"I know that there are those who have called you traitors for challenging Israeli policy ... As an American, I can only say this: If you are traitors, then Abraham Lincoln was a traitor…”
Peter Beinart at the NIF Symposium on June 28, 2010.
Two weeks ago, we had the privilege and pleasure of welcoming the New Israel Fund Board and International Council to Tel Aviv for NIF’s Board meeting. This was the first Board meeting in Israel for both of us in our new positions, and they came at a critical juncture not only for NIF, but for Israel itself, the US-Israel relationship and the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community. This context provided an opportunity for NIF and our family of organizations to host a series of events and activities that reminded all of us of why it is we fight so hard, every day, for the Israel we believe in.
There is much more about our Board meeting in this edition of NIF News, but we want to tell you a bit more about one of the most exciting events, a symposium entitled, “Israel: the Only Democracy in the Middle East?” Held in Jaffa, the symposium featured leading Israeli academics, activists and artists in dialogue about the current threats to democracy in Israel, and the need to protect the values of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. The highlight of the conference was the keynote speech delivered by Peter Beinart, the former editor of the New Republic, whose groundbreaking essay about the American-Jewish relationship to Israel, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” has become the Jewish story of the year. Beinart’s full-throated and impassioned defense of NIF, our values and our sector, inspired the overflow crowd of over 500 attendees, and served as a reminder of why, especially now, NItweF’s work is so important.
For a taste of that inspiration, you can watch the speech yourself. Finally, we leave you with what Beinart "tweeted" to his Twitter list last week: "Flying back from a trip to Israel sponsored by the amazing folks at New Israel Fund. If only they were the face that Israel showed the world." To that we can only say, Amen!
P.S. An important reminder – if you haven’t yet contacted Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop Knesset passage of the Rotem bill, please do it now! Religious pluralism in Israel is at grave risk, and North American Jews are speaking out with one voice. Make sure yours is heard.