What drives Israelis to the center? Yossi Klein HaLevi VIDEO


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In his inspiring presentation at Makom’s Global Jewish Forum, Yossi Klein Halevi spoke about the Israeli rejection of two forms of forgetting. He suggests that there are those who forget that Israel has mortal enemies, and those who forget that Israel is an oppressor. The fact that our mortal enemies are also the victims of our oppression, suggests HaLevi, creates the paradox of the Israeli soul.

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How can we talk about Gaza with our students?


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1 Day Makom Workshop for Hillel Professionals

 Coming to your campus – first 30 workshops for free!

Available from 31st August 2014


The current conflict in Gaza has brought home two key understandings:

  1. The violent conflict with the Palestinians is going to be a recurring issue for campus in the coming years.
  2. Hillel professionals do not only need to be briefed as to how to engage in effective civil adversarial dialog – be it with friends or enemies of Israel: They need to be given the tools, understandings, and materials required for them to conduct deep honest dialogue with their own students about the meaning of the conflict to them as Jews.

Makom is touring a one-day workshop for Hillel professionals on how to talk with their diverse students about Israel in conflict.

The workshop is specifically aimed at Hillel professionals and para-professionals who are skilled at engagement and discussion facilitation, but who are not confident at Israel conversations.

The one-day workshop will give participants

  • A practical non-partisan technique for making personal sense of the headlines.
  • Space for their own particular opinions.
  • Easily graspable strategies to invite and navigate complicated conversations.
  • Online multi-media materials to draw upon.
  • An ongoing platform to share ideas and concerns.




Gaza Conflict – So many emotions

August 11, 2014 by

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So many emotions fill me right now.

On the television in my home on the kibbutz I see “experts”. A non-stop conversation is going on between Orientalists, experts in terror and counter terror, those who have done their doctorates on the Hamas, former generals, veteran journalists, former ambassadors (especially to the United States), political hacks, heads of regional councils, doctors from the various surgical units at the major hospitals. None of them talk about feelings as they are “experts” and “experts” talk about the pros and cons, the ifs and buts, the possibilities and the probabilities, the past and the future.

I want to talk about emotions. Here is  a list of emotions I have felt over the past day: hope, sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness, frustration, determination, despair (sorry, no happiness and joy on the list, but I am hoping to have a personal reason to add those next week).


I was so hopeful a few days ago. Hopeful that the 72 hour ceasefire would turn into a permanent ceasefire and would herald the beginning of a new era. Not lions and lambs lying down together yet, but perhaps a forward movement away from violence and towards some sort of political agreement. Naive of me? Probably, but it felt good to believe for a moment.


Even though it is so clear to me that we are not guilty of crimes against humanity (more about that later under both anger and frustration), it is awful to see the pictures of the death and destruction caused by our army in Gaza. I know, yes know, that the IDF is not guilty, but that does not mean that like many, many Israelis, I do not feel some level of guilt (but, as I said, more about that under anger and frustration).


I feel so sad when I read the weekend newspapers here. From the article on the young bride to be whose wedding dress will not be picked up from the store, to the Job like story of Batsheva Huppert whose grandson was injured this week (why saddened by his injury and not the other injured soldiers? Batsheva lost two brothers in the Six Day War, her older son in the Second Intifada, and still believes in the necessity to serve and take responsibility). I am saddened by all the funerals we have witnessed over the past weeks; all the stories, the twin brothers, girl friends from mid teens, marriages which will never happen, the only son – they go on and on. I am also saddened by the response to our situation abroad (but more about that under anger and frustration).


I am angry with the Hamas as they have worked out our weaknesses. They are firing from within the heart of the civilian population of Gaza. From near hospitals (near a Finnish journalist who might not last too long after outing the Hamas), schools, mosques, apartment buildings and hotels where foreign journalists have rooms (including an Indian journalist who by chance photographed Hamas terrorists preparing to launch a rocket from the hotel car park so that Israel can respond and possibly add to our problems by killing foreign journalists). I am angry because even though we now have a pamphlet the Hamas issues to its fighters suggesting to them that they operate within densely populated areas as it limits our response “because the Zionists are not happy to fire into populated areas”, we will still be found guilty by “Human Rights” organizations (forgive the quotation marks, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain objective towards these activist groups whose anger suffers from strange chants previously heard in other circles) who are horrified by dead children in Gaza (as we are too), but strangely less so by the bodies of Syrian and Iraqi children (unless they are being recycled and used in Gaza – photographically that is). I am angry because my life has been invaded by sirens, warnings and the need to be constantly aware of danger (I know this might want you to refer to the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, but please see my previous remark about my anger with the Hamas).


I am frustrated that my government seems to know how to use our army (and they are outside of any political argument) in the theater of war, but unable to negotiate for Peace. Our leaders have let us down in this crucial area. This does not excuse the criminal behaviour of the Hamas, but it frustrates me greatly that we do not have a leadership which sees and understands the need to negotiate 24/7 for Peace. Even if there is a question about partners, the Israeli government should be reaching out for Peace all the time. Not accepting every offer made, but constantly saying to our neighbors, “Come, make Peace with us.” Talking, even difficult conversations, are always preferable to fighting. Always. I am frustrated that some of my natural allies in the struggle for a progressive, liberal, democratic world, prefer to hang out with religious fundamentalists and political fascists as long as they are Arabs, and all this in the name of anti-colonialism. Come on, you should already know that your enemy’s enemy is not necessarily your friend. Are you being naive or have you become fundamentalists too?


Most of those of you who were coming to visit us have cancelled. Of course I understand why, you have good reason, but that does not make it feel less lonely. We are functioning economically at a level of 40%. This is better than being dead or injured, but it is still tough (thank you so much to the Packer family that still came here this week. Besides enjoying guiding you very much, you crazy family, I appreciate the fact that you were here this week).

Determination and Despair

I move back and forth between these two. On the one hand I am constantly reminded of the great local phrase which translated goes like this: “We got through Pharoah, we can get through this.” I however, also ask myself, will it ever end, will it ever get better? Are we destined to live by the sword? Are we ever going to know Peace? At times I feel really strong. At times I feel so weak.


Will it be good here in the end is not the question because it is good here, very good. It is also hard, very hard right now. It is also filled with pain for all of us who live in this region, for all of us. We want it to be good for all the people who live here, but we will not go away to make this happen (our going away, by the way, is not the key to making this happen). We will continue to try and not harm innocent people, but this largely in the hands of the Hamas. We will demand of our government to work as hard for Peace as they are asking our soldiers to fight in this war.

This is our home and even when it is tough at home, when our home is in danger, we do not walk away, we will not walk away.

The feelings remain. All of them.

Shabbat Shalom


Julian Resnick is the Secretary General of World Habonim-Dror

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Gaza conflict – a letter to Temple Adas Israel, Sag Harbor

August 11, 2014 by

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Dear Friends,

I remember when August would roll around in Sag Harbor, and our synagogue’s Rosh Chodesh group meeting would focus on Tisha B’av (the 9th day of the month of Av) – the holiday that animates the Hebrew month of Av.

I would always frame the conversation by saying how out of sync the Jewish calendar felt with the Gregorian one. August is the height of summer fun – the beaches and BBQs, summer evening dresses and dinner parties. And in the Jewish calendar cycle Tisha B’Av represents the low point of the Jewish year. We sit on low chairs, we fast – in collective mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temples, the loss of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, and so many other calamities that have befallen the Jewish people. For me, most years the sense of mourning feels forced.

This year, it felt real. We needed Tisha B’av, to give ritual expression to the collective pain that we are all feeling about the war with Hamas. To Full Post

Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel


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The Jewish tradition of saying a prayer for governments dates back to the second century, and the orthodox world has a standard prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel dating back to the establishment of the State.

What does this liturgy say? What other versions of this prayer have been created over the years? Which one most speaks to the inner prayers of you and your congregation?

We have prepared the different prayers, together with some guiding questions, on a ‘placemat’. Download, print out, and place around tables – coffee and cakes seem to be an attractive addition to the discussion…

At the end of the food and discussion, you might choose to set off on a process of writing your own congregation’s prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel, with the aim of reciting it together as a community.

Kobi Oz’ version of the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel:

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Gaza conflict – three thoughts about the fighting

August 10, 2014 by

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1. Good Guys, Bad tactics?

There was something of a meme that went around, asking the two key questions of Just War theory: Are we fighting the bad guys? and Are we fighting like good guys? I think I’ve realized that the first question is almost irrelevant, and often unhelpful.


It’s irrelevant because while I may be sure that Hamas are the bad guys, so Hamas thinks it is Israel who are the bad guys. It is unhelpful because since we both reckon we’re fighting the bad guys, we both tend to take the second question less seriously.  To Full Post

Hot Topic Question – The Tricycle Theatre, London

August 7, 2014

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tricycleOnly a few weeks before its opening, the UK Jewish Film Festival needs to find a new venue. The Tricycle Theatre, the Festival’s North-West London home, suddenly demanded the Festival disassociate itself from one of its minor funders: the Israeli Embassy. To Full Post

The complexities of Gaza – film guide to “Precious Life”


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In 2010 the Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar made a documentary about a Gazan family that brings their baby for a life-saving transplant in an Israeli hospital. The movie is built with great sensitivity and an eye for painful irony and complexity galore.

Here Dr Raz Somech explains the story behind the film, at the Montreal Film Festival.

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At one point the mother asserts that she would be happy if her child under treatment were to grow up to be a suicide bomber – to the horror of Eldar. As the full story unfolds, we learn of the difference between the mother’s pronouncements for fear of Hamas reprisals, and her true respect and affection for Israel and its doctors. If these struggles were not enough, during the treatment, their doctor is called up for reserve duty – fighting in Gaza. For a full synopsis, read here.

For a community or campus wishing to delve into the human heart of the complexities of Israel and Gaza’s desperate embrace, Precious Life is an excellent place to start.


We recommend providing free coffee at a nearby cafe after the screening, and putting these place-mats on each table. In this way discussion can be encouraged without being forced.

The guide was first created for the screening at JW3.

Click here for free print-out.

In order to obtain a copy of the film contact Bleiberg Entertainment

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz


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We should always strive to build bridges, further dialogue, engage in critical thinking, foster hope, open our hearts, and do all we can to perpetuate peace.

At this particular time though, given the rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity posing grave threats around the world, we should strive to show collective public leadership to support the state and people of Israel.

Activists at AIPAC’s 25th Saban Leadership Seminar


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The young activists at AIPAC’s 25th Saban Leadership Seminar did not send us a couple of ideas of what Jews in North America might do. They sent 72 ideas…

Mobilizing the Base
  1. Yom Yisrael: Students are encouraged to wear blue and white to support Israel. Pictures of students in blue and white with signs that say “I Stand with Israel” will be posted to social media.
  2. All State Israel Solidarity Day: Students will mobilize solidarity events on campuses across their state.
  3. Campus Solidarity Rallies: Featuring special speakers, community leaders and media.
  4. America Stands with Israel Day: Students will host a day in honor of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
  5. HBCU Solidarity Events: To celebrate the long-standing relationship between the African-American and Jewish communities in support of Israel.
  6. Safe Room Simulation: Students would display a model safe room at Hillel and use the red alert siren to educate students on the ongoing threat of Hamas to Israelis and Palestinians.
  7. Concert for Peace: Invite students to a musical event to demonstrate public solidarity with Israel.
  8. Solidarity with Israel Campaign: Using AIPAC NGauge, coordinate solidarity vigils on campuses across the country at the same time and share on social media.
  9. Solidarity Candlelight Vigil: Students will host candlelight vigils co-sponsored by various religious, political and cultural student organizations on campus.
  10. Wear & Share Campaign: Solidarity t-shirts with images or statements of support (i.e. image of Israeli flag with “I stand with Israel”).
  11. How Many Rockets Would You Tolerate?: Use balloons to demonstrate how many rockets are being fired from Gaza each day.
  12. IDF Care Packages: Preparing care packages for IDF soldiers as a demonstration of solidarity.
  13. Shelter Care Packages: Including teddy bears and board games for Israeli children.
  14. Flags of Freedom: Display of Israeli and American flags on the quad to show support and solidarity.
  15. Shop for Israel Night: At a local vendor with portion of proceeds going to benefit Israeli charity connected with conflict relief.
  16. Raise Funds for Friends of the IDF: From birthright returnees.
  17. Israel Solidarity Shabbat: At Hillel or Chabad.
  18. Help Build CUFI on Campus: Chapters.

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