In Israel, a new five month scholarship program being offered to young aspiring athletes – one of them could be you.
Im Tirtzu, an Israeli student organization, recently made waves when it accused the New Israel Fund (NIF) of granting millions of dollars to 16 NGOs, whose condemnations of the IDF helped build the case against Israel in the UN’s Goldstone Report. According to a controversial Im Tirtzu ad in Israeli newspapers, “Without the New Israel Fund, there could be no Goldstone Report, and Israel would not be facing international accusations of war crimes.”
In response to Im Tirtzu’s campaign, the Knesset promised to investigate the matter and the Jerusalem Post fired NIF president Naomi Chazan as a columnist for the paper. Meanwhile, prominent left-wing personalities slammed Im Tirtzu for McCarthyism and right-wing extremism.
Last week, The Jewish Press spoke with Ronen Shoval, the 29-year-old chairman and co-founder of Im Tirtzu.
The Jewish Press: Are there any new developments in your organization’s campaign against the NIF?
Shoval: We’re learning that the connection between the NIF and the Goldstone Report was only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of information is coming to us showing that the NIF is working so that Israel ultimately won’t be a Jewish state.
What do you mean by that?
For example, the words of Hatikvah speak of the “soul of a Jew yearning.” In the flag we have the Star of David. In 1947 the UN called for the establishment of a Jewish state. The NIF is trying to flip it over. They want Israel to be a country for all its residents. And that’s a big difference.
Your critics argue that Im Tirtzu’s claims regarding the NIF’s connection to the Goldstone Report are exaggerated. What is your response?
Well, it’s really hard to argue with footnotes. There are more than 199 footnotes [in our 120-page report] related to NIF organizations. The power of the Goldstone Report comes from the fact that Israeli organizations are blaming Israel of committing war crimes. It’s not interesting if Hamas says it. It’s interesting when Israelis say it. So I was looking: Who are the Israeli organizations blaming me and my friends of committing war crimes? And I found 16 organizations – all of them getting money from the NIF.
You know, just yesterday I went to the Friends of the IDF dinner and in front of the building there was a demonstration of several organizations calling to put [IDF Chief of Staff] Gabi Ashkenazi in jail. A couple of them were organizations sponsored by the NIF. If the NIF doesn’t think they are right, I will be more than happy if they stop sponsoring them.
What is Im Tirtzu’s goal? Why did you found it in 2006?
People in my generation try to kill sacred cows. We are trying to protect them. That’s our mission. So if some people don’t see the IDF as a sacred cow anymore, we are trying to protect it. If some people don’t see Jerusalem as a sacred cow anymore, we are trying to protect it. If people think the Holocaust can be denied, we are trying to protect it.
You bill your organization as “the second Zionist revolution.” What does that mean?
Every big revolution in the last century – socialism, communism, fascism, etc. – had energy for the first generation and then started going down. So we are trying to give spirit to the Zionist revolution and make a second one. Let’s give hope again to the people, to let them feel that they’re part of a great idea and can make a change.
Look at Israeli society today. It’s just inertia. My generation doesn’t have any clear answer for why they should risk their lives in order to ensure the existence of the Jewish state. We are trying to give answers.
How do you do that?
We are working inside campuses, advocating for Israel and Zionism on three levels: Zionism through the legs – tour the land; through the heart – celebrate Independence Day, Chanukah, etc.; and through the mind – explaining, lecturing, showing movies, etc.
We have branches right now in ten different universities with more than 25,000 members in the movement.
What do you tell Israelis who ask: Why should I live a precarious life in Israel when I can move to America and enjoy a comfortable existence?
Well, it depends on who’s asking. But generally I would say that we have the ability to be connected to a story of 3,500 years. We’re part of a nation living in a land where, every place you touch, you feel that you are part of a big, big chain. We have the opportunity to be part of a nation, and to see the chain all the way back and all the way to the future.
[Most] people in this world don’t have an opportunity of meaning. Lots of people don’t have meaning in life because they are not part of a community. This is what’s happening here in Western civilization; we are losing the inspiration of life. So when you’re part of a nation with such a beautiful history and such a beautiful future, this is an opportunity that we should [grasp].
We have the responsibility to make Israel and the world a better place. This is what our goal is, to be an ohr lagoyim. We’re lucky that we were born to a people with a great heritage and, potentially, a great future. But it’s all in our hands. This is the reason why Im Tirtzu is called Im Tirtzu [which means "If you will it"]. If we want, we can have it all, but if we don’t want
Some people argue that Zionism cannot exist without Judaism and to the extent that Judaism’s hold on the Jewish masses is weak, Zionism’s hold will also be weak. What’s your opinion?
I agree 100 percent. And I think one of the issues that we are dealing with in Israel is how to bring young secular kids closer to their heritage.
But you yourself are not ritually observant.
No, I grew up in Ramat HaSharon, which is a suburb of Tel Aviv, in a secular family.
But the Torah sees Judaism as the nation first, and then religion. How do we know? We are called the Jewish people before we got the Torah. Pharaoh called us a nation – “hinei am ratzu mi’menu.” When God asked the different nations to accept the Torah, we were one of them. In the book of Shoftim the people were not keeping the law, but they didn’t stop being a people.
This is how the Torah, God – not me – defines Judaism: first national, then religion. I have very strong feelings about, and an understanding of, the religion, but the question about what I do when I wake up in the morning is a whole different aspect.
Im Tirtzu claims to be neither left wing nor right wing. Which Zionist personalities, then, inspire Im Tirtzu’s ideology?
We have a couple of them. I would say Moshe Rabbeinu, Herzl, Jabotinsky, Berl Katznelson .
Don’t the writings of these leaders contradict one another?
No. They may have had their differences, but they were all committed Zionists.
You also have to understand that we’re not copying. We’re creating something new. I’m coming out soon with a book called Herzl’s Vision 2.0. I think it’s unique because most books about Zionism are not about Zionism; they’re about the archeology of Zionism – what Berl Katznelson or Jabotinsky thought 100 years ago. It’s too old; we need to have new ideological blood in the system.
My book tries to answer all the hard questions – Why stay in Israel? What does it mean to be a Zionist? etc. – for our generation.
About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and holds a Masters degree from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel School of Jewish Studies.
Comments are closed.
The growing revelations that the Obama State Department watered down public statements on the attack in order to cleanse them of any mention of al Qaeda and terrorism is a travesty.
We must confront Islamist groups with what Prime Minister David Cameron referred to as “muscular liberalism.”
Al-Qaradawi’s visit and statements also serve as a reminder that the Israeli-Arab conflict is centered, more than ever, around religion.
Everyone who reads newspapers should know at least one thing. Threats to annihilate Israel have always been unremarkable. Almost never, it seems, have Israel’s existential enemies sought any reason for concealment.
Mark Treyger, a candidate for city council in New York City’s 47th council district, met recently with the editorial board of The Jewish Press at the newspaper’s Boro Park office.
Israel’s government did not want to liberate Jerusalem. Or to be more specific, the Labor and National Religious Party ministers did not want to liberate Jerusalem. “Who needs that whole Vatican?” Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained at the time.
Last Friday, the Western Wall underwent an unwelcome transformation from sacred site to media circus as the group known as the Women of the Wall sought to hold a decidedly non-traditional prayer service.
Two recent revelations have raised serious questions about the kind of government President Obama is running.
Readers of my monthly Baseball Insider column may have noticed its absence last week (the column appears in the second issue of every month). The reason for that is I have something more serious and personal to share with you, something that didn’t seem appropriate for a baseball column.
Herbert Romerstein died last week after a long illness. With Herb’s passing, we lose not only a good guy but a vast reservoir of knowledge that is not replaceable.
Freedom House recently released its annual report on press freedom throughout the world at an event sponsored by the Newseum in Washington. But along with the usual and appropriate condemnations of dictatorships and totalitarian states, the group decided to slam the one democracy in the Middle East as well as one of the few states in the region where press freedom actually exists: Israel.
What is the relationship between Pesach and Shavuos?
Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, rosh yeshiva of Sh’or Yoshuv, relates in the name of the Ishbitzer Rebbe a striking metaphor:
Now is the time for Ankara to take some corrective domestic and foreign policy measures consistent with what the country has and continues to aspire for but fails to realize.
From December 2002 to January 2009, Elliott Abrams was an insider. As deputy assistant to the president and later deputy national security adviser – with the Middle East as his focus – Abrams interacted daily with such figures as President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Israeli Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.
Yesh Atid is sometimes perceived as avidly secular, but two rabbis currently serve in the party as MKs. One is Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s new education minister. The other is Rabbi Dov Lipman, the first American-born Knesset member since Rabbi Meir Kahane.
The Jewish Press recently spoke with Rabbi Goldstein – author of the bulk of The Legacy: Teachings for Life from the Great Lithuanian Rabbis (Maggid Books). Rabbi Goldstein will be visiting Los Angeles and San Diego from April 11-16.
In an exclusive interview with the Jewish Press, newly elected MK Moshe Feiglin affirms he is still trying to revolutionize Israel.
Although it was released in 2011, “Unmasked Judeophobia: The Threat to Civilization” is still playing to audiences across the world. As the title suggests, “Unmasked Judeophobia” examines the history of anti-Semitism and its alarming resurgence in the form of anti-Zionism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
An interview with historian Gil troy on his new book, “Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight Against Zionism and Racism.”
“In that case, what makes you better than the terrorists?”
I often hear this question. It usually comes up after someone suggests that Israel ruthlessly defeat its enemies instead of maintaining its current wishy-washy approach of hiding behind security walls, wearing the enemy down, and offering land in an effort to advance peace.
Out of prison since 2010, Abramoff is committed to reforming the lobbying industry that he helped tarnish.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/we-need-to-have-new-ideological-blood-in-the-system-an-interview-with-im-tirtzu-founder-ronen-shoval/2010/03/17/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: