I’ve been sharing quite a bit of analysis of Israel’s elections this week. What I haven’t been sharing are the notes in my inbox and the calls I’ve received from members of the pro-Israel Jewish community here in Boston.
Many of you are applauding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s victory; others are distressed by the direction Israel appears to be taking. Some of you express your deep commitment to respecting Israel’s democratic process and supporting the government formed by its results; others are struggling with the ways in which campaign events challenge our expectations and values.
Yesterday, I noticed a tweet by Reverend Dudley Rose, expressing sadness about the elections in Israel.
Many of you will remember Reverend Rose. He is the Associate Dean of Harvard Divinity School and Senior Minister at North Prospect Union UCC in Medford. Nahma Nadich, our Associate Director, traveled with him to Israel in 2012 on one of JCRC’s study tours for our partners in the Christian clergy.
Last summer, in the darkest days of the conflict in Gaza, he stood with me on the pulpit at Mishkan Tefilla in Newton before 1,000 members of our community. He expressed a powerful message of solidarity with Israel in her efforts to protect her citizens from terror and rockets.
Rev. Rose stood with us then and I wanted to honor his sadness, so I retweeted his comment. Here, with his permission, is his response:
I’ve been thinking of you over these last troubling days. On Facebook I noted how troubling it is that here in the US and in Israel the politics of fear are not only so prevalent but also so successful. It’s a path filled with peril I’m afraid for both countries and heading toward outcomes the right actually fears the most.
I think Amos Oz has it right when he says that the one state solution for Israel is ultimately untenable for Israel’s future. Something corresponding is at stake in the US in the right’s immigration venom.
Looking in the other direction, in the mainline Protestant denominations where the BDS movement is formidable, its adherents will be more adamant now, and resistance to them less effective. All of which is to say that holding fast to hope that God will encourage and guide us nonetheless, or as the black church says, faith that God and we will make a way out of no way. Enough for now, before I ramble ever more dramatic!
Anyway, I pray you will find reasons to be hopeful. I do find some comfort in what the Christian Bible Book of Hebrews calls a “great cloud of witnesses,” people like you whom I love and can stand together with.
Blessing and Shalom,
As we come to the end of this week I draw strength from this message and others like it.
We must find the strength within ourselves to make space for those amongst us who struggle with Israel even as they hold dear our shared hopes for her. We must hold ourselves to a standard of fairness as we voice our concerns and not allow ourselves to stoop to some of the ridiculous and biased criticisms of Israel that go well beyond those experienced by any other nation, including our own.
We all recognize – including those of us who celebrate the outcome of this election - that there are implications in the fight against the delegitimization of Israel, a fight from which we will never shy away.
This is why JCRC will continue to redouble our efforts to engage leaders in Boston with Israel. This summer, Nahma will lead our next delegation of ministers to Israel together with Rabbi Carl Perkins (Needham) and Reverend Dan Smith (Cambridge).
To struggle with Israel is not to despair for her future. Those of us who stood together with Israel in dark moments last summer will continue to stand by her side. We will be Dudley Rose’s ‘great cloud of witnesses’ in our commitment to our greatest aspiration for Israel: That she thrives as a safe and secure, Jewish, and democratic state.