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Friday, May 06, 2011

Why American Jews should not be embarrassed by Israel (Hazony)

From The Forward, by David Hazony:
Whenever I visit the United States, I spend a lot of time with people who strongly support Israel. But I’m always stunned by how poorly they understand the country. They talk about terrorism, Bibi and Tzipi, or the latest ex-general they met at a fundraising dinner. But when it comes to culture and daily life, they draw a blank. For all their cosmopolitanism, they know little or no Hebrew — cutting themselves off from the most vibrant Jewish experiences happening today.

Israel is not a football team that you can follow when you have time, ignore when you don’t and always root for. It’s a whole country, a whole world. It has its own literature, music, sports, films, reality shows and TV dramas and documentaries, many of which would make American Jews fill with pride, angst, laughter or criticism if they only knew about them. And yes, Israel has war and politics and existential threats. But to focus exclusively on these is never to understand what it’s like to be Israeli.

Israel has been through hell, and this experience informs its wisdom. Like any other country, it has its successes and failures. But its imperfections should not be a “source of embarrassment” for American Jews, who, after all, have their own grievous failings, as well.
Read the whole thing.