Brian Lurie Takes Aim at Occupation

New Israel Fund Chief Admits Being 'Rebel' at Heart

Rebel With a Cause: Rabbi Brian Lurie says the New Israel Fund is anchored in Jewish values.
haaretz
Rebel With a Cause: Rabbi Brian Lurie says the New Israel Fund is anchored in Jewish values.

By Chemi Shalev (Haaretz)

Published August 04, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 5 of 8)

But most members of the Israeli Knesset probably agree with Im Tirtzu more than they agree with you.

“I know that. I sat with Benny Begin, who is a man of great principle, and I told him that we have to train a new generation of Likudniks that are democrats, - with a small ‘d.’ It’s desperately necessary. I don’t have to tell you that the vast majority of the people who live in Israel did not grow up in a democratic society. [The late Jerusalem Mayor] Teddy Kollek used to tell me - way before the olim came from the Soviet Union - ‘You know, democracy is not rooted in this country at all.’”

In the same vein, some people say that the NIF is more concerned with foreign workers in Tel Aviv than you are with the poor Jews who live in the same neighborhoods.

“We are concerned about them as human beings, that they should be treated fairly. But there’s also a Jewish concern. We’ve always been strangers, and the question is how we treat strangers in our own land. It’s not an easy situation, but some of the statements made by political leaders in Israel are, if not racist, then very negative. And if you substitute the word ‘Jew’ for ‘the outsider’ or ‘the foreigner’ - we would have called it anti-Semitism. The NIF has a track record of fighting poverty and caring for poor Israelis, so it’s not an either/or situation. We understand how one groups pits itself against the other in this situation, so you have to try and lower that and try to get some light in this area that has great darkness.”

And how are you going to contend with the fact that for many Israelis, the NIF has become some sort of symbol which is larger than the NIF itself? Sort of evil incarnate, Jews gone wrong?

“It’s sort of one at a time. I often meet with Misha [former Defense and Foreign Minister Moshe] Arens, who is an old friend. And he wants to talk to me about the Bedouin because he really cares about the Bedouin. So I say, ‘Well, I’d like to bring [NIF director] Rachel Liel and [NIF CEO] Daniel Sokatch along with me.’ But he says ‘I don’t want to meet them.’ So I said, ‘Okay, but why not?’ And he said: ‘Because they are NIF.’

“But when we met I asked him: ‘Who do you think is one of your great allies in trying to upgrade the situation of the Bedouin in the Negev? It’s the NIF. How can you not meet with them?’ So then he agreed to meet Liel for lunch, and they had a good meeting. He doesn’t have to agree with everything that we do, I understand that. But we have to begin one by one, talking to people to make them understand that the way we were portrayed in the public is not the way we are. We are rooted in Jewish values. We support Israeli democracy. We believe that democracy is Israel’s great strength in the Middle East - and that the recession in democracy that exists in Israel today is a threat to its very existence.”


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!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • 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.