The Gaza Conflict – Questions after the Cease-fire

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Now that the ceasefire has gone into effect, Israel educators around the world have much work to do. As tends to happen in the Jewish world, when the fighting is over, the questions begin.

It was important for us to create educational materials relating to the recent conflict with Gaza. At the same time, we were aware that many educational and governmental organizations have already created materials about the fighting. We saw that the “Israel advocacy” work is being admirably covered by others.

At Makom we see our role as slightly different.

Instead of thinking about what our leaders need to be saying to non-Jews, we try to imagine how our leaders ought to be listening to their Jewish constituents: older teens and young adults.

Much research suggests that the vast majority of young adults in the Western world live what Zygmunt Bauman calls a “liquid life” – commitments are short and rarely inherited, communities are interchangeable, as are moral values. That is – they live in a world very different from the one in which most of our leaders grew up.

We don’t believe it is enough for leaders, or for learned columnist Rabbis, to expect that what worked for one generation will work for the next.

What burning or troubling questions are going unanswered and unexplored?

What are the unasked or unarticulated questions that lie at the heart of the relationship between a Jew and Israel?

We refer to these questions as the Elephants in the Room, and our video points to three in particular.

We believe that in the world of adult learning there is no such thing as ignoring the question of the learner. The work is in trying to find the deeper question underlying the learner’s unease, and giving the learner deep ways to explore it.

If we ignore the learner’s questions, they will not go away (though the learner might!): they will just be answered in a thinner way. Our job as adult educators is to embrace the tough questions that are important to the learner, and address them in a multi-vocal, nuanced, and Jewish way.

Do we pinpoint the correct questions? Are there more questions to tackle? We’d love to hear your opinion. 

Digging Deeper

Is it worth it? Program for adults and teens


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Before even beginning to talk about Israel, it’s worth checking some basic assumptions.

Here is an easy one.

If someone put a gun to your head and told you to hand over your iPhone or they’d shoot, we’re guessing you would rush to say goodbye to instagram.

We reckon you might not even put up a fight to save your car, if the fight meant risking your life.

How about your house?

Is there anything, or anyone, for whom you would risk your life?

Or in Tom Petty’s words:

Well I know what’s right,
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down

Is there anything you “won’t back down” from?

It’s a question worth asking before condemning warfare out of hand:

Is there anything worth fighting for? To Full Post

How do I stand with Israel?


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This is a program that explores different expressions of solidarity with Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense. What was the language used? What are the underlying values of the different expressions? 

Work with this program to help participants develop an understanding of the nuance and fundamental ideas that lie behind public expressions of solidarity. 

Feel free to print out the pdf from here.



What makes the IDF moral?


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Morality and ethics in the times of war are complex at the best of times. But when a national army fights a non-identified combatants in civilian territory, the issues are even more involved. 

Here is an annotated edit of Professor Moshe Halbertal eloquently and concisely summing up the moral dilemmas facing the modern soldier. Immediately following it are guided questions and a study sheet on these issues.

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In order to download the study sheet for print out, click here.


For further reading:

The Laws of War 

International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings New York, 15 December 1997

International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism New York, 9 December 1999  

War and international humanitarian law 


The Funnies from the War


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The Israeli sense of humor, especially during war times, tends to be immediate and sharp. That Anglo-Saxon trope of “Too soon?” rarely concerns the Israeli. We’ve gathered some of our favorite memes, tweets, and statuses from Operation Pillar of Defense – adding translations and explanations. (It’s true, one should never explain a joke, but if we don’t explain, only Israelis would find it funny!)

We tried to leave out all the borderline racist, sexist, or divisively political ones… Enjoy!

Kipat Barzel is Hebrew for the Iron Dome missile defence system, which downed several Fajer rockets sent over from Gaza. If you’ve seen The Princess Bride, you’ll need no more information, and if you haven’t that’s outrageous…. To Full Post

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