International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists

The World Zionist Congress - It's complicated...

Another post from Rabbi Danny Burkeman UK delegate for Pro-Zion and Arzenu from his blog at

The World Zionist Congress - It's complicated...

This afternoon we had a really interesting discussion about the different ways in which our national Reform Zionist bodies responded to the flotilla incident. Different countries had felt the need to respond in different ways, with different agendas determining that response. I was very aware that my response to the flotilla (see the sermon below) was very much a response to the British national context. It was not about speaking to a Reform Jewish community, it was about addressing the issue for a Reform Jewish community against the backdrop of the British media's negative portrayal of Israel.

The difficulty which we face revolves around what we do when we don't agree 100% with the position, or approach, of the Government of Israel. Do we voice complete support publicly out of a sense of responsibility? Or are we comfortable to stand up and criticise?

I think it is important to always remember that our movement is the heir to the prophetic tradition. When we see injustive we have an obligation to speak out against it. But in the case of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the flotilla, the issue is far too complex to offer 100% support or to criticise.

For those of us who live in the Diaspora we have to recognise that our children are not drafted into the army, our families do not live in daily fear of Hamas rockets, and no world leader is calling for the destruction of the country in which we live. And therefore we can attempt to influence Israel, we can offer help and we can try to support her. But at the end of the day she has to pursue a just and safe path for her and her citizens - and when she falters, we have to be there to help pick her up.

I keep thinking about Herzl's words (appropriately as it is 150 years since his birth) 'Im tirtzu, ein zo agadah' - 'If you will it, it is no dream'. As Reform/Progressive/Liberal Zionists, we have a dream for the State of Israel - secure in its borders, at peace with her neighbours, a Jewish democratic state, and a country which serves as a shining light for the rest of the world. Our job is to help her citizens and Government to pursue that dream and vision.

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