My Al Jazeera Debate with Rabbi Ari Hart


Al Jazeera has just published a “point-counterpoint” dialogue on Zionism between me and Rabbi Ari Hart, Assistant Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Director of Recruitment and Admissions at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and founder of the orthodox social justice organization, Uri L’Tzedek.

An excerpt from Rabbi Hart’s piece:

The state of Israel is the single best expression of the dreams of the Jewish people to have been realised in thousands of years. Since it was founded in 1948, it has meant that thousands of persecuted and displaced Jews from Ethiopia and Arab countries have been able to find safety and that millions of oppressed Russian Jews have been able to freely practice their faith. It has resulted in an explosion of Jewish culture and life unlike anything we have witnessed in millennia and led to a flourishing of the Jewish faith, with more people studying the Torah than at any other point in Jewish history.

And it has not only been positive for the Jewish people: the state of Israel has produced scientific, literary, medical, agricultural, and academic advances that have benefitted billions of people across the planet.

I am always confounded by my Jewish brothers and sisters who do not recognise that the state of Israel has represented the realisation of a dream for our people, and how vital its health and security is to our continued flourishing.

And from my counterpoint:

While Rabbi Hart is certainly correct when he asserts the ways the state of Israel has benefitted the Jewish people, I am struck by the fact that he is relatively silent on the precise nature of the “nightmare” it has created for the indigenous people of the land.

I believe that as Jews, we must be willing to own this dark history and say it out loud: during 1947 to 1948, Zionist military forces either displaced or forcibly expelled over 700,000 Palestinians then forbid their return, creating what is today the largest refugee population in the world. Today more than 4,000,000 Palestinians harbour their own dream of return – not to a mythic Biblical homeland but to a land that they remember only too well.

In short, Israel’s founding is inextricably bound up with an inherent injustice to the people who had made a home in this land. More critically, it is an injustice that continues until today through policies of dispossession and displacement designed to maintain a Jewish demographic majority in the state of Israel.

5 thoughts on “My Al Jazeera Debate with Rabbi Ari Hart

  1. Ruth Neff

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant Rosen,
    We very much appreciate your views and concerns for having a just plan to help the Palestinian and Jewish to be able to live peacefully together.

  2. Robinson Bradley

    Lets say,for the sake of argument that both rabbis are right ,which may be the where is king Solomon to make things right

  3. Carolina

    I find it interesting that neither rabbi mentions the huge role that anti-Semitism and racism play in the conflict. Zionism was a nationalist movement born of efforts to address rampant European anti-Semitism by Jews who dreamed of creating a world free of Jewish oppression. (Religion didn’t much of a role in early Zionism.) Support for the establishment of Israel allowed Europeans to assuage their guilt over the killing of 2/3 of European Jews. They got rid of their problem by transferring traumatized survivors to a land where Palestinians had lived for generations, and then blamed Israeli Jews when things inevitably went awry.

    1. Ruth Schoenberg

      Israel has been the home of the Jewish people for the last 3000 yrs…to question that is to deny the earth is round…it is for the Palestinians to come to terms with that truth…then hopefully some formula for peace can be found


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