Jewish Journal

On Criticizing Israel in Times of War – Jeremy Ben Ami and Yossi Klein Halevi Talk

by Rabbi John Rosove

November 20, 2012 | 9:18 am

Both Jeremy Ben Ami (President of J Street) and Yossi Klein Halevi (Writer and Journalist at Jerusalem's David Hartman Institute) are personal friends. I respect them both as thinkers, as committed Jews and Zionists, as men who truly love the people of Israel and see the State of Israel as the embodiment of Jewish national dreams.

This dialogue on criticism of Israel by Diaspora Jews during war time which Jeremy and Yossi have undertaken (below) is as good a discussion as we will find on the sensitivities and moral obligations of Jews vis a vis the Jewish state, whether we be Israelis or Diaspora Jews.

I recommend you read the entire piece below, but before doing so it is important to recognize two elements of Jeremy's and Yossi's discussion with each other that have enabled them to talk with such candor and respect:

1. Their conversation together is civil, respectful, honest, and clear;
2. Each is motivated by ahavat Yisrael (love of the people of Israel) and ahavat Medinat Yisrael (love of the State of Israel).

With regards to point #2, unfortunately, many Diaspora Jews do not feel this love for Israel, do not identify with Israel's history, struggle, fate, and destiny nor with the Israeli people, and identify policies of the Israeli government with the meaning of the Jewish state. When they criticize Israel, therefore, they do not do so from a position of love - and to me, that is a critical difference from those who do love the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

One final point - Jeremy is right (and Yossi expresses his appreciation of this point) that we living here outside Israel cannot know what it feels like to live there in time of war, and it is the Israeli people who must live with the consequences of decisions they make. The rest is commentary.

Here is the piece:

Point-Counter-Point, New York Jewish Week

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Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed his duties as Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in November 1988. A native of Los Angeles, he earned a BA in Art History from UC Berkeley...

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