American Jews Should Get Under the Tent

Being Pro-Israel Means Fighting for a More Just Jewish State

Real Support: Backing Israel should mean supporting the protests that aim to make the Jewish state a better place for all.
getty images
Real Support: Backing Israel should mean supporting the protests that aim to make the Jewish state a better place for all.

By Aliza Becker

Published June 22, 2012, issue of June 29, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

This nearly unanimous level of concern for the state of Israel’s social contract represents a major shift. What is at stake at this moment is nothing less than the promise enshrined in the state’s declaration of independence, “freedom, justice, and peace as envisioned by the prophets of Israel.” What is at stake is the future of real Israelis.

Security is not only about outside threats. The slogan “There is no personal security without social security” reminds us that unless basic welfare, education and health needs of a people are met, mistrust, self-interest and despair poison communal life.

Israel is a deeply divided society in which subgroups often blame the other for their suffering, without regard to the fact that the other is often a fellow Jew. “[W]hen the prevailing ambience,” writes the author David Grossman, “is that of ‘grab what you can,’ you cannot help but disparage the other and rob each other blind.”

An open discussion of shared problems encourages Israelis to listen to and have empathy for one another. There has been a dramatic decrease in reported incidences of racism committed by Jew against Arab within Israel proper over the past year, a change that some attribute directly to the tent protest movement. Surely this is a good thing.

Social justice is a cornerstone of Jewish culture and theology. Whether one is “right” or “left” on the Israeli and American Jewish political spectrum has long been defined by one’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and national security issues, and not by the traditional measures of income distribution and social equality.

Protest leader Stav Shaffir argues that Israelis, too, have been focused elsewhere “while ignoring the crimes that were taking place in our own neighborhoods, diminishing social services and social mobility, and the growth of segregation leading to great poverty and suffering.” To ignore the widow, orphan and stranger is simply not a long-term moral option for the Jewish state.

The development of intergroup solidarity encouraged by the tent movement provides the leverage needed to tackle a wide range of Israel’s problems, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Achievement of a resolution of the conflict will take more than just support from outside Israel; a broad swath of Israeli society must back the government to take the bold steps necessary for peace.

True peoplehood is built on hope, vision and genuine connection between human beings. The Israeli tent protest movement has brought genuine hope to the table. To borrow the words of Haifa Arab activist Raja Zaatry: “In this struggle there is room for everybody. In this struggle there is hope for everybody. This struggle is everyone’s.”

Aliza Becker is the director of Friends of the Israeli Social Movement.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.