google israel 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel has lost the plot. To be precise, we have lost our plot. We are like
tragic characters trying to find the story line in an absurd existentialist
play. We have forgotten our narrative. Whether from self-imposed amnesia or a
wistful yearning for “normality,” we are no longer able to articulate our
remarkable story to ourselves or to the world.
Those who say we must go
“beyond the conflict” to win the battle for international public opinion are
half-right – of course we should tell of the stunning achievements of modern
Israel. But public diplomacy will not succeed until we can unabashedly declare
the story of who we are and why we are here.
Google “why should Israel
exist” and most of what pops up is vitriolic hate about why Israel shouldn’t. If
we are going to advocate for Israel, we must proactively and dramatically
present the essential value that Israel stands for in the world and that frames
all our actions and our efforts at self-defense.
That value is
IN NATAN Sharansky’s inspiring book The Case for Democracy; the
Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror he argues that “all peoples
desire to be free” including the Palestinian Arabs, and that “freedom has the
power to change our world.”
But one thing Sharansky doesn’t emphasize is
that the Jewish people are the original and quintessential national liberation
From the Exodus from Egypt to the struggle against British rule
that led directly to the founding of the State of Israel, the unfinished story
of Israel is our march to freedom. Modern Israel is the solution to the
perennial problem of Jewish homelessness. It is the miraculous culmination of
2,000 years of yearning to recover sovereignty and self-rule in our
Israel needs to retell the story of the ingathering of Jewish
exiles from every corner of the Earth – both before and after the devastation of
the Shoah – individuals who joined the unbroken historical chain of Jews living
in the Land of Israel. We must once again proudly trumpet the extraordinary
pioneers who found their way, against enormous obstacles, to their ancestral
homeland – right up to and including today – and who with through their sweat
and determination built a new future for themselves and the Jewish
We must talk again of how we sacrificed many of our best and
brightest youth who served valiantly in a citizen’s army to protect their
families and keep the fledgling Jewish state free from invading
Our march to national freedom is unique. What other nation,
dispersed for thousands of years and disparaged as without hope, has rebounded
to full vitality? What other people whose identity was so brutally repressed
shook the foundations of a great empire and forced the release of over a million
people, as happened when the “refuseniks” were brought to Israel through the
“Free Soviet Jewry” campaign? What other modern state heard the cries of their
brothers and sisters separated for centuries in the heart of Africa and launched
“Operation Solomon” to fly thousands of endangered Ethiopian Black Jews to
freedom in their ancestral home? And what of the heroic tales we still hear
every day of Jewish immigrants who have made great personal sacrifices to raise
families here? What of the unprecedented creativity that led to breakthroughs in
fields like medicine and green technology? What of the unique blend of cultures
and traditions that have revived the ancient Hebrew language and forged a
living, dynamic culture? IN 1948 most of the world recognized the extraordinary
rebirth that took place here. Today, Israel receives attention – albeit most of
it negative – that is out of all proportion to our size or importance. It is as
if the world continues to expect great developments in the human journey to
emerge in this land.
Indeed, Israel is a crucible of freedom today no
less than in 1948. We are on the front line of the embattled democratic states
fighting against terrorism and tyranny.
What happens to the Jewish people
will indicate whether the world truly cherishes the value of freedom and will
fight to preserve it.
Israel as the Jewish home continues to be under
threat from violent attack and insidious de-legitimization.
those who say it is too difficult to turn the negative tide of public opinion,
whether in global forums or on university campuses.
We must not allow
this to lead us into despair; we must act by restoring our core narrative of
We can energize a grassroots network of supporters around the
world. Together, we can tell the story of Israel as the fulfillment of the
Jewish people’s long march to national liberation in our land – a beacon of hope
for humankind.The writer is Director of Hadar-Israel Council for Civic
Action, a non-profit organization based in Israel.www.hadar-israel.org