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Wed Feb 29, 2012, 05:34 AM

Returning to Rabin's Zionism

By Daniel G. Zemel and Jack Moline
Published February 27, 2012, issue of March 02, 2012.

Jack Moline is the rabbi of Congregation Agudas Achim in Alexandria, Va. Daniel Zemel is the rabbi of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C. They are the co-authors of the statement “Religious Ethical Zionism,” which can be found online.


On a hopeful evening in early November 1995, a broad cross-section of Israel’s population gathered in Tel Aviv’s Kings of Israel Square to join together for the cause of peace. They came to hear from their leader, Yitzhak Rabin, recently awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Oslo Accords. Rabin’s words that evening included the following statement: “Violence erodes the basis of Israeli democracy. It must be condemned and isolated.”

Upon finishing his speech and singing “Shir LaShalom” (“A Song of Peace”) with the crowd, Rabin left the stage and headed toward his waiting car. It was then that three shots rang out, and this lover of Zion, who had devoted his life to rebuilding his people’s homeland, was killed in an act of senseless violence. The perpetrator? A misguided Jew with a heart of hate, Yigal Amir. How little we understood then the extent to which Amir was simply the most extreme and murderous example of an ideological culture that threatens the character and fabric of the Zionism that created and shaped Israel — the Zionism of Yitzhak Rabin.

This very Zionism that so many American Jews love — the Zionism of the founding generations representing leaders and thinkers as disparate as A.D. Gordon and HaRav Abraham I. Kook — is yet found in vital corners of Israeli society. In many ways it remains the Zionism of the silent majority. This Zionism, which embraces both universal ethics and the fulfillment of Jewish peoplehood, needs to raise its voice and protest the despicable crimes that are perpetrated in the names of Judaism and Zionism today, crimes ranging from spitting on school girls to burning mosques, from assaulting soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces to defacing private property with swastikas. This Zionism needs to re-energize itself and proclaim its values to the world in Israel as well as here in the North American Diaspora.

Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/151843/#ixzz1nlYP9Z3b

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