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 “The 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 … 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 … 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 … 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.

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About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

9 Comments

  • So Israel/the IDF do all sorts of unreasonable terrible things, and then for balance you find some random internet folks who are calling them Nazis. Who cares what some loony web commenters have to say?

    • Because the loons tend to dominate the discussion either because of their volume or because of the extremism of their positions. Productive discourse means that we ignore such comments, like that presented by wankereroftruth below.

      • But you’re not ignoring them. In fact, you made a whole post with the false equivalency that the habit of the IDF to use violent tactics against non-violent protesters and shoot tear gas canisters at peoples’ faces should be compared to crazy internet people.

        • Andy, it’s not a habit. Hundreds of people protest every week. A handful have been seriously injured. Not justifying it, it’s wrong and even a handful is a handful too many, but lets not make it seem like people get killed or maimed every day at the hands of the IDF. That’s just not true. And I didn’t make any equivalency. I just gave examples of discourse we ought to be avoiding because it is totally unproductive. When are you coming back to Jerusalem? We should get a beer!

  • I certainly love to HATE Israel and their disgusting ways of ruling. Without the United States your country would be wiped of the map in a matter of seconds. Thanks for sending Americans to middle east shit holes so that they can die for your evil ways of ruling. Karma has been building up for you assholes for thousands of years and when it bites you it will KILL you! Good night left side! WHITE PRIDE BITCHES!

  • “reasonable and productive methods of being critical of Israel”

    Because that’s what we’re missing, right?

    Because that wouldn’t enable Israel’s enemies…uh, right?

    The promoters, New Israel Fund have funded groups that promote divestment, and dissolving Israel as a Jewish State. They have also sent representation to speak at J-Street events, legitimizing that group, and some have linked them with responsibility for the Goldstone report thanks to funding of the one sided B’Tselem.

    • The NIF has evolved and no longer funds any organization that delegitimizes the right of the State of Israel to exist. The NIF also funds stuff as diverse as modern Orthodox groups and lobbying the government for free dental care for children. When I criticize soldiers who fire tear gas canisters directly at protesters, I am not enabling Israel’s enemies. I am asking for our soldiers to live up to the standards and the laws of the IDF. We are in fact missing “reasonable and productive methods of being critical of Israel.” Israel isn’t perfect and I am not going to let imperfections slide because of some rabid, foaming at the mouth nutbars who hate everything about Israel – that’s what I meant by not letting the extremists dominate the discourse. As for the Goldstone report, that thing is dead. Goldstone repudiated it and Israel ought to have presented contrary evidence. Hope that lesson was learned.

      • NIF just co-hosted the JStreet Conference.
        http://nif-jstreet2011.tumblr.com/

        NIF CURRENTLY funds pro-Divestment groups,including: the Coalition of Women for Peace who run the divestment website whoprofits.org (last funded May 16) Mossawa, and Women Against Violence.

        NIF CURRENTLY funds Adalah who in addition to supporting the Flotillas, and other terror activities – want to limit Jewish immigration, while forcing right of return and replace a Jewish state with a one state solution.

        NIF CURRENTLY funds Mossawa, an organization that wants to abolish the Israeli flag, and anthem.
        http://www.nif.org/issue-areas/grantees

        NIF CURRENTLY funds Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI, who promote the Apartheid lie.

        My suggestion is you retract your post, or add a disclaimer that the funding organization also funds extreme left groups that advocate destruction of a Jewish State.

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