Gil Troy: JTA Letter to the Editor “On respecting Birthright participants”

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By Gil Troy, JTA, 4-18-12

On respecting Birthright participants

To the Editor:

Birthright Israel has succeeded by allowing more than 300,000 young Jews to experience Israel’s magic directly, not through the distorting lens of conflict-obsessed reporters. But Birthright’s success also reflects its humanistic, person-centered educational philosophy.

This approach bears repeating to counter the false impression of the JTA article reporting on a debate between Peter Beinart and Barry Shrage, the president of Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Describing the popular mifgash meeting program with Israeli soldiers, Shrage added that for Birthrighters, “Their next major decision may be what fraternity they’re going to join; the Israeli’s decision is whether they’re going to live or die in a special unit.” One student, Emily Unger responded,  “If that’s the attitude of people running Birthright, that the most important thing I’m thinking about is what fraternity to join, that explains why it wasn’t a program run as if I could think like an intelligent person.”

I understand Unger’s anger. No one wants to be dismissed as a mindless party animal. So let me be clear: We at Birthright respect all our participants and understand the serious dilemmas they face. The program invites 18- to 26-year-olds because we understand that it is the age of great decision-making, requiring clear values — and time to think.

Birthright Israel’s core educational principles provide a quilted theory — an integrated platform – combining an experiential approach, a culture of values, a culture of ideas, person-centered education, social interactionism and fun. We respect each participant’s intelligence, independence and integrity, only asking them to participate constructively and then draw their own conclusions.

Barry Shrage knows this. He has been one of the pioneers in the identity-building revolution sweeping the Jewish world. He was humbly acknowledging the life-and-death choices Israelis make – and American students’ good fortune in not having to make that choice.

Gil Troy
Professor, McGill University
Chairman, International Education Committee, Birthright Israel


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Montreal a model for other Jewish communities

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By Gil Troy, Canadian Jewish News, 11-10-11

The mid-October issue of the Jerusalem Report exploded as a naches-bomb for me. Naches, of course, is that delicious Yiddish word meaning delighting in someone else’s accomplishments. My delight stemmed from two articles in that issue demonstrating how young Montrealers are revitalizing the Jewish world. These articles raise the question of how did these transformative, creative juices start flowing in Montreal?

The first article described downtown Toronto’s vibrant Jewish scene, centring on the hip, Carlebachian “Annex Shul.” One co-founder, Richard Meloff, is a Torontonian who studied at McGill University in the mid-1990s, while the Annex’s spiritual leader, Yacov Fruchter, is a Montrealer who enrolled at McGill in 2002.

The second article was written by a Montrealer who is now a Jerusalemite, Justin Korda, executive director of ROI community, an international network of 600 social entrepreneurs and Jewish innovators in 40 countries, created by American Jewish philanthropist Lynn Schusterman. Korda’s article, “Innovating Jewishly,” describes how social entrepreneurs are transforming modern Jewish life at the grassroots level, social entrepreneurs being innovators who combine “the vision of a social reformer with the business acumen of an entrepreneur.”

The Montreal flavour to these welcome Jewish revolutions struck me because when I moved to Montreal in 1990, I saw a stodgy, top-heavy, uncreative Jewish community. Even the few young Jews involved in this decaying city seemed prematurely old, shmoozing their elders, not wowing their peers. Although still dining out on its Yiddishist, Zionist prime earlier in the 20th century, the city was now traumatized by Quebec separatism, which sent many young Jews packing. Montreal Judaism seemed more likely to turn Jews off than turn them – and others – on.

I asked Meloff how he explained Montreal’s success in helping to incubate exciting new Jewish expressions. “Montreal’s Jewish community was where I was when I started to feel the tug of my faith and heritage and it was a wonderful, welcoming place,” Meloff responded. He was impressed by Montreal’s ideological diversity – “there was Hillel and Chabad, Revisionist Zionists and progressive Zionists, and perhaps most critically, a tight-knit and traditional community that surrounded the school. Toronto is huge and impressive, but the community is far-flung. Montreal seemed so intimate yet still had the amenities of a significant community.” Meloff got the message that “you could do anything you wanted from a community point of view” – which soon resulted in the launching of the “Ghetto Shul,” a vibrant, intimate, student-based synagogue in Montreal which has inspired – and helped populate – Toronto’s “Annex Shul.”

Fruchter notes that Montreal’s traditionalism provides such solid grounding for Jewish life in the city, including “a fairly strong knowledge base,” as well as “strong Holocaust education and a commitment to Israel.” He also draws inspiration from leading activist Orthodox rabbis such as Rabbi Reuben Poupko and Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz. Fruchter appreciates the “Moroccan (French) element of the Jewish community,” which “has remained distinct while adding some ‘cool’ and spicy flavour to the overall community,” as well as the “fertile ground for cross-denominational exchange” resulting from the mix of Toronto and Montreal Jews at McGill. Finally, Fruchter mentions that “Hillel and the Ghetto Shul are set up to maximize empowerment and ownership. When I was the student president of Hillel Montreal, I controlled the $50,000 program budget.”

In his article, Korda, who with his friend Sig Shore created a dynamic duo of Jewish activism during their days at McGill, added another critical element, the successful Birthright Israel program which has connected thousands of young Jews to each other and to their heritage through “transformative free trips to Israel.” Birthright Israel helped inspire the founding of the Ghetto Shul, which inspired the founding of the Annex Shul, while ROI logically flows from philanthropist Lynn Schusterman’s generous involvement with Birthright.

I would also add two important “I” words – infrastructure and investment. Montreal has a rich Jewish organizational and educational network, maintained by a strong federation and thousands of generous donors. Visionary donors such as Charles and Andy Bronfman were also critical in funding identity-oriented initiatives, small and large, which bore fruit later.

The Montreal formula, then, emerges. A traditional, literate, well-organized, and well-financed community also needs strong youth-oriented programming, empowered young leaders and an openness to new ideas. But ultimately, you need sparkplugs, young, passionate, creative people to create a new mix, putting their dynamic modern twist on our ancient, enduring, traditions.

Birthright Israel is pro-fun and profound

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 6-19-11

Inherent in the title of Brian Schaefer’s op-ed on Dorot and Birthright “10 days, 10 months,” is the problem with the comparison he is making. Dorot offers an exclusive ten-month fellowship to “a small cohort of passionate and curious American Jews.” Taglit-Birthright Israel provides free ten-day Israel experiences for tens of thousands of Jews, ages 18 to 26, who have never visited Israel in an organized group. Comparing Birthright to Dorot is like comparing freshman week to a year-long graduate seminar. Dorot should be seen as one of the many programs Birthright Israel graduates can – and do — attend, not some artificially high standard for judging an introductory program.

In fairness, Schaefer’s critique goes deeper. He accuses Birthright Israel of relying on rambunctiousness rather than addressing Israel’s “sticky issues,” of treating participants as “consumers and cheerleaders” not “stakeholders and advocates.”

Yes, it is true, Birthright is fun. This exuberance is part of the Birthright magic and its success — 90 percent of participants reach Birthright thanks to word of mouth. When is the last time we read in the Jewish press a complaint about Jewish kids having too much fun at an organized Jewish community event? If Diaspora communities offered more exciting, exhilarating, engaging, enriching, enlightening programs for Jews growing up, we would not need the last-minute intervention of programs like Birthright to encourage young, frequently alienated, Jews to restart and reorient their Jewish journeys.

A gateway program, Birthright welcomes many Jews who are on the way out. The gift comes with “no strings attached,” meaning no ideological, theological, political, or institutional demands beyond participating constructively. And it is a populist program – although most participants attend or graduated from America’s top 50 universities. But to assume therefore it is all “Goldstar and humous,” misses its multi-layered educational process, both formal and informal. Birthright succeeds in being pro-fun and profound.

Birthright offers a first-timers tour, showcasing Israel’s greatest hits and most defining experiences, requiring that every group visit Jerusalem, celebrate Shabbat, hike in the countryside, etc. The planned, more standard, moments mix with many smaller informal moments, encouraging spontaneity, complexity, individual discovery.

Since Birthright began 11 years ago, demographers have tracked participants, discovering their lower intermarriage rates and higher rates of Jewish engagement and Israel engagement. The Birthright bounce has linked this younger generation closer to Israel, despite claims of political alienation. Anecdotally, the overwhelming majority of more than 250,000 Birthright alumni testify enthusiastically to undergoing amazing, substantive, and usually transformational experiences.

Birthright’s “quilted theory” of young adult identity education weaves together sites, experiences, and discussions. Each tour features a concise “birds-eye” overview of Jewish history, giving the Jewish people’s story; discussions about Israel as a modern contemporary Jewish state; explanations connecting Judaism, Jewish values, and Israel; exposure to Israel’s diverse views reflecting modern Jewish pluralism; introduction to Israel as a rich laboratory for Jewish arts and culture; and glimpses of the role ecology, environmentalism, science and technology play in cutting-edge Israel.

As a result, participants experience the trip in four important dimensions:

First, the Israel they see. Day after jam-packed day, Birthright participants see, smell, touch, this extraordinary altneuland, Old New Land. In learning about Israel’s past, present, and future, participants address Israel’s challenges too. Participants discover an Israel that is neither defined by negative headlines nor superficial slogans.

Next, the Judaism they discover. The Birthright Jewish experience is more vibrant, exuberant, welcoming than the Judaism many experienced before. It is also a Judaism that acknowledges people hood as a central glue uniting us – enlightening participants about a key dimension of Judaism many have long experienced but few have understood.

Third, the interactions they have. The late night talks, the discussions with tour educators or medics, or bus drivers, the arguments that sometimes erupt, all spin a web of often extremely intense, soul-stretching, mind-blowing, identity-transforming conversations, in a safe space – and a community context.

Finally, the “mifgash,” participants’ encounters with Israeli soldiers, tries to burst through the bubble of the Israel tour. The IDF Educational Branch embraces this experience because the soldiers appreciate how meaningful the interactions are. I have witnessed numerous intense, often emotional, encounters at Israel’s National Military cemetery at Har Herzl, where soldiers shared some of their difficult dilemmas and searing traumas with newly-sensitized participants.

A few years ago, I sat with Birthrighters and soldiers in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. One soldier remembered being ambushed in Gaza. He and his surviving buddies searched on their hands and knees in the sand for their dead comrades’ body parts. He said that until Birthright, he had not realized his ties to the Jewish people worldwide, not just to Israel – which made his national service more meaningful. Other soldiers have admitted their joy in encountering pluralistic yet passionate American-style Judaism, which more Israelis should experience.

And yes, Birthright is a Jewish identity program, addressed to young Jews yearning to understand who they are and where they come from. Without a firm identity in this globalizing world it is hard to find ourselves or figure out how to help. I am repeatedly amazed at how effective Birthright is at stirring up thoughts, feelings, conversations, for so many participants – although it remains a first step. Here, Schaefer is absolutely right. We must work harder on pre-and post-programming, so Birthright is not a vacation from real life but an effective Jewish jumpstart.

The appropriate framing for his article would have been to introduce Dorot – along with MASA’s many Jewish Agency supported Israel programs — as the logical next step after that initial Birthright encounter. Among Birthright’s happy, unintended consequences has been the new popularity in Israel programs, especially through MASA, and the important act of putting the needs of twenty- and thirty-somethings on the Jewish communal agenda.

Finally, a friendly warning to Schaefer. I began as a Birthright skeptic who wrote a critical article about the program when it debuted. I now chair Birthright Israel’s International Education Committee. I invite him to meet with me and suggest improvements, because he is correct. “The struggle is to keep looking” — in Israel to see how it can improve and in Birthright to see how it can continue to improve too.

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGillUniversity and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow. The author of “Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today,” he has chaired Birthright Israel’s International Education Committee since 2010. giltroy@gmail.com

Becoming an Activist

By Gil Troy, The New Vilna Review, 11-28-10

I always shock my students by admitting that when I attended Harvard University as an undergraduate, class of 1982, I was shy. I always had things to say in sections but was too intimidated to speak.  As a graduate student and then a lecturer in history and literature there, I gained more confidence – I often call graduate school my finishing school. Still, during ten years at Harvard, the only time I was in the newspaper was in 1982 during a collective bout of food poisoning. Interviewed about “Quincy House Plague,” I told the Harvard Crimson that while lying on the floor retching, I could hear a chorus of others suffering through the bathroom vents and added: “It was charming.” That was the Crimson’s quotation of the day.

Teaching at McGill in the 1990s, I kept my public profile low, especially on Jewish affairs. I had been involved in the Young Judaea Zionist youth movement in high school, and worked at Camp Tel Yehudah while in graduate school. But I took refuge in my name “Gil Troy” – although my “Christian” name is Gilad, and my father was born Troyansky.  Being “Gil Troy” not “Gilad Troyansky” meant that, beyond getting warm welcomes in Greek restaurants, I was ethnically “clean.” One colleague once told me, “There are so few WASPs like us left at Harvard.” I replied, putting on my heaviest New Yawk accent, “even fewer den u tink!” And every spring, earnest young freshmen would approach me,  saying, “Professor Troy, we need to take off the next two nights” – as if we met at night – “for the Passover say-ders,” saying “seder”  slowly for my supposed non-Jewish ears. Furrowing my brow, I would ask if they were going to make up the extra work, then surprise them by saying “chag sameach.”

Truth is, I wanted to “make it” in “the real world” as a regular person. I did not want to run into extra static or stand out as a “model minority.” I was not ashamed of being Jewish. I had a rich Jewish private life but no public life.

That changed, a decade ago, due to two forces, one positive, one negative. The positive spur was the establishment of birthright Israel. When I first heard about this idea to send young Jews aged 18 to 26 to Israel for free for ten days, I feared the community was throwing money once again at the “continuity problem.” I wrote an article in Moment that if these new trips offered the same old Jewish guilt trip, they would fail.

If you criticize Jews, either you are lucky and get demonized, never to be bothered again, or you get the kind of call I got saying, “OK, big shot, help make this work.” Before I knew it, I was chairing the Montreal birthright task force, accompanying the first 200 birthright students from Montreal to Israel. Seeing how educationally sound the program was, and how much power the Israel experience had for alienated young Jews, I wrote a follow-article “Birthright Israel:  Why I Was Wrong.”

That first trip was in February 2000. In September 2000, Yasir Arafat led the Palestinians away from the Oslo peace negotiations back toward terrorism. I supported Oslo. One of the first articles I ever wrote in the Canadian Jewish News warned that if we did not build personal relations between Jews and Palestinians, in the Diaspora and Israel, then, when we hit bumps in the peace process, we would lack the necessary good will to insulate the peace process and protect it.

That Israel made such tremendous concessions during Oslo, especially bringing Arafat back, training and arming his men, was extremely significant for me. The fact that nevertheless as soon as the Palestinians resorted to terror, Israel was attacked simply for defending herself traumatized me. I felt betrayed by the Palestinians, by the hypercritical UN, and by much of the world. As things deteriorated, I smelled that ugly, stale smell of anti-Semitism shaping too much of the criticism. I did not see how we could have peace when Palestinians and their allies delegitimized Israel, attacking Israel’s right to exist, precisely when they were arguing for their national rights and most Israelis finally, belatedly, had recognized them.

Together, the birthright inspiration along with the trauma of Palestinian terrorism and rejectionism spurred my activism, and the book that I wrote “Why I Am a Zionist.” I came out publicly as a Jew, proud and loud, finding my own personal voice too. Students don’t explain “say-der” to me anymore.

Gil Troy was educated at Harvard University and is currently Professor of History at McGill University in Montreal. He is also the current Chair of the Birthirght Israel International Education Committee and a Visiting Scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, DC. Dr. Troy is the author of several books, including Why I Am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.



Center Field: Diaspora-Israel relations as bad date

Jerusalem Post, July 27, 2008

The results of the third annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes toward World Jewry commissioned by the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem are in, and once again we can proclaim: Israel-Diaspora relations remain less fraternal than we like to believe – and more like a bad date than we really acknowledge. Just as North American Jews are convinced that Israelis need us more than we need them, Israelis believe we need them more than they need us. In this survey, focusing on the Israeli side of the equation, most Israeli Jews – 76 percent – believed it is safer to live as a Jew in Israel than in the Diaspora, while 43 percent believed the State of Israel rather than the local Jewish community was more responsible for fighting anti-Semitic outbreaks in the Diaspora.

These results reveal a condescending Israeli approach to Diaspora Jews as weak, embattled, incapable of self-defense, and dependent on Israeli super-heroes to save them. These attitudes would be more offensive if they were not matched by the too-prevalent Diaspora view of Israelis as weak, embattled, poor cousins needing Diaspora donations – and impassioned letters to the editor – to survive. In fact, both communities are far stronger, more independent, and in some ways more interdependent than most Jews on either side of the Atlantic realize.

Fortunately, the survey uncovered a strong shaft of light bursting forth from this gloom. Nearly half the Israelis surveyed approved of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent announcement, shifting Israel-Diaspora policy away from promoting mass Aliyah. Instead, Olmert’s welcome move sought to improve Jewish education in Jewish communities, emphasizing Hebrew, Jewish culture and heritage, Jewish values, and strengthening the links between world Jewry and the State of Israel. This is a marvelous mutual agenda. Aside from Hebrew, which in Israel is thriving, Israeli Jews would also benefit by learning more about their culture, heritage, ethics, and fellow Jews. The failures of the Israeli educational system in most of these areas are as dismaying as the failures of the Diaspora Jewish educational system in these realms.

Prime Minister Olmert was right to first emphasize Hebrew. Hebrew remains the key to Jewish learning, offering entrée to two of the most fundamental Jewish experiences: attending synagogue and visiting the State of Israel. Of course, one can do either without knowing Hebrew, but mastering the language allows Jews to approach prayer in a more knowledgeable fashion and to approach Israel as insiders not outsiders, as brothers and sisters coming home not tourists visiting an exotic locale. It is lamentable that so many of this generation of Diaspora Jews have distanced themselves from Hebrew. Even many of the finest Jewish day schools in North America no longer emphasize Ivrit, fearing that their students will not be able to appreciate Judaism’s relevance if filtered through a “foreign language.” The rest of the world is appreciating the value of knowing multiple language – yet our parents and educators are spurning a great mind-expanding opportunity, fearful that their “bubbelehs” (all of whom during their bar and bat mitzvahs are hailed as geniuses) somehow won’t be able to cope with the second language.

Although the Israeli school system does a good job teaching Hebrew, both the religious and secular schools are far less effective in teaching a love of Judaism. Too much of the religious education emphasizes dos and don’ts rather than whys; too much of the secular system approaches Jewish studies as a laborious requirement to be endured rather than a blessed opportunity to be enriched.

Mutual salvation is possible here. Both Israelis and Diaspora Jews would benefit from a joint Jewish renaissance, a new commitment throughout the Jewish world to learning from each other about our past and our present to guarantee a more dynamic future. In this  — and so many other realms – birthright Israel has shown the way. The program offering free trips to Israel for young Diaspora Jews has a “Mifgash,” requirement, wherein young Israelis – and now, frequently Israeli soldiers – join the trips for a significant part. The initial motivation was to give Diaspora Jews a more authentic link to Israel; most of the Israelis who have participated have ended up experiencing their own reawakening. The Israeli Army Education branch has become an enthusiastic cheerleader for the program, seeing how it makes most Israeli soldiers absorb a keen sense of peoplehood, a newfound love of Judaism, and a deeper understanding that they are not just defending their homes but the Jewish people’s homeland. These successes reinforce Olmert’s essential insight – by taking responsibility for teaching Diaspora Jews, Israeli Jews will jumpstart their own process of becoming responsible and knowledgeable Jews.

Inevitably, much of the energy in developing this new chapter of Israel-Diaspora will focus on formal education – which certainly needs reforming. In the spirit of the Zionist youth movements that helped establish the state, informal education will also get attention. But in order for this renaissance to resonate most broadly, we need to think of a whole other dimension – that of popular culture, perhaps the most influential force in young Jewish lives today, be they in the Diaspora or in Israel.

Recently, I looked for some Hebrew books on Israeli history in a Jerusalem bookstore. “We don’t really have much of a selection,” the saleswoman said. “Really, in Barnes and Noble in New York there are shelves full of American history works for kids,” I replied. “We’re not just that patriotic,” the saleswoman replied with a world-weary sigh, despite being barely 25. This exchange illustrates the formidable challenge we face. We need to learn from American Girl, this extraordinary marketing colossus that has brilliantly fused inspiring stories from America’s past, the contemporary search for some “Girl Power” role models, and the crassest form of commercialism. We need to create a Hebrew-English Jewish Harry Potter, perhaps situated in Temple Times, plumbing the mysteries of Judaism in a delightful, compelling way. We need to mimic Disney, which so cleverly blurs shameless entertainment with education about science, history, geography.

This is not an endorsement of watered-down Judaism, whereby we create a pop Judaism as meaningless as the rest of modern popular culture. Rather, this is a call for an invigorated Jewish atmosphere, in Israel and the Diaspora, that harnesses the power of popular culture to redirect our youth, on both sides of the Atlantic toward meaningful interactions with our profoundly rich civilization. But just as Olmert’s strategy recognizes that we will only see a rise in Aliyah after we have seen a resurgence of education, we will not see that educational resurgence, until we get more young Jews to consider embracing their heritage, their people, their faith as their fundamental anchors in this tempest-tossed and trend-obsessed world.

Gil Troy at Hadassah’s 94th Annual Convention

The growing materialism and “meaninglessness” in much of American Jewry could be fought with teaching Zionism by creating savings accounts for children and teenagers to be used for eventual trips to Israel, suggested McGill University history Prof. Gil Troy.

Gil Troy

Gil Troy

Speaking on Monday, the second day of the 94th annual Hadassah convention at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, Troy and other speakers at a plenary session “Is Israel on Your Radar Screen?” bemoaned the fact that the younger Diaspora Jews are, the less likely they are to care about or identify with Israel.

The birthright program that will bring 42,000 young Jews to Israel for 10-day trips this year is excellent, said Troy, “but we have also to take personal responsibility for it and take more vacations in Israel. As the father of four young children, I know that Jewish children get more and more unnecessary gifts. Instead, think of Zionism as an answer for materialism. Hadassah, he suggested, can lead by organizing such savings accounts for travel to Israel. He also advocated widespread teaching of Hebrew to American Jews.

The convention’s 2,000 delegates were polled instantaneously using electronic devices that captured their opinions. When asked whether their youngest adult child was just as attached to Israel as they were, only half answered yes, and 85 percent felt that Jews in their 20s and 30s are not as attached to Israel as their elders.

Prof. Steven Cohen, a researcher in Jewish social policy at the Hebrew Union College, conducted his own scientific study of non-Orthodox American Jews who constitute 90% of Americans who identify themselves as Jews.

According to all measures, the younger they are, the less attachment they feel about Israel. “It’s a terrible tragedy. The only exception of less activity compared to their elders is that younger Jews are more likely to speak to non-Jews about Israel, but this is because they know more non-Jews.”

Because the poll queried people who identified as Jews, Cohen said it “overrepresents Jewish attachment to Israel because there are many intermarried and assimilated Jews who do not identify themselves as such.”

The serious decline in donations to Jewish causes since the 1980s reflects the fact that unmarried intermarried Jews are less inclined to financially support Jewish and Israeli causes, Cohen said.

“The strongest predictor of attachment to Israel is if you have a Jewish marriage partner. There is a corrosive effect on Jewish identity in the US. You can’t sustain ethnicity if don’t have Jewish friends, neighbors and spouses, but two-thirds of young Jews have a non-Jewish romantic partner.

“Assimilation and intermarriage is at the root of declining identification by Jews with and support for Israel. But an antidote is to travel to Israel, and the more you come, the better.”

Cohen also endorsed Jewish financial support for Jewish summer camps and youth movements, independent prayer groups and Jewish learning.

Rabbi Eli Stern, director of special projects at the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, said that there is a “profound identity shift among young Diaspora Jews from assumed Jewish identify to asking why one should be Jewish at all.”

The serious decline of the Conservative Movement, which always supported Israel, Stern said, reflects this disillusionment.

While political support for Israel in the general American population remains strong, using Israel as a source for collective Jewish identity has taken a tremendous hit, Stern added.

Former Israeli cabinet minister, refusenik and human rights activist in the Soviet Union, Natan Sharansky, who is now chairman of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, said at the convention that the growing view among young Jews that freedom and peace can be achieved only by rejecting ethnicity, nationalism and faith was dangerous.

“They think that freedom and identity are on opposite sides, that there no values worth dying for. There must be no hesitation in saying proudly that we are for justice and human rights, but the only way we can defend and protect Israel is going back to our roots and being proud Jews,” he said, earning a standing ovation.