Monday, September 06, 2010

My Rosh Hashanah message

Dear Freedmanslifers

This is my first Rosh Hashanah in Israel as an Israeli citizen, so although I have trodden an increasingly secular path, I am acutely aware that Israel is the Jewish nation, and whilst I am struggling with what I believe in spiritually, I want to share with you thirteen articles of faith in my homeland:

I believe that Israel was founded on principles of being a force for good in the world. 
I believe that Israel can be proud of the way it has created a stable, modern, thriving, democratic state.
I believe in Herzl's Altneuland; Zionism is not a dirty word and we are not in a post-Zionist era - Zionism should articulate our continued efforts to bridge the gap between Israel's current realities and that utopia - if we will it, it is no dream.

I believe that Israelis (for all they like a good kvetch) care deeply for each other on a level that goes way beyond shared citizenship; that is why we all think of Gilad constantly, as if he was our own brother.
I believe that Israel is ready for genuine peace if they have genuine partners, willing to make creative solutions that are applied equally at last (ie recognising Jewish refugees from Arab lands, allowing settlers to take PA residency).
I believe that Israeli society can and will absorb the aftershock if these talks fail, and will never resile on its dream of a just peace merely because there is no-one to take its outstretched hand.

I believe that Israelis need to take much more individual responsibility for their actions domestically, for example not littering their beaches and national parks, and ensuring a high quality education for their kids.
I believe that parts of Israeli society need to achieve a better balance of their rights and responsibilities; everyone should serve the country in some capacity at 18, even if it's as park rangers, beach inspectors or classroom assistants.
I believe that Israel will be around a lot longer than Ahmedinejad, so it's worth planning on that basis instead of the usual short-termism that prevails in too much of society.

I believe that Israel is my home.

Please, those of you who are already here, help us to fix the parts that don't work; making aliyah is not the same as being an expat, and it comes with its own set of responsibilities.

Please, Diaspora Jews who are thinking of a holiday or a long stint somewhere, choose Israel and help us; it is not your duty to complete the work, but neither should you desist from participating.

Please, non-Jewish friends, I ask that you just judge us as you would any other country in the same circumstances; if you see mistakes on our part, work with us to resolve them, and if you see that others judge us unfairly, work with us to defend ourselves.

Please, Israeli government, let this be the year that you finally understand that BDS - the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (or Blacklist, Demonise and Slander, or Bias, Discrimination and Selectivism) - and the wider campaign against Israel that involves just about everyone on the left worldwide, has subverted most of Europe's trade unions, media and academia, most Muslims (at least passively), and the tut-tutting pacifist European middle classes who support the perceived underdog, who jump on bandwaggons, convoys and flotillas at the drop of a hat - represent a major strategic threat to our country, in the long run just as important as Iran or Hamas, and require us to make a large and ongoing investment in apparatus to respond to and defeat it, just as the IDF handles military defense.

It is a privilege to celebrate the first anniversary of my arrival in Israel today, just before Rosh Hashanah. It has been on the whole an incredible and fulfilling year - everyone keeps saying it's a honeymoon period but things feel like they are getting better and better, even though (or perhaps because?) there is so much to do personally, professionally and, um, societally...

Shana tovah umetuka - a good and sweet new year to all.

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