Sometimes you get lucky.
I’ve spent the last year writing a new book, The Crisis of Zionism. It tells the story of how a young Barack Obama fell in love with the Jewish social justice tradition, only to discover the deep chasm between that tradition and the American Jewish Establishment when it comes to Israel.
It tells the story of an Israeli Prime Minister who rejects the very tradition that Obama reveres.
Finally, it offers an agenda for what American Jews—especially young American Jews—must do if we don’t want to be the generation that watches the dream of a democratic Jewish state die.
And that’s where I get lucky. Because by a wonderful convergence of events, the book will be released at this year’s J Street National Conference.
I’m looking forward to being with all of you at J Street, since you understand that an American Jewish community that sent its sons and daughters to Mississippi when African Americans were denied equal citizenship merely because they were not white cannot turn away when millions of West Bank Palestinians are denied rights simply because they are not Jews.
You understand that truly loving Israel means loving Israel’s declaration of independence, which promises “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”
You understand that Zionism, as envisaged by Theodor Herzl and Israel’s founders, meant the struggle not only to build a Jewish state, but a democratic Jewish state.
You understand that only by giving Palestinians their own country in the West Bank and Gaza Strip can Israel again become a Jewish state that offers the right of citizenship to all the people within its domain.
And you understand that if Israel collapses as a democratic Jewish state, Zionism itself will die.
The great Jewish question of our age is whether a people who for millennia lived as strangers—and spun visions of justice that inspired the world—will act justly now that we wield power. The standard is not perfection; it is the commitment to equal citizenship in Israel’s own founding document.
The struggle to help Israel make good on that commitment is the struggle of our lives. Upon its outcome rests the honor of the Jewish people in our time.
That’s why I wrote The Crisis of Zionism, and it’s why I’ll be releasing it at the J Street Conference in March. I hope to see you there.