The question often asked is how does one discuss social justice issues relating to Israel in a way that is productive? In a way that unites rather than divides? I think you’d have to be completely blind and stupid to think that Israel is a perfect country, with perfect policies, crafted by perfect politicians and enforced by perfect governmental and security agencies. So too, you’d have to be Richard Silverstein or a total hater (or both) to think that every single thing Israel does is automatically bad. The problem is that given the heat of the rhetoric generated by the political/military situation, the debate tends to be dominated by the extremes, and non-existential issues tend to get shunted to the side. None of this is ultimately good both for people concerned with the welfare and long term viability of Israel as well as those concerned with minority rights in Israel and the Palestinian situation.
Clear thinking individuals recognize that Israel is neither the best or the worst country in the world. Of course Israel has accomplished much in its 63 years of existence but I am a Zionist specifically because I still feel we have a way to go – we have not yet finished building and securing our nation.
As such, we’ve criticized the rabbinate’s role in perpetuating the Agunah crisis, we’ve criticized Israel’s handling of domestic sex trafficking (which has improved drastically since) and I am not a fan of Israeli security forces using tear gas canisters as weapons – ie aiming tear gas projectiles at unarmed protesters like in this video at 1:46 :
This video, produced by BTselem, shows a demonstration at Nabi Saleh which took place on May 13. A reasonable response would be to call for an investigation and discipline the two border guards involved. Using tear gas the way they did goes against IDF rules of engagement. An unreasonable response would be “When I look at these vicious SOB soldiers I can only think of the Nazis beating Jews. What is next Israel? Gas chambers?” or “Theï»¿ terrorist state of israel’s roots are the zionist money changers on the steps of the temple” or (from MondoWeiss’s comments) “Everyone of these IDF thugs should be hanged or in prison. Scum.” or “These Israeli soldiers are flat out mother fuckers. Brutal inhumane racist mother fuckers.” or “out controller-parasite israel still strikes fear into too many here (politicians because of the $ and the media) so the threshold nears but has not yet been crossed for changing the paradigm â€¦ but the threshold will be crossed, in less than a year or two I expect, and then everyone will want to pry this hideous parasite from our nation’s levers of power â€¦ the conduct of the zionists cannot be covered up and explained away any longer as they become a monolith of brutality, racism, and ugly inhumanity â€¦ coddling a younger generation in the bosom of hate and race-baiting and collective sociopathy” – anyhow, you get my point. None of that kind of dialog will resolve anything.
Now, if you’re in New York on June 29th and want to try and see if you can find reasonable and productive methods of being critical of Israel, you might want to go and check out “Love, Hate and the Jewish State 4.0: Airing the dirty laundry?” taking place at the Manhattan JCC located at 334 Amsterdam Ave and 76th Street. You can register here for what is described as “the fourth in a series of highly interactive, non-persuasive, open discussions with a diverse group of people in their 20s and 30s. Followed by a reception.” There will be nosh! And the folks that emailed me this event are pretty reasonable folks so this should be interesting. If you go, let me know how it went.