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Monday 14 June 2010

The World Zionist Congress - It's complicated...

Another blog by Rabbi Danny Burkeman taken from

The World Zionist Congress - It's complicated...

This afternoon we had a really interesting discussion about the
different ways in which our national Reform Zionist bodies responded
to the flotilla incident. Different countries had felt the need to
respond in different ways, with different agendas determining that
response. I was very aware that my response to the flotilla (see the
sermon below) was very much a response to the British national
context. It was not about speaking to a Reform Jewish community, it
was about addressing the issue for a Reform Jewish community against
the backdrop of the British media's negative portrayal of Israel.

The difficulty which we face revolves around what we do when we don't
agree 100% with the position, or approach, of the Government of
Israel. Do we voice complete support publicly out of a sense of
responsibility? Or are we comfortable to stand up and criticise?

I think it is important to always remember that our movement is the
heir to the prophetic tradition. When we see injustive we have an
obligation to speak out against it. But in the case of the Israeli
blockade of Gaza and the flotilla, the issue is far too complex to
offer 100% support or to criticise.

For those of us who live in the Diaspora we have to recognise that our
children are not drafted into the army, our families do not live in
daily fear of Hamas rockets, and no world leader is calling for the
destruction of the country in which we live. And therefore we can
attempt to influence Israel, we can offer help and we can try to
support her. But at the end of the day she has to pursue a just and
safe path for her and her citizens - and when she falters, we have to
be there to help pick her up.

I keep thinking about Herzl's words (appropriately as it is 150 years
since his birth) 'Im tirtzu, ein zo agadah' - 'If you will it, it is
no dream'. As Reform/Progressive/Liberal Zionists, we have a dream for
the State of Israel - secure in its borders, at peace with her
neighbours, a Jewish democratic state, and a country which serves as a
shining light for the rest of the world. Our job is to help her
citizens and Government to pursue that dream and vision.


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