Three comments on Israel Education in the wake of the Kotel Affair

July 3, 2017

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Three thoughts about the way in which the compromise agreement over mixed-prayer at the Kotel was “frozen” by Prime Minister Netanyahu, thus infuriating the Jewish world:

1.

For all its pain, the Kotel furore is good for Israel Education. It finally puts paid to the idea that one can teach Israel without touching on the politics that animate this place. No longer can Israel engagers maintain that we can engage with Israel as an embodiment of our religious convictions, without addressing the politics that drive this particular embodiment. Educators’ celebration of “shared values” must now incorporate issues where our values are not necessarily shared.

All this is a good thing. Since Zionism was about the Jews assuming power, it was always odd that we bypassed the mechanisms and the energies that related to the use of that power.

We can now all embrace the invigorating challenge of educating about the politics of Israel without turning them into an all-encompassing obsession…

2.

Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit offers a useful way of looking at the compromises that were made in the process of coming up with the Kotel agreement, and what compromises PM Netanyahu made in choosing to freeze its implementation. In his book, On Compromise and Rotten Compromises, Margalit assesses when a compromise must be rejected, and when it should be accepted albeit while holding one’s nose. It is worth taking a look at the past few weeks in the light of Shady, Shoddy, and Shabby deals.

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3.

Finally, Margalit also points to what might be at the heart of the impassioned response to Netanyahu’s move: What constitutes decent behavior. While Israeli politicians such as Naftali Bennet point out that the current situation is not catastrophic for the progressive cause, since the platform at Robinson’s Arch will remain and even grow in size, Diaspora leadership will point not only to the result but to the process.

After having negotiated in good faith over the future of the Kotel, and after having agreed to a compromise – for this compromise to be summarily dumped is not only a poor result, it is poor behavior. In another of Margalit’s greats, he explores what he means by a Decent Society. A decent society is one in which its institutions do not humiliate its citizens. By extension we might say that a decent relationship between Israel and the Diaspora would be one that does not humiliate one side of the supposed-partnership.

[You might also be interested in the materials we created here about the Kotel a couple of years ago. The background is still highly relevant.]

President Trump versus the Balfour Declaration?

May 21, 2017

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Coming on for 100 years ago, The Balfour Declaration stated that the area of Palestine should be the “national homeland” of the Jews.

The Zionist movement of a century ago did not need the British to tell them that our national homeland was situated in the area known as Palestine. The Balfour Declaration is celebrated to this day because a world power had publicly acknowledged this connection. Jews knowing that the Land of Israel was ours, allowed us to dream. But when a superpower let everyone know the Land of Israel was ours, it allowed us to plan.

Recently this tension between what the Jewish People knows as the Land of Israel, and what the world recognises as the State of Israel, has come to the fore in extraordinary fashion.

President Trump became the first American president to visit the Kotel, the Western Wall. But in so doing President Trump’s  advance staff pointed out an inconvenient truth: The Kotel is on the “other” side of the Green Line. As such, it is not within Israel’s internationally recognized borders.

While every Jew would remind us that Jerusalem, and the area of the ancient Temple in particular, is at the beating heart of the Biblical Land of Israel, the President of the United States reminded us that it is outside the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel.

Bearing in mind that in the Balfour Declaration we celebrate the international recognition for what we Jews have always known, how should we engage with this current rejection of Israeli sovereignty over Zion itself?

50 Years – the photos activity

 

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כאן אפשר למצוא פרטים על מערך התמונות:

מערך תמונות שנת יובל ירושלים

ירושלים – נספח למנחה

And here is the same activity explained in English:

Jerusalem at 50 – the postcard session

Jerusalem at 50  – Leader’s guide to the images

Podcast – Imagine Israel – Jerusalem in the Emergency Wards

 

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Tune in to The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Imagine Israel Podcast, as part of Federation’s Imagine Israel initiative.

With every episode, meet innovative Israeli influencers addressing social and economic challenges in Israel. Robbie Gringras, Creative Director of Makom, hosts Federation’s Imagine Israel Podcast,  facilitating thought-provoking dialogues with innovative Israelis to hear their story and learn how their life, work and passions intersect in a unique way to make a noticeable impact on Israeli society. focused on the intersection of their lives, work, passions and Israeli society.

Imagine Israel Podcast series connects Washington listeners directly to Israeli innovators, providing an opportunity to learn how Israeli activists are addressing social issues including disability inclusion, shared Jewish-Arab society, pluralism, LGBTQ community in Israel and more. The podcast will feature a breadth of thought leaders from DC and Israel, working in a wide variety of fields including filmmakers, NGO directors and CEOs, humanitarian aid workers and others.

 

Marking the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, we speak with medics working at Jerusalem’s emergency clinics, living and working a precious and delicate co-existence.

 

Kaynan Rabino is the brain behind Good Deeds Day, an annual day of service that has flourished into an international phenomenon, currently reaching 75 countries—including the Greater Washington’s own Sara & Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Day. Rabino explains why the simple objective to change the world and positively impact the lives of others has garnered such a following, one good deed at a time.

 

Avner Stepak, former CEO of the second largest investment house in Israel, is revolutionizing Israel’s corporate world to include the previously overlooked disabled population in Israel’s workforce.

From the vantage point of the top floor at one of the largest investment firms in Israel, Avner Stepak (former CEO of Meitav Dash) saw his company was lacking a crucial component for success: inclusivity. Stepak recognized the value in the underemployed disabled population in Israel and he began to oversee the recruitment and hiring process for his investment house, reframing the company culture to welcome employees with disabilities.

After transforming his own investment house, Stepak set his sights on a new venture and in 2016—through a program of the Joint Distribution Committee, Israel’s Ministry of the Economy and the Ruderman Family Foundation—Stepak established Incorporate Israel. Incorporate Israel helps Israelis with disabilities join the corporate world by working closely with top staff at some of Israel’s biggest companies to fight against prevalent stigmas and raising awareness.

 

Visionary activist Chaya Gilboa, an expert on the issue of Israeli religious reform, shares her desire for social change in Israel. In a country where politics are religious and religion is political, Chaya strives to transform Israel’s restrictive religious judicial system by challenging institutionalized law to create a pluralistic, egalitarian alternative.

The compelling conversation addresses the conflicts and complexities that come with the current Rabbinical (Jewish governance) jurisdiction over issues of marriage, divorce and kashrut (Jewish dietary law); and Chaya’s approach to changing the system from outside of the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament).

Host Robbie Gringras interviews co-writer and director of the LGBTQ family drama “Ima v’ Abbas” (Mother and Fathers) about the intersection of his personal family dynamic in Israel (raising a child as a gay couple with a straight, single surrogate), his work, passions and Israeli society

The place of Place – activity exploring the Land of Israel

 

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This is an activity from the 4HQ curriculum, adapted for 2017, the 50th anniversary of the 6 Day War.

What is behind the connection of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel? And how does the Bible dictate or deviate from Israel’s current borders?

A crucial element in any learner’s ability to think about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. For learners aged 15 upwards.

To download the full activity, click here.

Working with “10 hours on a Palestinian tour bus”

 

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We have found that Liora Goldberg’s blog of her visit to Ramallah and Hebron is a useful text to work with young adult groups who may not identify themselves as “progressive”. In particular it may be useful to begin more in-depth discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among young adults who grew up within a community that rarely voices a critique of Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria/The West Bank.

Liora’s perspective on her experiences comes from her UK Bnei Akiva background, and from growing up in a committed Zionist and not necessarily progressive family. Her insights are careful, honest, and personal. As such, we would recommend seeing her narrative voice as one of the most interesting aspects of the blog – exploring not only the experiences she reports, but the way in which she reports them as well.

While you are welcome to share the link to the annotated version of her blog, with “hover-over” embedded questions, you may wish to arrange an in-person meeting.

A gathering of young adults might be best off first sharing the reading of the entire blog, one paragraph per person: This is a slightly shortened version for you to download and print out.

Then we would recommend splitting into smaller groups or pairs, to work through the four sheets of A3 for at least 45 minutes.

10 Hours on a Palestinian Tour - Makom Guide_Page_2

Click here to download the pdf for printing out prior to the meeting.

Finally, bring the small groups together so that they may share their insights and comments.

Here I Come – activity around HaDag Nachash’ song

 

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“This activity is recommended for learners who have visited Israel before.

 

Ask each participant to

Write down 10 words, ideas, or places that you associate with Jerusalem

and

Write down 10 words, ideas, or places that you associate with Tel Aviv

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My Promised Land, by Ari Shavit

 

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Me, We, and Generation Z – Global Jewish Forum VII

 

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The Seventh Global Jewish Forum of the Jewish Agency addressed the nature of Millenials and Israel Education:

Click here to download the pdf  

Inter-religious meetings – Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha

 

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What happens when a solemn Jewish Fast Day is marked on the same day, in the same neighborhood, as a celebratory Muslim festival?

Organizations such as the Abraham Fund hurry to spread knowledge and tolerance…

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