It is not a great time for Israel right now. The military has pulled out of northern Gaza, and it’s not looking too good. Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman for Hamas, had this strategic planning to share: “What we learned from Hezbollah is that resistance is a choice that can work.” Great. On what could perhaps be called the upside of things, Haaretz reports that 64% of Israelis think that their government should engage with direct talks with Hamas with the aim of establishing a ceasefire. (If you’re interested in signing a petition in support, do it—the more moderate voices in the conversation, the better.)
If that weren’t enough, the New York Times magazine covered the problems of proving you’re Jewish…in the Jewish state. Although the article itself is about getting married, the problems of having a state-regulated religion come to the surface quite often, it seems. (The problems of getting married, while irksome, are surely not as bad as the problem of getting a get, a Jewish divorce, if the rabbinate doesn’t feel like granting you one.)
Talk about having your dirty laundry out there. And there are surely those who will use these two very different situations—military/political and social/legal—to trash Israel, which is a very simple-minded response. I’m put in mind of a conversation I had with a relative. I was trying to explain that the disaffected youth with whom I passed my time—people who went to protests for fun in college and now almost invariably work at non-profits and have big dreams for the world—didn’t hate America. When you care enough to work hard to change something, I wanted to explain, it must mean you love it very much. We can, we must and we will look at Israel without rose-colored glasses but with a pervasive sense of hope.
I’ve talked a lot recently about talking about Israel, and I’ve realized that it’s not easy for me. Honestly, I’m tired of defending my position from either extreme, and I generally prefer to keep my mouth shut. But everywhere I go these days, smart people keep telling me that the only way we can do this is to get everyone talking, peaceably. So please consider yourself invited to leave your thoughts, hopes, dreams, disputations, whatever, here. Keep it respectful and constructive, and we can all grow together from it