We view connection to Israel as an integral part of a rich Jewish identity. We are dedicated to supporting Israel as a thriving Jewish and democratic state, a spiritual heartland and homeland for the Jewish people as well as a source of cultural, intellectual and religious inspiration. We celebrate Israel not only as the sacred center of our historical memory and yearning, but also as a vital contemporary reality. We marvel at Israel’s extraordinary achievements – from the very establishment of the State as a sovereign nation to its advances in technology, agriculture, medicine and science. We look to Israel as a bold and thriving nation, radiating possibility and hope.
We are committed to supporting Israel as it continues to work to live up to the Zionist credo enshrined in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State: a Jewish State based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel, one that ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex, guaranteeing freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture. This vision reflects the central longing of our people and animates our Israel engagement.
The ongoing conflict has brought great anguish to both Israelis and Palestinians. Too many lives have been lost – too many families shattered. We yearn for the day when a safe and secure State of Israel and an independent State of Palestine live side by side in peace. We see the two-state solution as essential to Israel’s future and the just and moral way to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. We are also committed to supporting an Israel living at peace not only with its neighbors, but also with itself. We are inspired by the many extraordinary Israeli activists and organizations fighting every day for human rights, women’s rights, minority rights, immigrant rights, gay rights, who work toward coexistence, freedom of religion, speech and expression, protection of the environment and a deepening of the rule of law. These are people who guard the prophetic flame, people who work tirelessly to actualize the enduring and compelling vision we so honor.
We are dedicated to fostering a community discourse on Israel that is honest, respectful and guided by core Jewish values. We believe that such conversation in the American Jewish community will only help realize a pluralistic, peaceful and just reality in Israel.
This is by no means an exhaustive list – rather a good place to start.
a. NEWS and OPINION
- www.haaretz.com – Israel’s leading daily newspaper and source of news and opinion. Subscribe for the English edition, online or on iPad – it’s worth it.
- http://www.jpost.com and http://www.timesofisrael.com – good sources of daily and breaking news.
- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/80518.Jeffrey_Goldberg/blog – Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog always has interesting and provocative reading.
- www.972mag.com – Blog site of Israeli journalists and activists writing and thinking about all the issues of the day. (Chosen as “Best of Israel” by Israel’s Channel 2.)
- http://peacenow.org/nosh.html – Excellent daily distillation of the most important news in Israel from all the major news outlets. Subscribe to receive daily updates.
- http://www.thedailybeast.com/openzion.html – A collection of sophisticated voices on Israel, Palestine and the Jewish future.
b. MUST WATCH
- Meirav Michaeli and Ruth Calderon’s opening remarks as new members of the Knesset: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF7CZFbwzsQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8nNpTf7tNo.
- And the new film everyone is talking about is The Gatekeepers – don’t miss it.
c. HISTORY and CONTEMPORARY REALITY
- Ari Shavit, My Promised Land
- Howard Sachar, A History of Israel from the Rise of Zion to Our Time
- Anita Shapira, Israel: A History
- Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999
- Itamar Rabinovich, The Lingering Conflict: Israel, the Arabs, and the Middle East 1948-2012 (a clear-eyed overview of the conflict and peace efforts, from Rabin’s ambassador to Washington)
- Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East
- Gershom Gorenberg, The Unmaking of Israel
- Michael Oren, Six Days of War
- Dan Senor and Saul Singer, Start-Up Nation
- Anat Helman, Young Tel Aviv: A Tale of Two Cities
d. MEMOIRS/ NOVELS/ LITERATURE
- Sayed Kashua, Second Person Singular
- Assaf Gavron, The Hilltop
- David Grossman, To the End of the Land
- Yehuda Amichai, Shirei Yerushalayim
- Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness
- Sari Nusseibeh, Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
- Etgar Keret – any and all of his short stories
- Meir Shalev, The Blue Mountain – like Garcia Marquez in the Galilee
Learn more about what Israelis are fighting for – from human and civil rights to LGBT and women’s equality to peace, pluralism and justice work of all sorts. Here’s an intro to some of Israel’s premier nonprofit and civil society organizations:
DEMOCRACY/ HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY:
- www.NIF.org – The New Israel Fund (NIF) works to strengthen Israel’s democracy and to promote freedom, justice and equality for all Israelis.
- http://womenofthewall.org.il/ – Women of the Wall are fighting for the social and legal recognition of women’s right to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah at the Western Wall.
- http://www.irac.org/ – IRAC is working to advance pluralism in Israeli society and to defend the freedoms of conscience, faith and religion.
- Elul (http://www.elul.org.il/default.asp?lang=en), Bina (http://bina.org.il/english), Shalom Hartman Institute (http://www.hartman.org.il) and Pardes (www.pardes.org.il) – these are a few of the outstanding centers in Israel working to strengthen Jewish identity through traditional Jewish text and tradition. And Project Zug (projectzug.org) is a learning program IKAR is involved in that brings American Jews and Israelis together to learn in hevruta (partnership) over Skype.
- Peace Now http://peacenow.org.il/eng/ – an important voice of Israeli public pressure for peace.
- Leket (http://leket.org.il/english/) Serving as the country’s National Food Bank and largest food rescue network, Leket Israel works to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity among the growing numbers of Israel’s poor.
- Yemin Orde (http://www.yeminorde.org) – a village in Northern Israel for at-risk youths, Hagar (http://www.hajar.org.il) a bilingual and multi-cultural school for Arab and Jewish children, and Hand in Hand (http://www.handinhandk12.org) – a center for Jewish and Arab education, are all excellent and inspiring organizations working toward coexistence and understanding.
We have many like-minded community partners and friends in Israel. Check out our dear friends at Zion and Nava Tehila in Jerusalem, as well as Beit Tefila Yisraeli in Tel Aviv. And listen to the Rabbi of Zion, Tamar Elad Appelbaum, speak at IKAR.
- Hatzalah (http://www.unitedhatzalah.org/) – a fully volunteer Emergency Medical Services organization that provides fast and free emergency medical first response throughout Israel – with a response time of under 3 minutes. And Magen David Adom (http://www.mdais.com/) – Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service.
IKAR’s Israel Trip
Check out photos from our community trip to Israel in July 2015.