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.

Israel, Politics

An end to Cardboard Ideology

My body is back in New York. This afternoon, it will be in Toronto. My mind (and my internal body clock) are still in Israel. Along those lines, some thoughts for 5770, courtesy of my favourite journalist-cum-theologian, Bradley Burston:

Perhaps the time has come to ask, as the Talmud asks, “Who is a true hero?” The sage Ben Zoma responds that the true hero is the person who succeeds in conquering the basest of impulses, the worst of human instincts.

In an age of quietly tyrannical political correctness and instant-messaging, the complex heroism of individual Israelis may have no place. Israelis themselves have by and large learned to hide it, to dismiss it, to denigrate it…

…the secret heroism of Israelis is by no means confined to the military. Large numbers of Israelis work tirelessly, heroically, to help pave the way to a common future with the Palestinians. Many Israelis have opened their hearts to helping refugees from foreign genocides. Their stories go largely unnoticed abroad, in no small part because it takes work to make a people long marketed as villains, into flesh and blood fellow humans.

This is the truth. It is politically incorrect in the extreme. It muddies the colors of cardboard ideology and blanket support for one angelic side over the diabolical.

May 5770 be a year of truth, politically incorrectness, and an end to cardboard ideology.

See you next week, when I fire up Billboard Judaism.

Shana Tovah!