The dramatic increase in active advocacy for Israel in the Reform movement was obvious at the URJ’s recent Biennial Convention held in Washington DC. That convention featured a number of speakers whose speeches primarily focused on Israel and a number of others whose speeches contained significant references to Israel. All of the speeches delivered were supportive of a strong US-Israel relationship.
The conference as a whole was very comfortable to a regular attendee of the AIPAC Policy Conference featuring speeches from President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Former Israeli Prime Minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Ambassador Michael Oren and Natan Sharansky. In addition to those notable political figures, Rabbi Dick Hirsch delivered an inspiring speech about the importance of Israel advocacy and Zionism in the Reform movement and both Rabbi Eric Yoffie and Rabbi Rick Jacobs noted the Reform movement’s strong support of Israel’s security while hoping that it is able to eventually achieve peace along with it.
The Religious Action Center (RAC) held a “Day with the RAC” program that included lunch at the Israeli Embassy and a discussion with Amb. Oren as well as visits by several Members of Congress who all noted the importance of strong support for Israel. The conference even featured performances by Israeli artists David Broza and Rami Kleinstein. To say that Israel and Israel advocacy were prominent at the Biennial would be a major understatement. AIPAC held a reception at the Biennial for the first time ever and it was well attended by rabbis and congregants alike.
Just today, I received the following in an email from the Religious Action Center:
For the first time ever, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Religious Action Center will be hosting a Reform Movement reception during the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
The Reform movement is now doing an excellent job of promoting Israel advocacy. Many of the signatories of the We Are For Israel mission statement have played no little part in the increased attention paid to Israel in the Reform movement and in the strengthened dialogue about our need to support Israel as it pursues both security and peace.
The Israel advocacy sky isn’t falling. In fact, in the Reform movement support for Israel is increasing both qualitatively and quantitatively. There is both more advocacy going on and better advocacy going on. But there remain problems. First, the children of uninformed or worse–misinformed–parents are much more likely to be uninformed or misinformed themselves. Second, the lack of good information leads directly to apathy and misinformation may even lead to hostility.
This is where We Are For Israel and you, those who care about Israel advocacy, come in. We cannot be complacent. We need to continue to speak out, to educate, and to advocate. We need to continue to raise awareness about issues concerning Israel and to provide good information on those issues. As events transpire in the region, We Are For Israel will provide through our blog, as best we can, a politically moderate view of the events and concerns.
Let us know, how we can better help you to advocate for Israel in your diverse and sometimes challenging communities.
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