Announcement: Gil Troy, Open Zion 2.0

Open Zion 2.0

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

Open Zion – The Daily Beast, 9-4-12

By , 9-4-12

When Open Zion launched a few months ago, it had three staffers: myself and two enormously talented recent college graduates, Elisheva Goldberg and Raphael Magarik. With their combination of intellectual curiosity, tireless energy, commitment to the Jewish people and passion for justice and human dignity, Elisheva and Raffi helped launch a blog whose traffic has grown five-fold since its creation. Sadly for me, however, I always knew that they would not stay more than a year, and both have now gone to Israel, where they are working on behalf of the same liberal democratic Zionist vision that lies at the core of this blog. Luckily, they will both continue to write for us from there.

Starting today, we inaugurate a new Open Zion team. It starts with Gil Troy. Gil is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and a professor of history at McGill University. He’s also author of Why I am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today and the forthcoming Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism. He has been a frequent contributor to Open Zion over the past few months, and now joins us as editor-at-large. Joining Gil is Ali Gharib, most recently national security reporter for thinkprogress.org, the website of the Center for American Progress, who will join the site as senior editor. We are also lucky to be joined by assistant editor Sigal Samuel, a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia who has worked at the Jerusalem Post and the American Jewish World Service.

Open Zion is an experiment. It is a blog with a passionate commitment to Jewish identity, Jewish culture and Jewish religion that believes just as passionately that the debate about the future of the Jewish state should be open to everyone, whether they share that background and commitment or not. It is a blog whose core belief is that justice, dignity and safety for both Israelis and Palestinians requires a division of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean into two democratic states, one Jewish and one Palestinian. Yet it welcomes opposing views, believing that the principles of liberal Zionism cannot be simply assumed, but must rather be defended in respectful discussion with critics from both left and right. In our short existence, we have tried to live those principles, publishing writers as diverse as the Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi and the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset from Likud, Danny Danon. As we said in our founding statement, we do not draw red lines; we debate them.

Gil, Ali and Sigal continue this commitment to serious, lively debate among people of varying perspectives and backgrounds. Gil is an historian of American politics, a scholar of Zionism, an observant Jew, a resident of Jerusalem and a keen observer of Israeli society and its relationship with the diaspora. Ali is a devoted secularist raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC by parents who fled the Iranian revolution. He is also among the most astute bloggers on American politics, Middle Eastern politics, and the intersection between the two writing today. Sigal was born in Montreal to a family of Mizrahi Jewish descent, studied in yeshivas in both Israel and North America, and now writes about Jewish texts, feminist theory and arts and culture.

With Americans debating whom to elect president, Israelis debating war with Iran and Palestinians debating another statehood bid at the United Nations, this promises to be a dramatic, divisive, and perhaps terrifying, fall. With Gil, Ali and Sigal’s help, our goal is to continue to create a space that surrounds these dramas with criticism, analysis and intense but civil debate. We hope that on Twitter and Facebook and through comment threads and reader submissions, you’ll join in.

Peter Beinart is editor in chief of Open Zion, a blog about Israel, Palestine, and the Jewish future at The Daily Beast. He is the author of The Crisis of Zionism (Times Books).

Gil Troy: March of the Living Canada 2012 Mini Israel Ceremony: Keynote Address, Lay Down Your Arms

VIDEOS

 

March of the Living Canada 2012 Mini Israel Ceremony, Gil Troy Keynote, Lay Down Your Arms

Every year, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, thousands of students march from Auschwitz to Birkenau honoring the memories of six million Jews and so many other innocent people murdered in the Holocaust. The students then travel to Israel, where a week later they celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.
These scenes are taken from the 2012 Canadian March of the Living ceremony held on April 25th, 2012, at Mini-Israel, marking the transition from Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Remembrance Day) to Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day).

This segment includes the keynote speeches from Gil Troy, Professor of History at McGill University. He was introduced by Michael Soberman, National Director, Canada Israel Experience.

My temporary visa to the land of the disabled

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By Gil Troy, Montreal Gazette, 4-30-12

It was the kind of big, fancy cocktail party I attend rarely enough that I enjoy the occasion. I was looking forward to this one because, in addition to liking the honoree and his family, there were half a dozen friends whom I rarely see amid the 1,500 guests, just enough to make for an interesting evening.

Yet as soon as I arrived, I wanted to leave. I felt nervous, vulnerable, endangered. For the first time in my life, I entered a crowded room full of partying people enjoying themselves and not really thinking about who they might bump into – literally – while I was hobbling on crutches.

Less than a week before, I had been soaring, running in the Jerusalem halfmarathon while on academic leave in Israel this year. Running with thousands of people with this ancient city as the backdrop was magical. Unfortunately, an undiagnosed and improperly healed fracture from a bicycle accident two years before turned into a stress fracture, and I collapsed at the 20.5-kilometre mark of the 21-kilometre race. I ended up with emergency surgery, a plate, and five screws in my femur two days later.

Ironically, both the bike accident and this stress fracture resulted from a health kick. For decades I had a sedentary professorial lifestyle that resulted in no hospital runs. I started jogging and occasionally biking with dramatically mixed results – weight and blood pressure down, heart rate excellent – but two sports injuries.

Fundamentally, I am fine. This setback is temporary. But my two crutches – the low-forearm kind, not the painful under-the-armpit type – offer a visa to the world of the handicapped. In this alternate universe, innocuous settings like cocktail parties can feel dangerous, and so many actions that most of us take for granted must be thought through and planned out, or sometimes skipped because the extra effort is not worth it.

As I am still in post-op recovery, I frequently fall into an unusually deep sleep. Whenever I awake, I assume I am fine and can stand – until I see those darned crutches. Hobbling about with them invites sympathetic stares, stopped cars when I cross the street, and far too much discussion when I socialize.

When I am using the crutches, my hands are helping me walk and can’t do much else. Even breakfast is an ordeal, although I can now grasp the big orangejuice container with my fingertips while gripping the crutches with my fist. What was once an easy, automatic morning routine now requires three laborious round trips: yogurt and OJ from fridge to table; glass, bowl and spoon from cabinet to table; and cereal from pantry to table. Of course I could ask my wife or children, who have been extraordinarily helpful. But when you ask for so much so frequently – because everything is always in the wrong room or on the wrong floor – you also want to do something yourself.

My breakfast trial is repeated morning, noon and night. Getting dressed, showering, fetching the newspaper – each action requires too much planning, too much strain, too much improvisation. After two weeks of this, I should feel cranky. Yet I am more often humbled and awestruck.

I am humbled because I know my visa will lapse soon and I will return to “normal.” I have friends with permanent passports to this challenging world of the disabled. Some have always lived there, while two friends in particular are learning to cope with dramatically more limited and more lasting limitations. All I need to do is remember their predicaments – or those of countless others – and my drops of self-pity transform into tidal waves of empathy for them and their families.

Moreover, while as a historian I am more the rationalist than the mystic, my visit to this demanding, draining world has made me awestruck by the miracles of the everyday. We take for granted our health, our functioning, the many things we do instinctively, automatically. Our brains process so much and orchestrate so many actions hour by hour, flawlessly, and our bodies co-operate magnificently. I would wish my experience on no one. But I want to share with everyone my new-found appreciation for what most of us do have, for what most of us can do.

In modern society, despite all we have materially, technologically and politically, we are enduring epidemic levels of unhappiness, discontent and psychological distress. The therapy business is booming; we consume psychotropic drugs by the warehouse-full. I have long believed in Vitamin P: perspective. We need to view our concerns, challenges, worries and fears in a broader context. North Americans should see their problems – as pressing as they may feel them to be – in comparison to the poverty and the sanitation and safety challenges that most humans in Africa and Asia endure.

And those of us lucky enough to be healthy – and I still define myself as belonging to that happy club – should appreciate the simple joys of getting breakfast, going to work, being able to play, and living the basic miracle of life.

Meanwhile, my sojourn in the land of the disabled has helped teach me that those with physical limitations also find joy and meaning in the important things of life – relationships, ideas, values, achievements – despite their challenges.

Gil Troy: My Response to Rashid Khalidi

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By , Open Zion, The Daily Beast, 4-27-12

Professor Khalidi is anxious to bar me from the debate about the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem’s building site that adjoins an ancient Moslem graveyard by questioning my credentials. And I guess he is right.

Offering a symphony of subtlety to a Middle East problem may well be too “American.” It is unfortunate that he could not see in my response any basis for common discourse or compromise or acknowledge that my essay essentially endorsed his goal of preserving the Mamilla Cemetery out of shared reverence for his ancestors and out of respect for his—and others’—feelings.

However, I am sorry to disappoint Professor Khalidi. I will not retreat in the wake of his assault. I stand by my criticism. Without rehashing the entire debate, allow me to offer three correctives to his version of events that prove my point that the whole situation is a classic Middle East muddle rather than a black-and-white situation with the Israelis and Jews acting as evil stick figures.

For starters, Khalidi indignantly dismisses what he calls “the canard regarding the Palace Hotel.” Sounding more like a lawyer than an historian, he carefully emphasizes that “it was always outside the boundaries of the cemetery, so the specter of the Mufti invoked by Troy” is like “a ghost rattling chains to scare the naïve and ignorant.” I had pointed out that the “fiery Palestinian nationalist Haj Amn al Husseini … built the magnificent Palace Hotel on one side of this huge expanse” and “decreed the end to burials in the cemetery.” If we’re interested in full disclosure, we should acknowledge that one of the architects who worked on the Palace Hotel, Baruch Katinka, wrote in his memoirs that while excavating the foundations, workers discovered human remains—suggesting that the boundaries of the Mamilla Cemetery were less clear than Khalidi would have us believe.

Moreover, when Katinka reported this discovery to the Grand Mufti, the Islamic leader ordered Katinka to rebury the bones elsewhere.  To be fair, because I acknowledge complexity, I will admit that this triggered a religious and political dispute among Muslim religious leaders, and that is why I conclude that the Simon Wiesenthal Center has rights to build but would be wiser not to exercise them.

Similarly, it would be fair to acknowledge this dispute’s timeline, because that, too, lightens the burden on the Wiesenthal Center. As described in the Israeli Supreme Court opinion, the building plan was published on August 29, 2002, the application was approved on October 27, 2004, and remains were only found toward the end of 2005, triggering an even later objection. So the Museum of Tolerance did not target a Muslim cemetery. It began building an important project on an area that was an eyesore—an ugly multistory parking lot—then stumbled into this mess.

Finally, the Supreme Court judgment detailed three different compromise solutions offered, which are often used when human remains are found on building sites in Israel. These included “hand excavation,”  “freezing the area” then extracting the bones, or cutting the graves out, raising them on a wooden platform and transporting them to an “alternative site” with no direct human contact being made to respect the graves’ sanctity. These proposals, even if not fully satisfying to the plaintiffs, also demonstrate more good will and intricacy than Khalidi suggests.

Maybe those Wiesenthal people have a point when they complain that their attempts at compromise have been rebuffed. But there again I guess am showing my alleged ignorance by trying to avoid a zero-sum, black-white, good versus evil discussion here.

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Engaging Israel Research Fellow in Jerusalem. His next book, “Moynihan’s Moment: The Fight against Zionism as Racism,” will be published by Oxford University Press this fall.

Gil Troy: Struggling With Jewish Power

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By Gil Troy, Shalom Hartman Institute, 4-25-12

Gil Troy, a Fellow of the Engaging Israel Project at Shalom Hartman Institute, talks about how, in the context of the current US presidential election, Jews in the US and in Israel must come to grips with power.

Israel at 64: What I Am Celebrating This Year… The Sounds, Smells, Sights, Tastes and Touch of Israel

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By Gil Troy, Shalom Hartman Institute, 4-22-12

Fellows of the iEngage Project at Shalom Hartman Institute write about what they are celebrating as Israel turns 64: 
GIL TROY: The Sounds, Smells, Sights, Tastes and Touch of Israel
 
I am celebrating Israel this year with all five senses.
 
I rejoice in the sounds of Israel, from the medley of happy, healthy kids shouting as they play in Jerusalem’s playgrounds – which include the Old City’s ancient alleyways – to the awestruck quiet on Yom Kippur, when through custom not compulsion, few Israelis drive.
 
I delight in the smells of Israel, with the Galilee and Negev in full bloom after a winter of real rain, and that drooping purple plant, the wisteria, entrancing with its sweet fragrance as I wander Jerusalem’s streets.
 
I celebrate the sights of Israel, particularly the juxtaposition of old and new I witnessed as I ran the Jerusalem half-marathon this year with thousands of others, starting with the symbols of modern Israeli statesmanship – the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Foreign Ministry – and then cutting through the Old City on the way up to the new neighborhoods of Arnona – and back!
 
I appreciate the tastes of Israel, particularly the flavors I can savor just by waltzing down Emek Refaim Street – from Joy’s modern fusion to Caffit’s creative choices to Marvad Haksamim’s Sephardic delicacies to Buffalo Steak House’s entrecote to Sushi Rehavia’s Sushi, and to my new discovery, thanks to my daughter, the eclectic 54HaMoshava – and all are kosher.
 
And I toast the soft touch of Israel – it feels right to be a part of the Hebrew Revolution, where pigs-in-blankets (mini hotdogs in buns) become Moshe be-teva, Moses in a basket. It feels good to be in a place committed to building an idealistic Zionist “us” not just indulging the never-satisfied “me.” It feels grand to contribute to an experiment in nurturing a liberal democracy with a Jewish sensibility, a modern country proud of its ancient past, a Start-up Nation which is also a Values Nation. Chag Sameach.
independence

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


From marathon man to Hadassah hospital: The light and dark sides of the Jerusalem marathon

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 3-21-12

I feel cranky. There are so many triumphal Jerusalem Marathon stories in the papers. Even Ha’aretz, which could find the Good Samaritan’s dark underside if he called himself Zionist, gushed. My story, sadly, is darker, although it has many streaks of light too.Friday Marathon day was glorious. With traffic shut down and school cancelled, Jerusalem enjoyed a Yom Kippur quiet leavened with a Purim gaiety.

The weather was more Canadian than Israeli with a mix of rain, hail, wind, and sunshine; but the organization of the event was more Swiss than Israeli. Signage and instructions were crystal clear. Supplies were abundant, assistants, gracious. I never expected to run a marathon, half or whole. I was never a jock, never thought of myself as such, and always wanted to be defined by who I was and what I did in the real world, not how I looked and what I accomplished in the wide but artificial world of sports. For decades, my sedentary lifestyle could have won me the worldwide competition for “least likely to suffer a sports injury.”  But in Jerusalem, I went on a health kick, as part of my own Zionist revolution, running through the Old City daily, shedding some of those extra childrearing-related pounds many of us acquire. Ironically, this health kick has caused my only two medical disasters — a bicycle accident two years ago and my current nightmare.

My kids encouraged me to enter the 21 kilometer Half-Marathon. I figured we parents demand so much of them, and my running occasionally detracts from kid time, why not do this for them?  Besides, I could not resist the romance of running through Jerusalem’s streets. The historical and spiritual allure overrode the rational fear of the hills.  After a 16 kilometer practice run with a running guru friend,  I was ready — or so I thought.

The start was exhilarating — but terrifying.  It was a kick, counting down with thousands of Israelis and marathon tourists in front of the Knesset, the symbol of Israeli democracy, “fihve, forrr, srree, doo, von,” then surging ahead, feeling the people power. But navigating around all those pittering-pattering feet as we turned toward the Foreign Ministry and the Supreme Court was as stressful as navigating the parking lot at Jerusalem’s Azrieli Mall on Friday afternoon.

Once we spread out, it was easier, but I was suffering. What started as a minor pull on my left side was throbbing. I was slowing my partners down. The next two hours were tough but delicious. I never thought the encouraging crowds or the thrill of recognizing friends cheering us
along would matter, but it helped. And bonding with the streets of this special city by pounding the pavement, seeing the sights, absorbing the energy of my running partners and our insta-community of 15,000 was fabulous.

Approaching the finish line, sure I could finish, I sent my partners ahead for their final sprints, overriding their protestations. Walking a bit, each step was harder and harder. At kilometer 20.5 or so of 21 I started running. Immediately, my legs turned to putty. I collapsed and could not stand. It turns out I had started with an undiagnosed minor stress fracture on top of an unknown historic injury, possibly from my biking accident, that turned serious. The fracture triggered the muscle seizure which then obscured the fracture for two agonizing, dangerous days. The muscle problem required rest, vitamins, and fluids, and my non-fractured right leg recovered quickly. Sparing any more medical details, three things stand out as I recover from emergency surgery at Hadassah University Medical Center, Mount Scopus.  First, stranded in traffic-clogged Jerusalem, immobile, cut off from my running partners, unable to reach my house because the Marathon route ran passed it, I experienced that famous Israeli sweetness underneath the prickly Sabra skin. Strangers carried me, called home for me, begged to help, as I sat, shivering, in a random office lobby, waiting for the traffic to clear and help to arrive. Second, shifting from faux heroism to humiliating helplessness, unable to complete basic physical tasks, absorbing prognoses ranging from optimistic to catastrophic, is dizzying. The traumas bond me to friends and relatives who have suffered far worse ruptures with the normal. Beyond realizing that we should never take the blessings of normal functioning for granted, beyond my gratitude for the angels of mercy around us — be they kids caring for their temporarily disabled abba or total strangers — I am trying to view this horror as a rebirth.  As modern centers of life and death, hospitals give us an opportunity to reset, reorient, recalibrate, remembering what’s important.

Finally, Hadassah Medical Center remains one of Israel’s miracles. For starters, the first volunteer who approached me, asked, softly, “Do you publish,” and “are you from Queens,” showing he actually read my work – femur broken, pride wounded, but authorial ego intact, whew! More seriously, Hadassah hospital realizes the Zionist vision of serving humanity through particularist pride, as this intensely Jewish place with kosher food and a Jewish soul unites Muslims, Christians and Jews, as patients and staff, so naturally, so beautifully. I room with an Arab plumber from the Mount of Olives and a Sephardic retiree who speaks in prayers and poetry. We all receive the same dignified, cutting-edge, healing treatment from the multicultural parade of doctors and attendants. Hadassah hospital pulsates with love, skill, warmth and humor. Many staffers have walked in, bemused by the marathoning professor – although I feel like the scholarly klutz.  Late Sunday night, after my emergency surgery, through my haze, I heard one doctor say lovingly, not mockingly, “don’t worry professor, you’ll be ready for the Tel Aviv marathon two weeks from now.” I am working on it…..

Obama Offered Two Speeches in One — Neither Worked

By Gil Troy

Despite the talk about “Obama’s Mideast speech” Thursday, I actually heard two separate addresses. In the first, President Barack Obama offered vague nostrums about the “Arab spring,” best summarized in three words: Democracy is good. Obama transitioned awkwardly to the second speech, about Israelis and Palestinians, saying: “Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.” In this section, the professorial president turned from airy abstractions to problematic particulars. Although it was impossible to predict America’s next move in the Arab world from the speech’s first part, we now know exactly how an Israel-Palestine peace treaty would look if Obama could dictate it and those annoying people who live there would just follow.

Sophisticated cinema buffs will have identified the inspiration for the “Democracy is good” quotation – that frat house classic, “Animal House.” In the fictitious campus where the movie’s hijinks occur, the founder’s statue features the empty motto “Knowledge is good.” Of course it is, and so is democracy – for many of the reasons Obama identified. But I defy anyone, based on that speech, to explain why Obama abandoned Hosni Mubarak in Egypt rather quickly, attacked Muhammar Qaddafi very definitively, and dithered with Bashar al-Assad, only abandoning him quite recently. Moreover, can anyone predict Obama’s next move based on this speech or identify just what principles will guide him?

Having failed the tests of consistency and retroactivity, Obama’s words also lacked clarity. The biggest conundrum he faces as various Arab allies face popular revolts, and as other Arab countries potentially face Islamist revolts, is how he balances America’s interest and ideals. Obama identified “core interests,” including “countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel’s security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.” He endorsed finding “mutual interests and mutual respect.” But how to balance all those factors is difficult. I have no idea how to do that, which is why I am happy not to be president. But, as a voter, I have no idea how Obama plans to do it either.

Finally, and surprisingly, Obama’s words lacked legs. Not one phrase seems likely to resonate. And judging by the Franklin Roosevelt majestic, memorable, “four freedoms” standard, Obama’s “universal rights” are mushy and forgettable. Compare Roosevelt: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear – with Obama – “And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.” The “Yes We Can” poet of 2008, has become the technocratic cataloguer of 2011, forgetting basic rules like the power of parallelism in rhetoric.

Not surprisingly, Obama’s more specific and pointed Israel-Palestine peace plan has attracted the most attention – and controversy. Here, by being too specific, Obama once again complicated future negotiations. As President of the United States, dealing with understandably nervous allies in an explosive region, he had a moral obligation to reconcile his proposal with his predecessor’s plans, acknowledging if he was deviating from an earlier consensus while upholding commitments earlier Presidents have made.

Yet, in discussing Hamas, Obama ignored the conditions the Quartet of the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations embraced – requiring the Palestinian government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and honor past agreements. Asking Palestinians to find a “credible answer to the question … How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist” is a start – but lacks the specifics Obama’s predecessor and allies endorsed.

Even more problematic was his call for “the borders of Israel and Palestine” to “be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” These words not only seem to contradict George W. Bush’s vow to Ariel Sharon based on decades of American policy, but the deification of 1967 boundaries lacks historical nuance in a region obsessed with nuance and history.

The logical starting point in advocating a two-state solution comes by acknowledging that in the region particular borders shifted and populations moved. Anyone who talks about people frozen in place for centuries or borders as if they were permamarked on a map is either a fool or a fanatic. Bible-based Israelis must admit that the boundaries of Biblical land of Israel, varied, just as passionate Palestinians must admit that the boundaries of Palestine-Israel in the twentieth-century alone shifted repeatedly.

We cannot undo history and we must move forward, from 2011, trying to minimize disruptions to populations while maximizing satisfaction on both sides. Rather than trying to freeze one random moment in historical time, demography and the current status quo should be our guides, tempered by sensitivity, creativity, and a touch but not too much historicity. Obama’s overlooked line about the “growing number of Palestinians [who] live west of the Jordan River,” explains why each of the two clashing people should have a state. Peace will work if it passes the test of what Obama called populism, working logically for many people today, not at some random point from the past.

Obama did speak beautifully about “a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future.” Alas, this speech did not do enough to buttress the forces of hope over hate, and by feeding the 1967 obsession, Obama himself was too shackled to one unhelpful perspective on the past.

Audio: Why I am a Zionist – Interview with Prof. Gil Troy

Audio: Why I am a Zionist – Interview with Prof. Gil Troy

3/1/2011 9:58:00 AM

A7 Radio’s “Israel Hasbara Hour” with Josh Hasten

Listen Now! Download Mp3

Why I am a Zionist

Why I am a Zionist

www.giltroy.com

On today’s Israel Hasbara Hour, Josh interviews Professor Gil Troy, author of the book Why I am a Zionist, world-renowned history professor at McGill University in Montreal, author, and columnist.

Josh Hasten is the President of the Bar-Am Public Relations firm based in Jerusalem and the CAMERA organization’s 2009 Letter Writer of the Year. He is the founder of LettersForIsrael.com, a service which gives pro-Israel advocates the opportunity to improve their chances of getting their ideas published in the media. Josh hosts the Israel Hasbara Hour podcast live every Monday at 4:00 pm on Israel National Radio.

Press: Pastors take on modern Israel study program

Jewish Tribune, 3-2-11

The Department of Modern Israel Studies at Canada Christian College initiated a new certificate program for senior pastors who are actively engaged in leading congregations in the Greater Toronto Area.

The study program, which was held in Israel, proved to be intensive as it concentrated on the geopolitical environment, the sociology of Israeli society, human rights in the state of Israel, the law, the economy and the religious life and political process in the modern state.

The program was led by the dean of the Modern Israel Studies department, Dr. Frank Dimant (also CEO of B’nai Brith Canada), and included outstanding guest lecturers: Prof. Gil Troy (Hebrew University); Prof. Ofer Gat (Ariel University); Prof. Talia Einhorn (Ariel); Prof. Alexander Bligh (Ariel); Dr. Gabriel Barkai (Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar Ilan University); Alan Baker director, Institute for Contemporary affairs, Jerusalem Center for Public affairs; Prof. Shlomo Maital (Technion); Dr. Robert Rozett (Hebrew University) and Prof.Gidi Shimoni (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), as well as Dr. Avi Dinstein (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Canada Christian College President Dr. Charles McVety, a major leader in the Canadian Evangelical movement, accompanied the group.

Follow-up lectures will take place in Canada and church groups will be featuring programs relating to understanding modern Israel and its position in the world. Both the Institute for international affairs of B’nai Brith Canada and the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem were instrumental in helping to coordinate this study course.

Advocates for Civil Liberties Hold First Forum: Jews Fight Back

by Fern Sidman, INN NY Correspondent, Israel National News, 2-20-11

[Photo : from left,Dr. Gil Troy, professor of history at McGill University, 3rd from left, Dr. Phyllis Chesler, op-ed contributor for Israel National News, 4th from left, Dr. Catherine Chatterley, founder director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism.]

Advocates For Civil Liberties (ACL), a new organization of attorneys, professionals and concerned citizens dedicated to spotlighting anti-Israel propaganda on university campuses across North America, held its first event last week.

The day-long symposium that drew over 400 people, entitled “When Middle East Politics Invade Campus,” was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Toronto.

Conference coordinator Meryle Kates explained that the ACL has been established to advocate for civil liberties protection in Canada, particularly in university settings:

“The ACL seeks to collaborate with academic officials to devise appropriate, enforceable ground rules for campus political activities. Increasingly, demonstrations such as, but not limited to, the upcoming “Israeli Apartheid Week” on campus, create a hostile atmosphere, and one that stifles the genuine exchange of views on sensitive Middle East issues.”

Israeli “Apartheid” Week

“The only way to disprove a lie is to establish the facts,” declared Judge Hadassa Ben Itto as she delivered the opening remarks of the conference via video feed from Jerusalem. Judge Itto is best known for her scholarly monograph entitled “The Lie That Wouldn’t Die, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (2005), on the text that has been used for a century to demonize Jews and delegitimize Israel.

“In 1964, the Protocols were finally declared ‘the hoax of the century, yet both the Jewish people and Israel are now targets of haters who still insist that there is a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world”, she observed.

“The organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week prove that they know nothing about Israel. Professors at some universities are guilty of presenting distorted information about Israel along with one-sided bias and slanderous rhetoric. Boycotts of academics and the assault on the free marketplace of ideas are replicas of the public square where public opinion is dictating policy today.”

Adding that she personally witnessed “real apartheid” in South Africa years ago, she condemned the concept of an Israeli Apartheid Week as “outrageous” and called for responsible educators to set the record straight.

Campus Harrassment

Students at York University in Toronto are no strangers to the acrimony that is engendered during Israeli Apartheid Week as their campus has previously morphed into a hotbed of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred during past events of this kind. Five appeared at the event.

Sara Akrami, an Iranian second year political science student at York said, “Clubs are established at York with the sole purpose of creating discord and promoting anti-Israel violence and the administration takes no action against them.” Ms. Akrami noted that the November 2010 appearance of British parliamentarian George Galloway was opposed by a majority of the students at York. Galloway is a highly polemical figure who achieved notoriety as a rabid hater of the Jewish state.

Josee Chiasson, a fourth year student at York completing an honors BA in psychology, has assumed the role of president of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

“I knew nothing of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during my first year at college. It was only when I visited Israel and witnessed the truth firsthand, did I begin to understand that the insidious rhetoric of the organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week simply did not hold true.”

Ms. Chiasson said, “Hitler promised world peace if only the Jews were eradicated and so did Galloway. He said that if Israel makes peace with the Palestinians then there would be world peace and we know that that is a complete falsehood.” She exhorted students and faculty alike to, “challenge the radical beliefs that are rampant on our campuses” as she spoke of “students who have been targeted for abuse and threats” by vehemently anti-Israel organizations on campus.

Michael Payton, a cognitive science major at York, sociology major Afroza Mohammed and Noah Kochman told of students being subjected to verbal invective and physical assaults by members of the Muslim Student Association and other anti-Israel groups. Mr. Kochman, a member of the Canadian Association of Jewish Students, spoke of the violent outbursts of Palestinian student groups that led to the cancellation of an address scheduled to be delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Concordia University in Montreal as far back as 2002. “Pro-Israel student demonstrators were trapped in their own space, unable to move, because of the overt aggression of the demonstrators who resorted to violence.”

Academic Boycotts

Andrew Roberts, noted British author, historian, lecturer and founding member of the Friends of Israel Initiative,  spoke of the aims of that relatively new organization.

Established in August of 2010 to challenge the British boycott of Israeli academia, Mr. Roberts said that among the goals of the Friends of Israel Initiative were to “counter the growing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders. The Initiative arises out of a sense of deep concern about the unprecedented campaign of delegitimization against Israel waged by enemies of the Jewish state, and perversely, supported by numerous international institutions.” Among the founding members of the Friends of Israeli Initiative is John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations.

Jihad on Campus

Professor Richard Cravatts of Boston University and author of a forthcoming book entitled, “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel”, which documents the web of Islamist influence on the university campus, spoke of “brand hijacking” in terms of Israel’s global image. “Those who would re-write the history of Israel and the narrative of the Palestinians in the Middle East have hijacked Israel’s branding”, he said, adding that we live in a “world turned upside down in its relationship to the interpretation of the reality in the Middle East.”

“We ignore the fact that Arabs in the territories would receive the death penalty for selling an apartment to a Jew, but we never raise our voices when Israel is roundly condemned for building 1300 apartments in East Jerusalem; a right that any other nation takes for granted.”

Warning of the existential threat that Israel faces from the burgeoning Muslim Brotherhood, Eliot Chadoff, a political and military analyst and lecturer on the history of the Middle East said, “There is an all out assault on Israel taking place” and reminded his audience of the parallel between the recent revolution in Egypt and the Iranian revolution that took place in 1979. “It was students, intellectuals and shopkeepers that led the revolution against the Shah of Iran,” he said, but the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood were predicated upon a Nazi-like ideology.

“The campuses have become increasingly and aggressively anti-Israel and pro-Islam”, declared Dr. Phyllis Chesler, prolific author, emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at CUNY and a foremost expert on gender and religious apartheid in the Muslim world.

“Pro-Israel students are verbally humiliated and physically attacked. Professors in Middle East Studies teach students only one point of view — the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel point of view”, she said, adding that “this has been the case at York University, Concordia University and the University of California at San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Berkeley and Irvine.”

On apartheid in the Middle East, Dr. Chesler said, “Israel is not an apartheid nation. Islam is the world’s largest practitioner of both religious and gender apartheid. Muslims have persecuted, murdered, and forcibly converted the entire Middle East, India, parts of Africa, Asia and now Europe.”

Dr. Chesler outlined her work on the phenomenon of “honor killings” of Muslim women throughout the world that was published in 2009 and 2010 in the Middle East Quarterly. “Islamic gender apartheid is a human rights violation and cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism, tolerance, anti-racism, diversity or political correctness” .

“We are facing two jihads”, said Dr. Gil Troy, professor of history at McGill University in Montreal and author of the book, “Why I am A Zionist.”

“As we’ve discussed today, there is the jihad on campus and a jihad in the classroom, in our textbooks and emanating from our professors,” he said. Exhorting students and parents to become more involved in the sphere of academia, Professor Troy said, “We are living in a golden age for Jews on campus, but we must raise the standards of teaching and rescue academia from corrupt academics and fight educational malpractice.”

Attacking multiculturalism, Salim Mansur, professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario said, “The right of Israel to remain a safe and secure state must be defended against the ideology of multiculturalists”, adding that “multiculturalism is a big, odious, disgusting lie. China, Japan and the Arab nations are not practicing multiculturalism so why are we?”

Dr. Catherine Chatterley of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism spoke of the historical basis of Israeli Apartheid Week saying, “The ideology behind Israeli Apartheid Week is not a new one. The former Soviet Union was a leading proponent of this anti-Zionist philosophy. This was the ideology that declared that Zionism is tantamount to imperialism, racism, discrimination and organically linked to the repression of the human being.”

“The concept is part of a global, political strategy to dismantle the Jewish state. The week began as a Canadian invention and now takes place in over 55 cities worldwide. She added that the organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week are making concerted efforts to build alliances with the disenfranchised in general, thus furthering their anti-Zionist distortions.

Impetus for founding ACL came from Canadian professionals, including Lorne Saltman, an attorney with the firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell, LLP, Stephen Posen of Minden Gross, LLP, and Robert Grant of FusionPro UK.  Jonathan Kay, a managing editor at Canada’s National Post newspaper and a columnist on the newspaper’s op-ed page, acted as forum moderator.

(IsraelNationalNews.com)

NYT Discussion: Mubarak’s Role and Mideast Peace: Anxiety and Skepticism

Mubarak’s Role and Mideast Peace

What does the crisis in Egypt mean for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?

Mubarak’s Role and Mideast Peace

Introduction

Netanyahu and MubarakReuters Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, left, and President Hosni Mubarak at a meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on Jan. 6.

The uprising in Egypt has created turmoil for Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who have their own complicated relationships with the Mubarak regime.

For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Hosni Mubarak has been his strongest ally in the region. At the same time, Mr. Mubarak has been a firm ally of the Palestinian Authority and a staunch supporter of the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Egypt has also tried to broker reconciliation talks (so far, unsuccessfully) between Fatah, the party governing the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza.

What does the crisis in Egypt mean for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations? How crucial is Mr. Mubarak to dialogue between Israel and its neighbors? Will change in the Egyptian regime make progress in Mideast peace talks even less likely?

Read the Discussion »

Anxiety and Skepticism

By Gil Troy, New York Times, 2-1-11

Gil Troy is professor of history at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem.

Egypt’s uprising has already undermined most Israelis’ sense of security and their willingness to take risks for peace with the Palestinians. Israelis now worry about the biggest risk they ever took for peace: the withdrawal from Sinai in 1982.

Many Israelis wish they could support this popular move against Mubarak, but bitter experience has taught them to be skeptical.

A radical Egypt downgrading or abrogating its peace treaty with Israel would top the litany of failed peace-making attempts and reinforce the argument of right-wing skeptics against trading land for peace with the Palestinians. Moreover, a hostile Egypt would reinforce the sense of betrayal so many Israelis have felt since 2000, as the failure of the Oslo peace process triggered a wave of Palestinian terror, the withdrawal from Lebanon boosted Hezbollah, and disengagement from Gaza brought Hamas to power.

Israelis have longed for greater intimacy with the Egyptian people, always speaking of “peace with Egypt” not with Mubarak. Yet this “cold peace” has been government to government not people to people. Israelis have accepted the limits, given their alternatives.

Mubarak’s Egypt has served as an important counterweight to Ahmadinejad’s Iran. The recent Wikileaks documents suggested some of the benefits Israel enjoyed from its alliance with Mubarak, including diplomatic support, intelligence sharing and military cooperation. Most important have been decades of non-belligerency. With the loss of that sense of security on its southern border, Israelis will be much more reluctant to cede control of their eastern border to an independent Palestine.

This week’s hysterical headlines in the Israeli press about the potential loss of Egypt, the dip in Tel Aviv stocks, the debate about whether President Obama can be trusted to support American allies, all suggest that Israel’s strategic doctrine is being hastily rewritten.

The prospects of peace become even more unlikely if Egypt turns Islamist. Israel’s safest border will suddenly look menacing. Hamas will look stronger in Gaza with an Islamist Egyptian regime not even pretending to try to stop the flow of arms. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will look like a less viable peace partner with fundamentalism ascendant, and any pro-peace or pro-Western Palestinians demonized as collaborators. Moreover, Israeli policymakers will feel caught, doubting Mahmoud Abbas as another unelected autocrat while fearing the popular Palestinian street more than ever.

Israelis find themselves once again in dissonance with the international community. Many Israelis wish they could wholeheartedly support this popular move against an aging dictator. But the bitter experience of the last ten years suggests that skepticism is in order.

Gil Troy Quoted in “Suspected Israeli Neo-Nazi Arrested After Extradition”

Source: AOL, 1-4-11

A non-Jewish Israeli immigrant from Russia suspected of leading a neo-Nazi youth gang was arrested here after he was extradited from Kyrgystan to Israel.

Israeli officials say Dmitri Bogotich, 24, headed a gang that assaulted the homeless, foreign workers, drug addicts and religious Jews. Eight members of the gang, between the ages of 17 and 20, were sent to prison for sentences ranging from one year to seven years for the assaults.

The gang filmed both their assaults and themselves giving a Nazi salute, posting the clips on YouTube and a neo-Nazi website called Format 18. In one incident, members of the group attacked a drug addict in Tel Aviv, forced him to get on his knees and beg for forgiveness. In another incident, they broke a beer bottle over the head of a foreign worker.

Dmitri Bogotich is a violent gang leader with neo-Nazi ideologies.

Oded Balilty, AP
Israeli Dmitri Bogotich, 24, pauses during a court session Tuesday in the town of Ramleh after he entered Israel following deportation from Kyrgyzstan. Israeli police say he is a violent gang leader with neo-Nazi sympathies.

Bogotich fled to Russia in 2007, after police first questioned him in connection to the case. A few weeks ago, officials of Interpol arrested him after he arrived at the airport near the capital of Kyrgystan. Israeli police detectives accompanied him on his flight back to Israel.

An Israeli police spokesman said he was taken directly to police headquarters, handcuffed and with shackles on his legs. The spokesman said he cooperated with investigators and confessed to some of the allegations against him. He admitted to being a member of the gang but not its leader.

“He’s a young guy who’s freaked out about his arrest,” said Yashar Yaakobi, his lawyer from the public defender’s office. “He claims he was young and bored and got caught up with the wrong people.”

Yaakobi also said that Bogotich apologized to investigators and said that he did not have any genuine admiration for Hitler and that he got involved because he was bored.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AOL News that Bogotich is lying.

“He can say whatever he wants, but we know who he is and exactly what he did,” he said. “We invested a lot of resources since he fled the country, and we succeeded in getting him back.”

Police officials said the arrest showed that the Israeli police can function effectively.

“The Israeli police will reach anywhere in the world in order to nab the criminals,” Central District police commander Bentzi Sau said. “The citizens have someone they can count on, and the criminals have something to fear.”

The pictures of Bogotich and the other members of the group giving the Nazi salute were broadcast on Israeli television when the members of the gang were first arrested. They raised questions about how a neo-Nazi group could flourish in Israel. Rosenfeld told AOL News that there is no neo-Nazi movement in Israel.

“There are only individuals, and as soon as we find out about them, we do whatever we need to stop them,” he said.

Some Israeli analysts say they fear that the news of Bogotich’s arrest could encourage negative sentiments against Russian immigrants here. More than 1 million Russian-speaking immigrants moved to Israel in the 1990s. According to Israeli law, anyone with one Jewish grandparent is eligible for Israeli citizenship.

“There is a notion that the Russians are pagans who came here to exploit the goodness of the state,” Gil Troy, a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, told AOL News. “This arrest could feed into those feelings.”

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.



Gil Troy Quoted in “Maple Leaf Madness – Chabad Confronts Anti-Israel Activism on Canada’s College Campuses”

Lubavitch.com, 11-15-2010

Dr. Gil Troy, a history professor at McGill University in Montreal and author of Why I am a Zionist told Lubavitch.com that a lot is riding on the countersteps to the toxic propgaganda. “At university campuses in Canada and in the U.S., many future leaders are being educated in poisoned environments, where Israel is portrayed as the bad guy.”

Chabad’s response is less about shouting down and in-your-face protests than about teaching students to connect with their own heritage, and understand the Jewish claim to the land….

Prof. Troy promotes advocacy in his literature, but he also values Chabad’s approach. “Studies show that if you have a strong connection to Judaism, you will have a strong connection to Israel.” Chabad, he explains, “creates a spiritual conversation and a cultural conversation, getting the issue away from politics,” which helps achieve the ultimate goal: supporting the Jewish homeland.

“You can’t do Jewish without embracing Israel.”

Nominate Gil Troy @GilTroy for JTA’s Twitter

JTA’s update of their list of most influential Jewish Twitter users for 2010: http://salsa.jta.org/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=4442

JTA is updating its list of most influential Jewish Twitter users for 2010. This year’s process begins with a new feature: open nominations of other Twitter users. Want to share your nominee choice via Twitter? Use hashtag #jta100 Limit ONE nominee per person per category (individual and/or organization). Deadline for nominations is Friday November 19, 2010 at 2:00PM EST. All nominees must follow @jtanews and @talk2jta. Winners will be selected by JTA staff.

Professor Gil Troy at Hadassah Convention: ‘Never Give Up on Israel!’

Sunday, July 25, 2010 Hadassah Convention Daily(pdf)

History professor Gil Troy brought a clear message to Hadassah delegates on Sunday: “Never give up on Israel!”

Noting that can be difficult to be a Zionist in America, Troy, a professor at McGill University and former Young Judaean, dealt with some tough issues in a forum, “I Love Israel, But…”

“If we don’t carve out safe spaces to ask the hard questions, then things will just fester,” said Troy at the session with Judy Shereck, chair, IZAIA Department and Jewish Education Department, and Shelley Sherman, coordinator, Young Judaea Division, presiding. “You are free to criticize but don’t delegitimize.”

Some of the questions explored by Troy and the audience included: Why does Jewish peoplehood matter? Why do Jews need a state? How should the Jewish state exercise power? How can a Jewish state also be democratic? What can a Jewish state offer the world?

Over and over, Troy stressed that a Jewish connection to Israel shouldn’t be conditional.“We need to sing a new song of Zion,” Troy said.

Don’t make the mistake of washing your hands of Israel when hearing a negative report, Troy said. “We need to normalize Israel. We want a Zionism that is struggling, dreaming about values, and dreaming about what we can give to the world.’

Troy stressed the importance of having a “big tent identity Zionism,” where many different forms of Zionism coexist and unite on key ideas but express themselves in different ways. “How lucky we are to have the State of Israel, which can harness our idealism and give us an opportunity to express our altruism,” he said.

“Sovereignty is all about taking the peoplehood idea and making it real and building something from it.”

“Jewish Soul Renewal – Renew Our Days as of Old” Hosted by Gil Troy

Jewish Soul Renewal – Renew Our Days as of Old (Jewish Partnership Online), 12-30-09

http://www.jewishagency.org
Jewish Partnership Online, the Partnership 2000 eZine hosted by Professor Gil Troy, highlights Jewish values in the Partnership setting. This week’s edition focuses on the value of “Jewish Soul Renewal” through the activity of the Tzahar – Palm Beach Partnership, with a special focus on the Kaballah project in the Mystical City of Safed, combining spiritual growth with tourism development.

Shared Responsiblity Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazeh Hosted By Gil Troy

Shared Responsiblity Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazeh (Jewish Partnership Online)

This week’s edition focuses on the Modiin – Rochester Partnership’s ” Friends Across the Sea” project, where Modiin 5th graders learn to identify with their Rochester peers.