So, Yuli Edelstein has decided to turn every Israeli in to an ambassador. As part of a new campaign called “Explaining Israel” he is putting out pamphlets, running television advertisements and operating a website asking citizens to get involved in a public diplomacy drive for Israel. “We decided to give Israelis who go abroad tools and tips to help them deal with the attacks on Israel in their conversations with people, media appearances and lectures before wide audiences,” Edelstein, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister, told the Jerusalem Post close to the start of the campaign. “I hope we succeed together in changing the picture and proving to the world that there is a different Israel.”
Last week his office said that the campaign’s Web site Masbirim (“explainers”) received 150,000 hits in its first fortnight, and revealed that an English-language site is in the pipeline.
Ha’aretz’s Yair Sheleg gives a smart and succinct summation of what Israel’s disgruntled far-rightists, far-leftists and ultra-Orthodox fundamentally have in common:
The Zionist revolution had many different enemies from the start - a coalition of ultra-Orthodox and Reform Jews and socialist revolutionaries, who had difficulty relinquishing the devotion to spiritual matters for a state like all other states. The problem is that this attitude still characterizes Zionism and Israel to this day. People on the left, right and even the ultra-Orthodox community are finding it hard to give up the unique Jewish devotion to ideal and spiritual considerations and deal with the difficult, compromising decisions required of a nation state.
The right wing wants us to stick to the land’s holiness and ignore every realistic demographic or foreign policy consideration. The left wants to adhere to “Jewish morality” and ignore every realistic consideration of protecting Israeli citizens. The ultra-Orthodox see the Zionist revolution itself as a desecration of the proper Jewish pyramid.
They all, however, want to share the fruits of Zionism - having Israel as their national home - without paying the price, which would mean compromising their values.
Read the full article.
“Some commentators believe that ‘the Jewish Question’ that has been buzzing around in the West for some three centuries — the question of how this ancient people, the Jews, should fit into a modern political order — should be reopened,” writes Gadi Taub in a review of four new books in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “National self-determination for Jews in a state of their own, such critics say, can no longer be part of a morally acceptable answer. That is a telling development. As in the past, Western attitudes to the ‘Jewish Question’ are reliable indications of larger political moods and of the shifting meanings of political concepts.”
See the full article here.