Blog  Finding my Connection to Israel

Finding my Connection to Israel

By Micah Symons, NFTY-PAR

Every time I have a chance to run a program or write a piece for NFTY, my mind immediately jumps to Israel. Not because I want all people to fully support Israel(I don’t always), nor tell people the simple stuff, like whether or not you should get fries on your falafel (which you definitely should).You’ll be surprised to know then when I think of Israel programming, I believe the most complex topic of all: , the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is crucial for engagement in all settings.

Meeting US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (Fourth from right) this summer while attending Alexander Muss High School in Israel.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, and can be difficult for one to summarize in a blog post. At the most basic level, the conflict consists  disagreements aboutterritorial control over the West Bank,  the status of East Jerusalem and the Old City, and security issues., and . In studying this conflict, one glaring issue arises: How is it possible for me to take action? Israel is halfway around the globe and is thus very difficult to directly work with. While we teach the conflict in our programs and at our events, a topic of this magnitude is not restricted to what we learn in NFTY. Israel can and should be grappled with outside of events so that we bolster our understanding of the Jewish State and  heighten our discussions in a programmatic setting. the more we engage with this issue, the more we can use our position as a Reform Jewish community to create change.

So, why study the conflict if we may never fully understand it, or live to see a resolution? As Reform Jews, we look to Israel as a homeland and a place where history, tradition, culture, and religion collide. Our values, like Tikkun Klal (Jewish unity), Tikkun Olam (Repairing the world), and Chinuch (Education) teach us how to treat our homeland. Tikkun Klal commands us to care for Jews across the globe, Tikkun Olam urges us to find a peaceful solution so that all can live in peace and happiness, and Chinuch encourages us to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and our Arab neighbors, in hopes of one day resolving it.  Ultimately, we study it because it is the homeland of the Jewish People and to disconnect from our homeland is to disconnect with our history. We study it because even if we don’t always agree with Israel, we must stay engaged to form the argument as to why it may be in the wrong. We study it because at some point, it has affected us, either personally or indirectly. We study it because in 1999, in my home city of Pittsburgh, our movement collectively acclaimed that “we are committed to a vision of the State of Israel that promotes full civil, human and religious rights for all its inhabitants and that strives for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors.” To ignore our movement’s commitments is to ignore the values of equality, humanity, and peace.

However, having these conversations alone is not enough, for words are nothing without action. This year’s NFTY Study Theme is “The Reform Jewish Voice in Action.” We must use our power as a Jewish movement, as youth, and as responsible American and global citizens to start a dialogue and create change. No matter where you identify on the Israeli political spectrum, if you are passionate and informed about the conflict, it is your duty to help others become informed, passionate, and involved as well.

These resources listed below allow you to get more involved, and live one of NFTY’s 13 Principles: Nilmad V’na’aseh, meaning “To Learn and To Do.” It’s time to get to work.