Israel, Judaism - Pluralism, Judaism - Prayer

There is a Wall in Your Way

Jerusalem-15412

At the Wall, all anyone can do is look at the Wall.
From all her angles.
At the Wall all you can do is close your eyes because there’s nothing to see there.
There is a Wall in your way…

– From “Along the Wall” by Rabbi Joshua Bolton

I had the joy of joining with Women of the Wall this evening to help kick off the group’s 25th anniversary. A few of us from school were asked to songlead during the opening ceremony, and I welcomed the opportunity. Tomorrow, I will join their Rosh Chodesh service at the Kotel (from the men’s side of the mechitzah), in support of my peers, colleagues, and friends.

My visit to the Kotel tomorrow will only be my second since arriving in Israel over four months ago (the other being on Tisha b’Av). I have a tenuous relationship with the Kotel, and as of late, I do not find it spiritually conducive to my Jewish practice. As an aside – is it absurd to speak in terms of having a “relationship” with a pile of old stones?

In commemoration of the Women of the Wall’s celebrations, a group of girls from NFTY came to Israel to represent the Movement. Speaking about the history and significance of the Kotel, one particularly wise teen said to me – “but it’s just a retaining wall!” That’s a pretty concise yet accurate statement of where I’m at these days. This statement is indeed true, but there is much more to this truth. Certainly, I recognize the immense historical significance and symbolic relevance of the Kotel, and this is something that I do connect strongly with. But as a symbol of Orthodox hegemony and oppression of the rights of women and Jews, I find it to be an incredibly challenging and emotionally draining place. Which is why I don’t go much these days, even though I live and study steps from its ancient stones.

While discussing the challenges at the Kotel, a friend of mine remarked that she really values the unique roles Judaism ascribes to each gender, and finds deep meaning in what she is empowered to do as a Jewish woman. And that it is precisely for that reason that she, too, finds the Kotel to be a challenging place, since the imbroglio takes away from her ability to pray there as a woman, in a Jewish environment surrounded by women who aren’t trying to silence her.

For me, alongside my deep commitment to a fully egalitarian Judaism, I also identify strongly with the various ways that Judaism welcomes men and women to access their Judaism in different ways, at times using different language. I have no problem referring to the shekhinah any more than I do speaking of Avinu Malkeinu. To be sure – not withstanding the historical bias towards a male-oriented language that Jewish history has had – I relish the different metaphors and allegories we use to talk about God and our relationship with Her/Him.

It is for that reason that the Kotel’s hijacking by the Orthodox disturbs me the most – precisely because it is being done by my fellow Jewish men, in the name of a Judaism to which I – and the majority of both Israelis and Jews around the world – don’t ascribe. When I go to the Kotel and bask in the vastness of the men’s section, I can walk freely up to the ancient and holy stones without having to push my way through a crowd, as the women do. I don’t have raw eggs thrown at me for wearing tallit and tefillin, and I can pray the words of the Shema without fear of being arrested. For me to do these things, while other Jews cannot, requires immense cognitive dissonance; that these offenses are committed by fellow Jewish men towards women because they are not men causes me great distress.

Yet tomorrow, I will join thousands of other people in recognition of the ongoing struggle to make Israel a better place. Surely, I can’t just sit on the sidelines whenever the fight gets dirty. Often, it’s important to get a little closer to the things that make us uncomfortable, to get a better perspective, and to push ourselves to right the wrongs we see in the world. As we sang tonight, overlooking the gates of the Old City: “Open for me the gates of righteousness, I will enter and give thanks to Adonai.”

Israel, Living in Jerusalem

Are We Irrational Jewish Hypocrites?

Crossposted from The Times of Israel Blog.

In just a few days, an interesting phenomenon will take place. Groups of Jews around the world will mark the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem with ceremonies of mourning. At the same time, many (most?) of these Jews have absolutely no desire to see the Temples rebuilt. Is this an act theological hypocrisy?

Tisha b’Av has always flummoxed me. I understand the practice of considering the day a memorial for the many additional tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people. To be sure, there’s probably a psychological benefit to the ethos of the Jewish people for an annual opportunity to vent and take thousands of years of weight off of our communal chest.

But memorializing and remembering thousands of years of tragedies is different from engaging in an act of mourning over the loss of an institution which many (most?) do not have any real desire to return to.

Mourning is different from remembering. Mourning implies a manifest sorrow for the loss of something and the desire to have it back. Especially within Judaism, it has specific connotations separate from memory. So while we can remember and appreciate the centrality of the Temple in its time, I would imagine that most non-Orthodox Jews don’t truly mourn on Tisha b’Av. Is it possible to reconcile an outward religious act with a conflicting inward belief?

To be sure, many Jews do mourn the destruction of the Temples and do wish to see the Temple restored. While I disagree with this vision on religious, political, and social grounds, I’m not debating it here. I appreciate this religious belief for what it is, and am in fact somewhat envious of those who hold it. For them, I imagine Tisha b’Av presents no hypocrisy whatsoever, and is a day filled with kavannah (intention) and great liturgical focus.

For most other Jews, we are left with Tisha b’Av as a day of solemn remembrance. But communal historical memory is part and parcel of almost all Jewish holy days. Napoleon and Chaim Weizmann shared a common philosophy when they both observed that Jews have a long memory. It’s no surprise to say that we need to recall our past tragedies.

So what’s going on with Tisha b’Av? What’s taking place in the kishkes of Jews around the world who mark the day?

Rabbi Lewis M. Barth, professor emeritus of midrash at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has posited a modern, progressive approach to the day:

Tishah B’Av could be a day that we spend in self-reflection and self-examination regarding (1) the legal, economic, social, moral, and religious issues of our own time, (2) the ways our congregations and communities might measure ourselves and society against our commitments to social justice, and (3) the obligations we have to take responsibility for helping to make this a better world.

Ok, that’s a good start. Great, actually – a perfect model of modern Jewish practice. But it’s no innovation to suggest that as Jews, we need to think about how to better our society. Do we need Tisha b’Av to highlite the importance of tikkun olam?

Even Maimonides has tapped into the quandary of what to do with this day:

There are days when all Israel fasts because of the troubles that happened to them, in order to awaken the hearts and open the pathways of repentance… so that in the memory of these matters we will return to doing the good.

– Mishneh Torah, (Ta’anit 5:1)

The Rambam had a pretty prescient view of modern Jewish life. He cautions us to be unsatisfied with stagnant practices and beliefs solely for the sake of maintaining the status quo. (It should be noted that Maimonides also envisioned the rebuilding of the Temple and the resumption of sacrifices as soon as possible.)

Does that solve the problem of potential hypocrisy in mourning? Is it rational to mourn on Tisha b’Av when we have no desire to see the Beit Hamkidash restored?

Absolutely not. Why mourn something you don’t want back? The reason we mourn things is because we lament their loss, and I would argue that in that light, it’s fairly irrational to mourn the destruction of the Temple. But I also think that’s ok.

When everything is rational; when everything makes sense; when everything is smooth and polished in perfection, we stop thinking. It becomes easier to glide through life without thinking about our actions. When everything is simple and easy and clean, we are robbed of opportunities for kavannah.

Sociologists teach that it is moments of tension that result in opportunities for personal and communal growth. So perhaps Tisha b’Av is the perfect time to engage in a little irrational Judaism. Tisha b’Av can be a time when we embrace the irrationality that exists within a tradition and stretch ourselves a little. Instead of “mourning” and fasting appearing as hypocritical actions, they instead become useful tools for personal and communal growth as Jews.

When we “mourn” the destruction of the Temples, what is hidden behind the irrationality of that mourning is the opportunity to rouse our dormant souls, and awaken ourselves from our otherwise easy day-to-day lives. In that way, we are better able to follow Maimonides’ clarion call and “return to doing good.”

So Tisha b’Av may be a little irrational, but it’s certainly not hypocritical. And while it inextricably rooted in the past, for me (and I think Maimonides, too), it presents a vision directed more towards the present and the future.

That future may or may not include a rebuilt Temple… but I’m not the one who gets to decide that.

Israel

New Birthright Staff Training Program Focuses on Centrality of North American Staff

Check out my new piece for eJewish Philanthropy! Originally posted here.

In the past year, the North American Jewish community became more aware of the critical role North American madrichim play in the Taglit-Birthright Israel experience.

Many in the Birthright community have observed the challenges associated with the North American staffing model, where there has been a less than tongue-in-cheek acceptance that the real substance of the trip “magically” happens at the hands of the Israeli tour guide, while the madrichim are viewed as little more than glorified babysitters. Thankfully, we’ve also heard responses from some (here and here) who are working to address these crucial challenges.

While Birthright participants do experience Israel with elements of surrealism and awe; and while we often speak of the “magic” of the Israel experience; Birthright is no magic trick. It involves great dedication, knowledge, skills, passion, and real work in both the months leading up to the trip, and in the months and years following the trip. Far from an elaborate illusion, Birthright is deeply rooted in reality.

So perhaps it is particularly poetic that a significant change within the Union for Reform Judaism’s birthright program – Kesher – took place just days before the start of Hanukkah, a holiday often associated with the magical story of oil lasting for eight days. We know that the reality of Hanukkah’s story is actually of a monumental change in the Jewish community that involved the real blood, sweat and tears of many Jews. To be sure, the name of the holiday itself teaches us of the inherent importance of dedication and rededication in shaping a lasting Jewish community.

With more than 40 Kesher Birthright trips per year, including over 1,700 participants and Israelis and upwards of 80 madrichim, it had become increasingly apparent that it was time to rededicate ourselves to the importance of our Birthright madrichim.

Empowering Madrichim as Experiential Educators

In early December, Kesher staff flew from all corners of North America to New York City for an intensive two-day in person staff training program. This rejuvenated, rededicated program was fully funded at no expense to the madrichim, who significantly volunteer their own time and energy with no financial remuneration. The training program was designed to bring the staff community together to learn from professionals in Jewish Experiential Education, share their own best practices, and meet and work with their co-staff in the months leading up to the trip (instead of at the airport just four hours prior to their trip).

Our goals were to empower the madrichim as Jewish experiential educators in their own right, to create an understanding of and dedication to our educational vision and mission, and to foster a strong staff community that would continually be a mutually supportive cohort. Through both a practical and theoretical paradigm, we examined the vision and mission of the URJ Birthright program, studied concepts of Jewish identity formation, explored the educational themes and goals of the sites we visit in Israel, and dedicated ourselves to the importance of fostering community before the trip itself begins. We also explored the importance of the 11th day of the program- what happens to participants upon their return to North America. Significantly, the madrichim also moved beyond the “babysitter” approach to staffing, and learned how to look after the participants through a model of “Caring for the Whole Person.”

Valuing Madrichim as Partners in Our Mission

This was an ambitiously designed program, and one that reveals its value over time. We immediately heard from our staff – both seasoned alumni as well as first-timers – that training together in an experiential environment has been rewarding and will contribute greatly to the excellence of the URJ’s Birthright program.

Joining the madrichim for a session was Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the URJ. He spoke passionately about his own first encounter with Israel, and about the centrality of the role that dedicated madrichim play as mentors in the Jewish journeys that Birthright participants undergo.

In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to learning more from our madrichim and participants about how this rededicated focus on our staff contributes to the excellence of the Israel experience for all those involved with the KESHER Taglit-Birthright Israel program.

Jesse Paikin is the Israel Programs Coordinator for the Union for Reform Judaism Camp & Israel Programs

Israel, Politics

My friend, my friend she lights the fuse

Israel, my troubled friend, it seems you never miss the opportunity to tug at my heart in opposite directions. This week, you simultaneously shoot yourself in one foot, while strapping on an attractive new Naot sandal on the other.

So you’re going to construct 1,000 new homes in East Jerusalem? I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. It’s certainly in keeping with the way you’ve been acting lately.

Though even when you punch me in the gut like that, with your other hand you lift me up and caress my tear-streamed cheek. Yesterday it was announced that a group of prominent Israelis, including former chiefs of the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet, are presenting a new straightforward peace plan, based in part on the Arab Peace Initiative. It seems this group of Israelis also intends to rile up support among the Israeli populous and push the government to act upon the plan.

At the end of the day, as complex and confounding as the Israeli/Palestinian situation may be, it can also be remarkably simple, at least for those who want Israel to exist as a respected Jewish Democracy. Watch the creatively produced video above for some insight along those lines.

The new Israeli peace plan could fail. It probably will. But hope is always better than despair. Sentiments too corny? Fair enough. For the emotionally detached, just watch the video above and root your opinion in the fast-approaching demographic reality.

Canada, Israel, Politics

A valuable and desirable passport

In the winter of 2004 while travelling in Israel, I was robbed in a taxi in Jerusalem. I tell people that it happened at gunpoint, though I can’t be certain because I never got a good look at what the driver was pulling out of the glove compartment before I bailed on the car. But I tell people this because it makes for a more dramatic story. It also has the added effect of making me appear bad-ass, a character trait that I assume isn’t normally assigned to me.

In any event, as I explained in broken Hebrew to the police that night, then again to the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv, and repeatedly to friends and family in the days following, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was robbed. I looked like a worn out traveler at the time, certainly with nothing of great monetary value on me.

Except my passport.

If it was clear to the driver that I wasn’t from Israel – and the fact that I asked him to take me to the airport may have had something to do with it – then he likely assumed that I had a foreign passport on me. And that is desirable and valuable.

I share this story now not because I particularly enjoy reminiscing about how I spent four days at the mercy of the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv. I don’t. And while we’re at it, the word “Embassy” is a stretch to begin with, since Canada’s pied-a-terre in the Holy Land consists of a few floors of fluorescent-lit office space in a Tel Aviv high-rise.

I share this story as a reminder of the value of a passport – a document with great literal and figurative power and privilege contained in its pages.

So it was with great delight when I read today of the Liberal Party’s proposed higher education initiative, dubbed the “Learning Passport.” In short, the proposed program would automatically give every Canadian high school graduate $1,000 per year to use towards their university or college education. And it would give $1,500 per year to students from low-income families.

That this is the first policy set forth from the new Liberal platform is impressive. That it’s not a partisan vote-buying gimmick is more-so. That in setting it forth, the Liberals have also budgeted the funds for the program is most impressive.

Where would the money come from to fund the Learning Passport? It would be fully funded by rolling back corporate tax cuts that were extended by the Conservatives. Say what you will about fiscal responsibility, but even Harper admits out of one side of his mouth that we’re weathering the global economic crisis well. As the Globe and Mail notes in their editorial:

“Higher education is the single best guarantee of higher earnings and future success; now is a good time, as other countries struggle with crippling debt loads, to make further investments in people…”

What continues to strike me most – beyond the honourable subastance of the program – is the title the Liberals gave the program. It drives strong and meaningful points home: higher education gets you somewhere. Like a passport, it lets you cross otherwise impenetrable barriers. And like carrying the woven bilingual pages in your pocket, a uniquely Canadian pride and privilege comes with attending a Canadian university or college.

For those keeping track, this already addresses one of the items on my personal party platform. So, well done, Grits!

Billboard Judaism, Israel, Judaism - General, Judaism - Pluralism, Judaism - Reform

The Schizophrenic Jewish Hierarchy

I just read that at the JFNA General Assembly, Kadima MP Tzipi Livni addressed the crowd with a message of Jewish unity, calling for “dialog between the Jews of the Diaspora and of Israel to ensure that we would forever remain one people. That is how I see you when I stand here today… not as Reform Jews or Orthodox or Conservative.

Setting aside the cookie-cutter content of her speech, am I the only one that thinks when someone mentions the three major Movements of North American Judaism in the same breath, there’s an inherent resistance that takes place, our of fear of establishing a hierarchy?

I can imagine Livni’s speech-writers spending hours formulating that one sentence:

– Who do we put first? Reform? If we say Reform first, then we have to say Orthodox second, otherwise it will look like we’re going bottom up along the religious scale.

– There’s a religious scale?

– Of course there is, everyone knows there’s an identity problem in North American Judaism.

– Nu? Maybe we shouldn’t put Reform first, it makes it look like we’re starting at the bottom.

– Ok, so let’s start with Orthodox.

– No, then it looks like we’re starting at the top and working our way down.

– What is wrong with North American Jews?! Why can’t they just be like us Israelis and have one, state-sponsored religious stream. Things would be so much easier that way…

– Yes. Yes, they would.

– Ok, so what about Conservative Judaism… why don’t we start with them?

– If we put Conservative first, then it will be too obvious that we’re trying to avoid establishing a hierarchy.

– Ok, so let’s start with Orthodox, but then go straight to Reform so it looks like we understand religious pluralism.

– Then we’re leaving Conservative for last; people will think we’re making a comment about the dying state of their movement.

And on, and on, and on, and on…

Israel, Peace, Politics

As the old saying goes…

Dotan Harpak (past shaliach to the URJ Youth Division) has written an excellent analysis of the current situation in Israel over at RJ Blog. And when I say current situation in Israel, I mean the situation this week, because heaven knows it’s going to change tomorrow. It’s largely spurred by Bibi’s visit to New Orleans for the Jewish FederationsGeneral Assembly.

While you’re there, check out my response in the comments.

I happen to be in Israel right now confronting many of the issues Dotan speaks about, so it was serendipitous that Dotan would write about the things I’m seeing.

BTW – If you haven’t read yet, shit went down at the GA. Some appalling behaviour that is quite typical of the character of much of institutional Judaism these days vis a vis Israel. Please read and learn and keep an open mind.

Israel

Too hot for a profound philosophical discussion about the human psyche

Etgar Keret (all around genius) writes (in Hebrew, but accurately and poetically translated into English) about how to entertain his four-year old son during the dog days of the sweltering Tel-Aviv summer.

Among the options is this brilliant idea that should be either be patented and sold to make millions, or given out to the entire human race for free in the interest of saving us from cultural starvation:

“Watching a stupid 3-D movie. (Idea for a startup: inventing glasses that give the plot some depth when you put them on.)”

Genius.

Israel

Seeing Israel Transparently and Holistically in Ten Days: It’s Possible. Sort of.

A few weeks ago, Ha’aretz published an article criticizing the scope and educational content of Birthright Israel trips, arguing that participants don’t get to interact with the real Israel, instead seeing a “romanticized” and idealized “Jewtopia” that is carefully constructed by the trip organizers to gloss over the truth of life in Israel.

In the article, author Leah Molayem writes that,

“While Taglit offers an undeniably unique opportunity that encourages Jews who have never been to Israel to learn more about their historical roots, it is important to recognize the one-sided conditions under which participants are introduced to Israel, and ultimately depart with an understanding and appreciation that deviates from reality.”

While I can’t speak for all Birthright organizers – and I was disappointed to read that Molayem had an unengaging experience on her own trip – I was immediately taken aback by her thesis. I’ve been fortunate enough to lead a number of Birthright trips through the Reform movement, and happened to have just returned from leading one the day the article was published. My own first trip to Israel was also with Birthright. Her description is the polar opposite of what I’ve experienced on all trips.

It is true that each trip organizer has its own focus and paradigm, and the Reform movement’s trips by nature are certainly more inclined to cover a wider swath of Israeli society, providing a holistic and mostly transparent view of daily life there. I’ll also grant that a ten-day trip can only cover so much; by nature, Birthright is intended to be an introductory experience.

But do all Taglit trips present a “one-sided” view of Israel where participants “ultimately depart with an understanding and appreciation that deviates from reality”? Let the experiences recorded here testify to the falsehoods of these accusations.

Molayem writes that she “found that the Arab-Israeli conflict, socioeconomic divisions and the ethnic and religious rifts within Israel are carefully avoided in discussions by the trip organizers, who work tirelessly around the clock in an attempt to create that Jewtopia.”

It is unfortunate that Molayem didn’t have the chance to engage with these important issues. A URJ-Kesher Birthright trip engages with each of these issues, and more. Participants visit an Arab-Israeli village for a dialogue at a Mosque and in the home of a villager, tour the separation barrier, volunteer in a poor neighbourhood of Ethiopian immigrants, explore the difficulties of life for the northern Druze population, and interact with members of Israel’s progressive Jewish community, discussing religious pluralism.

I don’t want to turn this post into a brochure for one organization’s trips, but do want to highlight that the very lacunae that Molayem identifies are a central and significant part of the Reform Movement’s pedagogy on its trips. This is important and should not be ignored. There are organizations that provide an enriching, engaging, and holistic view of Israel.

Of course, given the laws of physics, there really is only so much that you can see, do, and talk about in ten days. And of course, a good chunk of time on the trip takes advantage of the fun and entertaining activities Israel offers as a tourist destination. But Molayem is dead wrong in her characterization of Birthright participants as “tourists.” On a URJ-Kesher trip, it’s emphasized that participants are pilgrims, engaging with a land they already have a deep-seeded connection to. The purpose of the trip is to let those seeds begin to grow into a stronger tree. Does that tree fully grow on the trip? Of course not, it’s only ten days! But it certainly pushes up through the ground and begins to flourish.

Molayem – to her credit – concludes the article with a number of suggestions of issues to engage with to improve the Birthright experience: daily life in Jaffa, the Haredi sector, and gender-equality at the Kotel. What she failed to realize is that there are trips that are already doing this, and doing it well!

Don’t want to take my propaganda at face value? I highly suggest reading the eloquent blog posts written by a participant of mine, Angela, summarizing her own experience. You’ll see it’s the antithesis of the trip Molayem describes.

You can read her reviews here and here.

You may also want to read Brandeis University’s research and report on the long-term impact of Birthright.

Israel, Life, Peace, Politics

We both have truths, are yours the same as mine?

Yesterday, I responded to B’nai Brith Canada’s claim that they were in possession of “The truth” vis a vis the Israel/Palestine/Jewish/Muslim/Arab/Middle-East peace process, and that an anonymous “They” was trying to subvert access to this “truth.”

So let’s talk about “The Truth.”

In 2005, I was invited to speak at the URJ Biennial in Houston as a member of a panel on Israel Engagement. I was representing the university age group, and I was supposed to talk about Israel advocacy, Reform Zionism, and combating anti-Israel sentiments on campus.

Coming out of the Israel/Palestine/Jewish/Muslim/Arab/Middle-East climate at York University heavily affected my perspective. The topic was a particularly divisive one at York, and I had grown tired of the vitriol from both “sides” of the debate.

So the thesis of my panel presentation went something like this:

“If you’re going to talk about Israel on campus, you need to root yourself solidly and almost exclusively in factual truths. You need to avoid the emotionalization of the debate, and stay away from the impassioned yelling fits.”

Because that’s what the debate had become – a perpetual round of who-can-scream-louder-than-the-other-“side”.

Having just returned from Israel where I had some unique opportunities to engage with the Israeli Arab community, I find more than ever that the truth might actually be at the root of the problem – both in the Middle East and abroad.

Keeping your debate to truths is all fine and good, and may indeed circumvent some of the yelling and screaming and red faces and holier-than-thou shouting, but there’s just one problem…

Both “sides” have equally valid truths.

I’ll pause for a moment and explain the copious use of quotation marks around “sides”.

There really aren’t two sides to this issue, each with their own opposing history… it’s one large story, with intertwined narratives, facts, and truths. This is not Jew vs. Muslim, Arab vs. Non-Arab, Israeli vs. Palestinian, or any other false dichotomy. The longer we continue to view this as a polarized issue, the longer it will remain that way – polarized and unsolved. Certainly, at this point in world history, it’s clear that if you want to talk about Israel/Palestine/Jewish/Muslim/Arab/Middle-East, you should understand that it’s one vastly complex narrative, not two separate storybooks.

Back to the Truth… in this one, complex story, there are a number of equally valid truths. For example:

– It’s true that years of terrorism have led to Israel needing to take strong security measures.
– It’s true that the State of Israel has a long and valid connection to the Land of Israel.
– It’s true that many Palestinians were displaced because of the forming of the State of Israel.
– It’s true that life for non-Jewish Israelis is often much harder than life for Jewish Israelis.
– It’s true that Israel needs to defend itself against internal and external threats.
– It’s true that Israel bears responsibility for the actions it takes in the West Bank.
And so on…

It’s very convenient and easy for much of the pro-Israel community to just focus on the truths from the Israeli “side” of the narrative, because it makes it look like Israel is justified in all of its actions. Unfortunately, that leaves out half of the story.

The pro-Israel community as a whole needs to work on being less myopic, and start looking at the bigger picture, not just Israel’s “side” of it. This is why I’m so fond of J Street. Not because they’re “liberal,” “progressive,” or “pro-peace,” but because they engage in a holistic viewing of the situation Israel faces.

Compare their perspective with B’nai Brith Canada’s. When B’nai Brith claims to be in possession of the “Truth,” what they’re essentially doing is delegitimizing anyone whom they deem as being opposed to their view of the “Truth.” So the reality of daily life for non-Jewish Israelis is irrelevant, the reality of daily life for Palestinians is irrelevant, the future demographic realities Israel will face are irrelevant, and the realities that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are willing to confront are irrelevant because they are not “the Truth.”

The “truth” is all fine and good, but only if you’re open to other people’s truths as well.