August 5, 2016
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon
I spent two busy days this past week in the Colorado mountains visiting friends and talking about Israel and the American Jewish community’s relationship to it. I had the chance to listen to and talk with a variety of prominent American Jewish figures about just how we here in the United States now view Israel; among them were Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, the extraordinary Orthodox rabbi who more or less invented Jewish pluralism, and Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, head of CLAL; and then on the drive down from the mountains to the Denver Airport I participated in a rabbinic conference call with two outstanding Israeli figures, Rabbi Michael Marmur and Gershom Gorenberg, on very much the same subject.
The question that was addressed in public debate and in many private conversations and on the webinar, was just how we Jews here in America perceive Israel right now, and how much of what we actually think about Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians we can say publicly. As you know, generally speaking, Jews aren’t afraid of saying anything about anything in public, so this is a little bit of a surprising topic. But in view of the current situation in Israel and the West Bank, and the politics of the American Jewish world, this has become a significant flashpoint.