Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rabbi Melchior on...

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Member of Knesset Rabbi Michael Melchior (Labor - Meimad), currently serving as Deputy Minister of Education has recently been appointed to be in charge of Diaspora Affairs for the Israeli government - the 2nd time that he has found himself in this post - recently vacated by Natan Sharansky, who resigned from the position in protest to Prime Minister Sharon's expulsion ("Disengagement") plan.

Here are some of the things that Rabbi Melchior had to say during the interview (along with my thoughts on them:

"We have to make it understood that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, that this is society's problem and civilization's problem. We need to activate a leadership among non-Jews who believe in human rights to take responsibility... it can't be only Jewish organizations who are working on this."

I have heard this idea many times before, and I just don't get it. Can someone please explain to me how anti-Semitism is anyone's problem other than the Jewish People's? Yes, anti-Semitism isn't pretty, but to say that it is in the best interest of general society and civilization is a bit of a stretch, as I see it.

When there is anti-Semitism, the Jews suffer - not the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics or anyone else. The sooner we internalize this message ,the sooner we will come up with ways to successfully deal with this issue - if we expect the nations of the world to solve this problem for us, we will be waiting a long time - and it won't be pretty.

Combating Assimilation:
"I don't believe in fighting assimilation by saying that we should fight assimilation," he said, "I believe that you will fight assimilation and invite Aliyah by working toward an active, relevant, young, exciting Jewish community".

Right on.

"I also don't believe that we will gain one new immigrant by saying, 'You have to make Aliyah,'" Melchior continued. "Likewise, you can't run around telling people for four years that Israel is a terrible place and all the people are miserable, that you need to pay for barbed wire around every kindergarten, that people are blowing up on every corner, that there is deep hunger and so on, and then say, 'Now, come on Aliyah.'"

On the money. At the same time, I do not believe that anyone should be misled into believing that Israel is something that it is not. There are many challenges facing the Jewish People here in Israel, but those living here are taking an active role in helping to create a better future for the Jewish State of Israel (not to mention, fulfilling the will of G-d).

Sadly, for too many Jews, when you mention Israel, they will immediately think of Palestinians, terror, "Disengagement", and so on... We need to be able to help Jews think of Israel in a positive light and recognize how they as individuals, and as part oft he greater Jewish People can find fulfillment and growth in the Jewish State.


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