Where to begin and what to share?

Perhaps you have noticed that I have yet to write about Israel in my weekly email. This is not because I am not passionate about Israel (I have visited over 40 times) – it is more about how people “react” to the Israel conversation. We all have our own opinions and thoughts on Israel today, whether it be the peace process, social issues, religious issues, etc. However, the “Jewish debate” about Israel has become so difficult that people often refuse to listen to other perspectives and viewpoints even before the conversation begins. Today, as Israel's adversaries work to isolate it (others may argue Israel is isolating itself), we need to see above our differences and rally around our Jewish homeland.

Just think, in the past few weeks alone:

  • More than 200 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza and eight Israelis were killed in a terror attack in southern Israel

  • Last week, the Palestinian leadership, once again, rejected an appeal from the United States to resume direct peace talks with Israel and abandon their effort to gain recognition at the United Nations (more later)

  • Turkey expelled the Israeli Ambassador, froze diplomatic relations, and has threatened to use warships to escort the next flotilla attempting to break Israel’s legal (according to the United Nations Palmer Commission ) blockade of Gaza

  • Last weekend, violent mobs attacked Israel's Embassy in Cairo and six besieged security guards had to be rescued

The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to move forward with its plans to submit a resolution to unilaterally declare independence at the United Nations General Assembly late next week. This may not only inflict long-term damage on the peace process, but also result in an increase in the instability of the region. The Palestinian move toward a unilateral declaration of statehood may simply be a way to skirt around bilateral negotiations with Israel (which have always been the basis for a final agreement) that will not result in a resolution of the conflict.

In advocating against a unilateral declaration of independence by the PA, it is important to note that this should not be taken to mean that the Jewish community or Israel is opposed to a Palestinian state. Quite to the contrary, Israel and her supporters around the globe have been in favor of, and have been working toward a two state solution for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security.

The United States government has publicly stated it will veto any declaration of statehood in the U.N. Security Council. Our own government, along with all major Jewish organizations, recognizes that the only practical and acceptable way to resolve this long-standing conflict is through direct talks. Let’s push and encourage renewed dialogue by expressing our support for Israel and our support for real peace.

Beyond the political issues facing Israel, and recognizing there are multiple ways to show our support – the best way is to experience IsraelThe Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is pleased to announce we will be leading a community-wide visit to Israel February 12-19, 2012. The itinerary details are being finalized, yet I assure you it will be a wonderful experience for the first-timer, as well as the person who has been multiple times. The land costs for the trip total $2300 (air arrangements extra). If interested, please let me know by replying to this email. You are all welcome to join us. Connect to Israel by being there!

As the Jewish New Year approaches, I hope we all take time to reflect on the year that was and what we can do in the year ahead – especially for Israel.

Shabbat shalom.



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