About this Blog
I am an American with a long and deep attachment to Israel. I came of age soon after the establishment of the State in 1948 and grew up in a religiously observant family that believed strongly in the necessity of a Jewish homeland. For the last 15 years of my professional life, I directed large Jewish educational programs that served thousands in the American Jewish community. Since 2007, I have split my time between Tel Aviv and Boston, spending about half the year in each place.
I came to writing this blog out of concern for where Israel is heading. Extreme right-wing ideologies have taken hold of the country and become hugely influential. In recent years there have been ongoing, concerted attacks lodged against the fundamental democratic values and basic principles upon which the State was founded. If they succeed – and there is a serious danger that they will – it will make the country unrecognizable in the not-too-distant future.
News-wise, much of this is happening under the radar. It is seldom covered in the mainstream press, especially in the Jewish press outside Israel. Though that media frequently covers certain topics in great detail – Iran, the Arab spring – there is often scant attention to the erosion of Israel’s democratic underpinnings. Yet these shifts in Israel’s politics and character will have major impacts on the society for years to come.
The good news is that there is an active network of human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), mostly staffed by professional researchers and attorneys, who work to produce volumes of research reports, videos and testimonies about what has been happening here. My goal is to distill much of this information into a form that is accessible to the average reader who is too busy to read 50 or 70 page reports.
I also will be the eyes and ears of you, the reader, as I travel throughout Israel and the West Bank, providing first-hand accounts of what I encounter. And I will supplement what I see and hear with press reports from reputable sources or will sometimes link to opinion pieces that I think are particularly insightful.
Above all, I will strive to write with integrity and accuracy, and present the facts as best as they can be determined. I’ll try to keep my own feelings and opinions to a minimum. I would rather let readers make up their minds for themselves about the situations and developments I describe, based on the material presented.
And although much of what I write about may be troubling, I will also strive to write about the positive aspects of Israeli society. This is a vibrant culture where people engage intensely and where a sense of an underlying collective still prevails. I will be covering that as well.
After reading this blog, I hope readers will want to support and defend the human rights NGOs whose work I will be drawing upon and who are playing such a critically important role. I also hope readers will communicate with their elected officials and Jewish community leaders to help them understand that there is a range of views about Israel among American Jews – that it is okay to be critical of the government but still strongly support the country – and that there is enormous complexity and nuance to the situation here.
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