone findings, and consider their implications. In the spirit of the season, we must consider the painful truth of Israel’s behavior in Gaza, and understand that we must work, together, to discover the truth — and then urge on all relevant parties in the search for peace.
    ————————————————————————-

    What does all this mean? In continuation of the question by David Bernstein about the definition of “proportional responses”, I would like to know what exactly American Jews who think Goldstone was on to something want to do about it. Should American Jews demand that IDF military officers be put on trial for war crimes by some international tribunal? Should American Jews demand that the Obama Administration threaten some sort of sanctions on Israel? Should American Jews threaten Israel in some direct way by threatening to cut relations (i.e. financial contributions, visiting Israel, sending children to study in Israel, etc)?
    The pertinent fact is that THE ISRAELI PUBLIC OVERWHELMINGLY REJECTS GOLDSTONE. So in seeking the “truth” – as the “progressives” see it-, this would mean rejecting the Israeli people’s and government’s rejection of Goldstone. So then, you can leave it in the realm of pious handwringing, or you can try to drive a wedge between American Jewry and Israel. The formation of J-Street and the early days of the Obama Administration led “progressive” Jews to think this might happen, but Obama’s backpedalling on the settlement freeze issue and the Administration’s moving back towards traditional American policy towards the Arab/Israeli conflict shows that the government is NOT interested in getting involved in such a move. This leaves the “progessives” who favor such a wedge alone and as minority of the Jewish community in Israel. AMERICAN JEWRY NEEDS ISRAEL A LOT MORE THAN ISRAEL NEEDS THEM so this minority who are pushing for a confrontation are the ones who will damage their own interests in the long run, but not Israel’s.

  4. JAM says:

    The following collected rare photos from Life Magazine about Israel in 1948.

    http://benatlas.com/2009/07/life-in-israel-in-1948-part-1/

  5. Dianne says:

    In answer to Brant’s comments, I would ask the question, “How do we, as Americans, feel about torture, holding prisoners without trial and compromizing American civil liberties in the name of keeping us safe from terror?”

    During the years of the Bush administration, I found myself appalled by the escalating excesses against what I believe to be the ethical foundation of the American nation.

    Would I feel different if the bombs/planes were aimed at Chicago? Probably not. I still believe that war is not the answer to peace.

    This is not the first time that I find the Israeli response to be “over the top”. As a nation that is founded on religious beliefs and values in which I believe, I hold them to a higher standard, much as I do the United States.

    I believe that the conflict between Israel and the Muslim countries is based on a shared unique strength–their belief in tradition and the value of an ancestoral past. Until both sides are able to put away the past, and to talk about the future, their strengths will be only weakness.

  6. Eric Selinger says:

    “AMERICAN JEWRY NEEDS ISRAEL A LOT MORE THAN ISRAEL NEEDS THEM so this minority who are pushing for a confrontation are the ones who will damage their own interests in the long run, but not Israel’s.”

    Thank you for being so blunt about this, YBD.

    I don’t believe that it is true, and I doubt that I will be around long enough for this particular “long run” to play out in any unambiguous way. But it’s quite…hmmm… let’s say it’s quite clarifying to hear it spelled out this way.

    Wedging away into the sunset,
    E


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