Thank you for your coverage of author Gershom Gorenberg (”Unraveled from the jaws of victory,” April 27) who spoke about preserving Israel’s democracy on April 17 to a packed house at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle. I would like to add a few comments to the JTNews story about Gorenberg’s visit.
First of all, I was deeply touched that so much support from local congregations was visible at the event. Though primarily sponsored by J Street Seattle and Temple De Hirsch Sinai, additional co-sponsorship was provided by Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation and Temple B’nai Torah. Additional support was given by Congregation Beth Shalom and Temple Beth Am. I commend the rabbis, staff and members of each of these communities for their participation.
Second, I was delighted to find that the audience included a diverse representation of the political and denominational landscape. Why? Because Gorenberg asks us to challenge stereotypes and reject the either/or argument of “Israel can do no wrong” versus “Israel can do no right” that is simplistic, divisive, and only serves to promote a knee-jerk reaction to bury one’s Jewish head in the sand to “avoid conflict” about something “so complicated” and “so political.” I thought the final remark of the JTNews article was right on the mark:
“Instead he (Gorenberg) encourages people to learn to understand complexity and challenge themselves with cognitive dissonance.”
For me, it is only through cognitive dissonance (e.g., the simultaneous truth of “I love Israel” and “I don’t think Israel is living up to ethics of my Judaic foundation”) that I can begin to unbury my head and engage in sane dialogue on the subject of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Dialogue is not debate. Dialogue is engaging and empowering. It offers us a safe environment in which we can stop, listen, engage, reflect, and connect.
J Street provides me, as an American Jew, a way to engage nuance in a forward-thinking manner. For me, pro-Israel dialogue is that which is focused on a viable future for both Israelis and Palestinians. Protection of Israel’s security and preservation of Israel’s democracy are not mutually exclusive ends. It’s definitely time for more dialogue!