OPINION: Time for the Jewish Diaspora to engage

OPINION: Time for the Jewish Diaspora to engage

30 Rabbi Leah Jordan

By Rabbi Leah Jordan

When I woke to the news that the most right-wing religious coalition in Israeli history was likely to be the next government under Benjamin Netanyahu’s watch – rather than a more moderate or centrist or centre-left coalition as hoped – I was disappointed. To say the least.

When I then focused on Bibi’s rejection of the two-state solution and the fear-mongering he cynically resorted to in the last hours of the election, I felt despair.

No one can be faulted for feeling now is not Israel’s finest hour, nor its most moral or politically forward-thinking… I love Israel. I recently lived in Jerusalem for a year, and return there for two months every summer.

However, I fully understand that in the current climate, the desire to disengage or to isolate ourselves in the Diaspora is strong and understandable.

Many people are staying away altogether. And yet, more than ever now, that is the wrong response. Precisely because Israel is important, because Israel is special, because we don’t agree with the direction in which the government is headed, it is the time for the Jewish Diaspora to engage.

Israel is a vibrant and central part of Jewish life today. If the political situation is dire enough to depress us, then we care. And we must double down on that care – by staying informed, debating, visiting, living there and politicising.

For 10 days this August I am co-coordinating a Progressive Jewish Birthright trip to Israel, where we will engage with the varied communities of Israel – Jewish and Arab, Israel proper and occupation – and deepen the understanding of another generation of British Jews. That is the right response.

•Rabbi Jordan is Liberal Judaism’s student and young adult chaplain. Email her at leah@liberalju daism.org for more details on the Birthright trip.


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