´American Jews boycotting Israeli settlements is terribly wrong´ (ISRAEL HAYOM) Israel Hayom Staff 05/07/12)
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"Sometimes it seems that we, Israelis and American Jews, not only
inhabit different countries but different universes, different
realities," Israel Ambassador to U.S. Michael Oren says • "At stake
is nothing less than the unity of a Jewish people."
The divide separating American and Israeli Jews is growing, Israeli
Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said on Sunday, adding
that the unity of the Jewish people should be a primary concern for
Speaking at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum in Detroit
on Sunday, Oren discussed his three children — Yoav, Lia and Noam —
and described himself as an Israeli father shocked that American Jews
would consider boycotting Israel while his own children were looking
for bomb shelters and managing recruits in the Israel Defense Forces.
"There are American Jewish concerns such as ensuring Jewish
continuity, maintaining Jewish institutions, affording a Jewish
education. All are genuinely serious concerns, and not just for
American Jewish kids," Oren told the audience in Detroit, made up of
leaders from all walks of Jewish life. "I was shocked, then, that on
the very day that I spoke with my kids about their concerns in
Israel, some American Jews were discussing a call to boycott products
made by Israeli settlements in the West Bank."
Oren said that he followed the issue because it was his duty to do so
as an ambassador, but that he reacted to it as an Israeli father with
genuine Israeli concerns.
"Something is wrong here. Terribly wrong," Oren said of the growing
distance between Israeli and American Jews. "No doubt, a majority of
American Jews care deeply about the security of Israel and oppose
those seeking to undermine it. And even some of those calling for
boycotts do so out of a sense of caring — I’d say misplaced sense of
caring — about Israel."
If Jews do not join together as brothers and sisters, Oren added, the
issue will become much bigger than questions of politics or free
"Let me be clear: At stake is not merely Israel’s policies or rights
of American Jews to criticize them. At stake is nothing less than the
unity of the Jewish people," he said. "Israel is our state, a work in
progress in which every Jew can play a part. Of course, sovereignty
is messy, and Jews can and will disagree about Israeli policies
without necessarily loving Israel any less. Still, people often ask
me, ´how do you define pro-Israel?´ I have some elementary answers."
Oren then described for the audience what it meant to be "pro-
Israel." A pro-Israel person, he said, "recalls what Jewish life was
like without a Jewish state and works to ensure that there always
will be a Jewish state." A pro-Israel person is also "grateful every
day that he or she lives in a time in Jewish history when there is a
proud and independent Jewish state."
But there is more to being pro-Israel, Oren added. A pro-Israel
person sees Israel´s flaws and conundrums and thinks critically about
them, but nevertheless, Oren says, "the pro-Israel person also
asks, ´how can I contribute to Israel, how can I enrich it and be
enriched by it?´"
Three other stipulations make a person pro-Israel, Oren said. First,
a pro-Israel person is aware that Israel is a tiny country living
under a massive, deafening threat. Second, a pro-Israel person knows
that making peace with the Palestinians constitutes a very real risk
that the West Bank will devolve into a terror haven, just as Gaza
did. Third, and finally, Oren said "a pro-Israel person takes pride
in Israel’s incalculable successes."
The secret to the Jewish people´s success, Oren stressed repeatedly
during his speech, is the unity of the Jewish people. That means that
the Jewish State of Israel and the broader, farther-flung tribe that
is the Jewish people, must work together, not against each other, to
be each other´s lifelines.
"We are a small people, but we face big problems. We are a small
people, with immense achievements. But we are a people. And because
we are people, we have been able to overcome adversity. Peoplehood is
the secret to our success," he said. "That´s why the great task of
our generation is to preserve our unity."
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