Jewish support for initiatives addressing co-existence among all citizens of the State of Israel, both Jewish and Arab, has gone mainstream. Is this a good thing or not? Depends on whom you ask.
Last week’s unanimous endorsement of the cause by American Jewry’s largest religious movement, at the biennial conference in Toronto of the Union for Reform Judaism, was the latest sign that Jewish support for Israeli-Arab causes has become popular. But such support is not limited to Reform Jews.
Activists from secular to Orthodox have taken up this cause, though there is no doubt that the numbers skew in one direction – and it isn’t toward the traditional community. That disturbs me personally, but should not actually be an issue in the debate about the wisdom of this trend.
It seems to me that this is ultimately an issue about which those on the left and the right, both politically and religiously, ought to agree.
The full integration of all of Israel’s citizens is ultimately a security issue, so it should high on the agenda of the so-called hawks. And, it is a security issue which generates what many will consider to be a liberal social agenda, so it should remain high on the agenda of the so-called doves.
Democracies remain most durable when they serve the greatest number of their citizens with the greatest possible degree of equality, dignity and access to new opportunity. There are many reasons why some will not jump at the opportunity to apply this fact to Israel, and even I admit that in the case of a nation whose Jewish character I believe must be maintained, it will not always be easy to do. But there is no question that Israel’s future lies in continuing to be at the leading edge of democracy and human rights in the Middle East, not at the expense of its security, but as a means of helping to assure it.