“Teach your children well…feed them on your dreams…”
These familiar lyrics flowed through my mind when my 26 year old son, Josh, presented me with the following statement: “Dad, I can no longer relate to Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. It’s time for me to move on and focus on other causes.”
Not that he would forget Israel, he went on, but much like the break-up of a long term relationship, he would cherish the memories but wasn’t sure he could remain friends.
What?!? Hebrew School, summer camp, a gap year in Israel, a legacy of three generations devoted to the creation of and later to the growth of a Jewish State, and it had come to this? Had our frequent dinner conversations about Israel’s conflicted needs for security and a just and democratic state been misconstrued? Had our discussions and recognition of the pain of occupation not prepared him to respond to the challenges he found on campus and, worse, pushed him to disconnect or simply loose interest, feeling that there is no solution? I had to do something. I needed to call in reinforcements. I did not know how to speak to my son.
As a member of Ameinu I knew I could (and should) call the Ameinu office in New York I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. But as soon as I heard “Ameinu Shalom” on the other end I felt reassured. I had called home. That 25 minute conversation was the first step towards finding my own voice and developing the sensitivity to speak to my son so that he could find his. This was the start of an open dialogue between us that continues almost a year later. I figured that as long as we were talking about it, he was engaged and not lost.
Ameinu pointed me to several valuable tools available through the organization. Among them we talked about a series of articles published in the Ameinu E-Newsletter that highlight the strides Israeli grassroots organizations, Ameinu’s strategic partners, were taking to help correct some of the injustices and inequalities that my son has rightfully found troubling.
As a member of Ameinu, I had received the articles and could now go back and share them with my son.
I’ve come to realize that Ameinu is the only organization capable of taking on the formidable task of speaking to both sides of the argument that divides the Jewish community. Ameinu challenges the Greater Land of Israel supporters on the right to revisit their view that the occupation is necessary and good for Israel. And at the same time, it engages those on the far left who are attacking Israel because of that same occupation.
To inform opinion on the right, Ameinu has distributed hundreds of copies of the Academy Award nominated Israeli documentary “The Gatekeepers” to Jewish community leaders, rabbis and professionals, inviting them to view the film and to share it with others. The film presents every living past head of the Shin Bet (Israel’s security service responsible for the West Bank) and shows how damaging the occupation is for Israel.
Because of Ameinu’s forthright stand in bringing this film to the forefront, my son was prepared to hear Ameinu’s answers to the accusations against Israel from the far left.
Josh and I sat down with Ameinu’s recent publication The Third Narrative: Progressive Answers to the Far Left’s Critiques of Israel. Together, we read cogent responses to the relentless barrage of accusations against Israel on the web, on campus and in print.
Together, we found compelling responses to some of the most common and inaccurate accusations made against Israel, including attempts to portray the entire Zionist enterprise as a racist immoral land grab, calls for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and labels Israel as an apartheid state. All under the guise of defending human rights, essential rights that we all champion.
Now we are both card carrying members of Ameinu, he as a student and I, having upgraded my membership, am now a sustaining member.
And as a member, let me remind you again of how important membership is—yours, mine and Josh’s.
It is what supports Ameinu’s daily activities. It is the strength of its membership that allows Ameinu to speak effectively to power centers in Washington DC, in Jewish communities across North America and in Jerusalem.
Ameinu continues to represent the ideals of the Israel we dream of and work for.
P.S. The conversation between my son and I continues and just last week Josh agreed to join me on the next Ameinu Journey to Israel later this year. We hope to see you on the bus.
As a member of Ameinu you can subscribe to the E-newsletter for the latest updates on the news along with insightful background available nowhere else.
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Join now as a Sustaining Member and Ameinu will send you a copy of The Third Narrative for you to read and share.
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