Limmud FSU Belarus conference .
(photo credit: COURTESY OF LIMMUD FSU)
Last week, I attended my first-ever Limmud conference in England, where I spent a significant chunk of time talking about why Israel is an admirable country and a force for good in the world. As regular readers will know, that’s not my standard practice; usually, I write about all the ways in which Israel still falls short of my aspirations. But my Limmud experience convinced me that talking about Israel’s good points is something all Israelis need to do far more often. There are Jews overseas – and presumably non-Jews as well – who still want to love Israel, and crave reassurance that this is a reasonable thing to do. And if Israelis don’t give it to them, who will?Granted, there’s a reason why Israelis spend so much time dwelling on Israel’s problems: It’s one of the things that makes this country great. Israel could never have achieved what it has over the last 66 years if Israelis were content to rest on their laurels; it’s precisely because Israelis always want to make things better – even when they’re already pretty good – that Israel in fact keeps becoming better in all kinds of ways. Complaining about a problem obviously doesn’t solve it, but the fact that Israeli public discourse focuses relentlessly on identify problems, drawing attention to them and discussing possible solutions does generate public pressure for improvement.