I wish I did not need to write about the war in Israel. I am sure you are following it as I am. Thus, to keep it brief, I am asking you to do three things (it may take 15 minutes of your time): read one article…make 10 phone calls…and sign a petition.
Task 1 -- Please read this article from Rabbi David Wolpe. Rabbi Wolpe (more on him later) just retired as the Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and has been named The Most Influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek and one of the 50 Most Influential Jews in the World by The Jerusalem Post. The article is worth your time.
I recognize there are differing views of the war. I think Michael Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum provides a helpful framework (I paraphrased his comments):
Israelis are unified in their view that Hamas is an unadulterated evil that cannot be left to reign in Gaza, and the shocking brutality of Hamas behavior in southern Israel has created a clear moral picture about Israel’s actions...Israelis do not understand how or why anyone might see things differently.
Yet as Israel’s campaign in Gaza continues, resulting in more Palestinian casualties and huge numbers of displaced residents of northern Gaza, the rest of the Middle East sees things differently. Arab countries feel Israel is targeting Hamas irrespective of the impact on innocent Palestinians in Gaza.
The narrative in the news (read the articles in The Oregonian?) social media, and on college campuses (watch this disturbing video from Tulane University yesterday) has predictably and quickly switched from an Israel-empathetic to an Israel-demonizing narrative.
We stand with Israel in the battle to defeat Hamas.
Israel needs our support and support from
our elected officials in Washington, DC!
Task 2 -- Make phone calls to our Oregon delegation and the White House! It will take you maybe 10 minutes. Emails are nice, but phone calls make a greater impact. Share three messages and make your voice heard:
- Ask that they maintain their strong support for Israel, recognizing that the war is only just beginning and Israel cannot allow Hamas to remain intact and in power.
- Push for the release of the 224 hostages.
- Condemn the rise of antisemitism on college and university campuses.
Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Ron Wyden
Rep. Cliff Bentz
Rep. Earl Blumenauer
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici
Rep. Lori Chavez DeRemer
Rep. Val Hoyle
Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez
Rep. Andrea Salinas
Task 3 -- Since Hamas's massacre of innocent civilians in Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been monitoring surges of antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, fake news, and propaganda on social media. We are seeing antisemitic incidents spike in the United States and around the world. Please sign this petition to urge social media platforms to follow better content moderation practices to reduce the hate-fueled social media posts.
I appreciate your time and follow through.
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to represent Portland at the first ever "Jewish Priorities Conference" held at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The conference was originally planned to convene prominent Jewish voices to discuss leading issues and challenges facing the American global Jewish community today. It was centered around David Hazony's new book, Jewish Priorities: Sixty-Five Proposals for the Future of Our People. Due to world events, the agenda and conversation pivoted its full attention to Israel and antisemitism.
Here are some highlights:
Natalie Sanandaji, a 28-year-old survivor of the attack at the Nova music festival, shared her experiences. She is from Great Neck, New York and was visiting Israel. She talked about the harrowing experience and how she and her friends ran for miles before being saved by a man who repeatedly went back to assist more of the concertgoers. Natalie never learned his name.
Since returning to New York, Natalie said she does not feel much safer. “It’s hard to grasp. I ran from rockets and terrorists shooting at me and then I come back home and still feel attacked, with anti-Israel hate and antisemitism.”
One observation at the conference is that there were very few people under the age of 50 in the room, much less under age 30. Their voices on Israel and the Jewish future were definitely missing.
A panel discussion on Israel did have a 23-year-old who was very progressive, with anti-religious and anti-Netanyahu government views. Also on the panel was an older gentleman, observant, who lives in Efrat in the West Bank and claimed, “westerners do not understand the ‘might makes right’ mindset in the Middle East.” What you saw during the panel were two people talking across one another and not listening. They had two completely different world views and never tried to understand the other. As one person joked, “Jews don’t listen – they wait.”
I mention this because I think this is one of the key issues in Jewish life -- our inability to actively listen to one another. Rabbi David Wolpe was on an earlier panel, and he spoke about how “adults in the room try to dictate to younger people what they should believe.” He argued, they need to be welcomed into the conversation and listened to. It does not mean views must change (although what we think/believe in our 20s may not be the same as we get older) – it only means we are inviting greater understanding from others.
Finally, Bret Stephens of The New York Times said we entered a new phase in Jewish life – he called it “October 8th Jews.” It was the day after the massacre when Jews woke up and perhaps for the first time felt support for Israel and Jews from most of the world. “Sadly, that era ended almost as quickly as it started as Israel and Jews worldwide now better understand who our real friends are and who are not.”
That chilling comment put an exclamation point on the conference.
Here are three excellent upcoming events I hope you will attend:
Herb Keinon, longtime Senior Contributing Editor for The Jerusalem Post, will be in Portland on Monday, November 6 at Congregation Neveh Shalom. He will be speaking on, “Israel at War. Where Does the Jewish State Go from Here?” Register here.
Juju Chang, Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of “ABC News Nightline,” will be the speaker for this year’s Women’s Philanthropy IMPACT Event on Thursday, November 16 at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. It will be an evening of gathering, solidarity, and of great interest. Register now.
Fran Drescher, star of The Nanny and President of SAG/AFTRA, will be our speaker at our Spotlight Event on Saturday, December 2 at The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts. Our community can come together to lift each other up and support our Jewish community. Pick your seats here.
Shabbat shalom and let’s not forget those killed at the Tree of Life shooting five years ago today.