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.”