web analytics
July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Birthright Trips For Non-Jews

      Israel is about to turn 60 and the silence, outside of the Jewish community, is deafening. To date I have seen virtually no mention of the milestone in anything but Jewish publications.
 
      Israel’s monumental achievement, the fact that this tiny country with its neighbors hell-bent on eliminating it has somehow managed to survive, does not seem to be much of a story outside the Jewish world. Some would say this is appropriate. Israel is, after all, a Jewish state. Why should anyone else care?
 
      But on another level the fact that no one seems to be celebrating along with the Jews speaks volumes of our failure. Israel, it seems, has lost its ability to inspire all but Jews and evangelical Christians. These two groups see Israel’s creation and survival as possessing world-historical meaning. But to the rest of the world Israel is a country that is in the headlines because of bombs and battles. So the world is saying, no offense to you Jews, but what does your anniversary have to do with us?
 
      But wait a second. The anniversary of the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was commemorated recently not just by African-Americans and not just in the United States but around the world – including in Israel. And this is because the movement that King led, while focused primarily on the plight of blacks in the South, was seen as a global cry for freedom and justice.
 
      The civil rights movement portended an end to racism and irrational prejudice in every corner of the globe. Thus, it has significance for people everywhere. But was Zionism at one time not viewed in the same light? Was it not also a movement by an oppressed people, persecuted in every land in which they resided, to find a home where they could live in peace and freedom? Has it now become a movement that speaks to none but Jews alone?
 
      I believe we Jews have unwittingly contributed to the insular and exclusivist mindset that has made Israel a Jewish-only project. And sixty years into the project, we must start thinking differently.
 
      Two great mistakes have been made by the global Jewish community with regards to Israel. The first was to portray Israel as a modern entity with negligible historical roots. The second was to portray Israel as a Jewish-only entity with little relevance to the rest of the world.
 
      Mistake number one is captured by a conversation I had with a businessman who told me a few months back that he was concerned that Israel’s emphasis on its 60th birthday might feed Arab propaganda that Israel is a modern entity – created by European-Jewish colonialists – that has usurped Arab land. Instead of calling this Israel’s 60th birthday party, he argued, why not have a different motto, something along the lines of “Three Thousand Plus Sixty,” that captures the uninterrupted nature of the Jewish people’s attachment to its ancestral homeland?
 
      He had a point.
 
      Every few years I travel to South Africa for book tours. Black South Africans, while receptive to Jews, can be ambivalent about Israel. To them Israelis seem like white people who colonized the darker-skinned inhabitants of a land not their own. The parallel to apartheid South Africa creates immediate sympathy for the Palestinian side.
 
      I respond by telling my African hosts that the parallel between the two stories is really the reverse. Like black Africans in their land, the Jews were the original people who inhabited ancient Israel. Then the Romans came, colonized the land, decimated the Jewish population, and exiled the Jews to Europe and other parts of the Empire. But the Jews never lost a connection to their ancestral home, prayed every day to return, and a sizable Jewish minority remained even after the exile. Then, two thousand years later, when the opportunity and resources presented themselves, we began to reconstitute ourselves as a sovereign entity.
 
      The second mistake, making Israel something of only Jewish concern, is captured in the most successful and visionary Jewish program of our time, Birthright Israel. Birthright is nothing short of a miracle, and one of the reasons I so revere my friend Michael Steinhardt and his counterpart Charles Bronfman is because of their foresight in seeing just how inspirational the modern Jewish state could be to disaffected Jewish youth.
 
      But why stop there? Israel has the power to inspire non-Jewish youth as well.
 
      The Jews are history’s most influential people, having given the modern world its three foundations: God (universal brotherhood), the Ten Commandments (law), and the Messiah (progress aimed at perfecting the world). Those ideas were all born in the very soil of Israel, the world epicenter of faith and spiritual transcendence.
 
      But that’s not how the modern world sees it. India and Tibet have become the place of pilgrimage for Westerners seeking enlightenment. Just look at the level of sympathy the world rightly has for Tibet’s struggle against China versus the seeming lack of sympathy for Israel’s struggle against terrorism. That’s because the world feels it has a stake in Tibet’s welfare.
 
      The Dalai Lama has successfully portrayed his homeland as a place from which light shines to the entire earth and not just Buddhists. Should we not portray Israel in the same authentic light?
 
      I believe that of all the presents we can give Israel as it turns “Three Thousand Plus Sixty,” none would be more helpful than to inaugurate a Birthright for non-Jewish youth program that would seek to bring 50,000 non-Jewish students from around the world to Israel every year. Campuses are the venues where Israel is most attacked in the West today. Why not expose non-Jewish students to how stirring Israel is and give them a stake in its future?
 
      I’m supposed to be leading a press and media Birthright Trip to Israel for Mayanot this summer. Many of my non-Jewish colleagues in the media have practically begged me to attend. Birthright alumni from all over the globe will tell you the same. Their non-Jewish friends are envious of the transformative trip to Israel that right now is the preserve of Jewish youth alone.
 

      As for the cost, churches all over the U.S. would contribute, as would non-Jewish philanthropists and foundations sympathetic to Israel. And it would be the best PR Israel ever had.

 

 

      Rabbi Shmuley Boteach hosts a daily radio show in the United States and has just published “The Broken American Male and How to Fix Him.” Visit his website, www.shmuley.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Birthright Trips For Non-Jews”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Michael Oren, Dec. 16, 2013.
Ambassador Michael Oren Warns Obama is Legitimizing Hamas
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/birthright-trips-for-non-jews/2008/04/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: