13 September 2010

How Bad Are Things between US Jews and Israel?

Former Temple Sholom President wrote me today asking if the facts contained in an appeal [appended below] from ARZA (the Association of Reform Zionists of America) were reasonably correct.  As I am happy to answer such questions, I asked Mark if I could post my answer here:

Dear Mark,

You can check out my blog (sholomrav.blogspot.com) for my comments as things were happening.

Is this piece accurate?  As accurate as you can expect in a fundraising appeal.

Could things be this bad?  I refer you to the debate in the Jerusalem Post between Rabbi Yoffie and the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel.  Personally, I do believe the Israelis take our support for granted and do not believe that any "religious" difference of opinion would lead to any disruption. They underestimate the damage of having Diaspora Jews not feel welcome in the Jewish homeland.

Will a $36 contribution from every Reform Jew solve the problem?  Honestly, not as  much as if everyone wrote a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu with a cc to their Federation exec.  But, then again, ARZA was the organization that set up an e-mail blitz to the PM's office this summer.

[OK with you if I post your question and this exchange to my blog?]

Hope this helps,


Since I responded to Mark's e-mail, an interesting article by Jonathan Sarna can be seen as a counter-argument.  (Although ARZA is also citing it on its front page.)

Union for Reform Judaism News Update

September 2010 | Tishrei 5771

"Our goal is shalom." – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, September 1, 2010
"The [Conversion] Bill could tear apart the Jewish People." – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The entire world is focused on peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and as supporters of Israel, we stand by her side in times of peacemaking just as in times of war. Yet just as Israel seeks peace with its neighbors, we need to seek peace between Israel and world Jewry.
Israeli leaders recently debated a conversion bill that would have delegitmized the majority of world Jewry. As issues of “Who is a Jew” and pluralism were debated in the Israeli Knesset, a broad based coalition of Jews from around the world, anchored by the Reform Movement, convinced Israel’s leaders to delay a vote on this controversial bill – but only until January 1, 2011.
We need your help now to ensure that this bill will be defeated once and for all -- to ensure that all Jews will be equal in Israel and that we will remain one people.
The Reform Israel Appeal supports our institutions in Israel – the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), which assure that the values we believe in are upheld. It is because our Movement is there, on the ground and integrated into Israeli society, that we have been successful in postponing this damaging legislation.
If every household affiliated with Reform Judaism contributes just $36 to the Reform Israel Appeal, we will have the funds to defend our rights, strengthen our Israeli institutions and guarantee that the overwhelming majority of world Jewry will not be delegitimized.
The shalom of the Jewish people is at stake. Please join us today in supporting an Israel of openness and tolerance! Your support can and will make a difference! Please use our safe, secure online site at urj.org/israel to make your meaningful contribution today.
Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous and meaningful New Year.

Rabbi Daniel R. Allen
Executive Director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA)

Reform Israel Appeal
633 THIRD AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10017-6778
(212) 650-4140 • FAX (212) 650-4149
Email: development@urj.org • Website: www.urj.org/israel 

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