Thursday, December 6, 2012 | return to: views, opinions


Two Views |  Being a friend to the Jewish state means criticizing wrong-headed actions

by rabbi david j. cooper

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The United Nations overwhelmingly voted last week to grant the Palestinian Authority the status of nonmember observer state in the General Assembly. One salient aspect of this vote was that several of Israel’s best friends in the U.N. switched from plans to abstain to a yes vote, or from plans to vote no to an abstention.

Sometimes, to be a friend of Israel means to express opposition to its self-destructive behavior. I have experienced this personally, and we now are watching it on a world scale.

V_c_bandGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to change Germany’s vote from no to an abstention in response to her frustration to obtain any gesture from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the direction of the curtailment of settlement expansion. Apparently she was also moved by the support for the Palestinian bid by Israeli Daniel Barenboim, the artistic and music director of Berlin’s opera house, the Staatsoper, and by Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister. Barenboim and Olmert cannot be credibly accused of being enemies of Israel.

There was nothing in the U.N. resolution that delegitimized Israel. In fact, it reaffirmed Israel’s legitimacy as a state among the nations with its right to self-determination while affirming that a Palestinian state has an equal right.

Other than the issue of Palestinian access to the International Criminal Court, the vote at the United Nations was largely symbolic. But what has been the response of the Netanyahu government? To announce as punishment for this vote that it will now proceed to build a highly controversial settlement in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim whose outcome would be, at best, a near-fatal blow to the realization of a two-state solution.

So in response to a largely symbolic move by the P.A. and the U.N. General Assembly that affirmed Israel’s right to exist and a two-state solution, the Israeli government is responding with concrete steps that may be irreversible in eradicating

the possibility of a two-state outcome.

Say what you want about whether settlements are the major obstacle to peace or whether they are a side issue — the main issue is a one-state vs. two-state solution. If Israeli government actions now move us into a place of total and permanent control by Israel from the sea to the river, woe unto us. If we reach or have reached this point, then claims of apartheid-like control will move from conjecture to reality.

In Leviticus 19:17-18, the Torah — using words of the absolute imperative, hocheach tochiach — commands us to reprove our friends when they are wrong, even as we bear them no grudge and love them as ourselves. This is not a time for Israel’s friends to remain silent.

Rabbi David J. Cooper is the congregational rabbi of Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont.


Posted by jrubin
12/07/2012  at  10:52 AM
Israel Needs Friends Like Merkel and Rabbi Cooper

How unfortunate that our government failed to be a true friend to Israel. If the U.S. would have followed Germany’s example and at least abstained from voting, then we would be registering a criticism about our “friend.”  If our government had voted in favor of admission to the UN, then maybe we would have been a true friend to the Palestinian people by endorsing Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. It is not necessarily anti-Semitic to criticize Israel and a true friend would tell Israel to support Palestinian admission, and get back to negotiating a two-state solution. As American Jews we need to tell our government to put pressure on Netanyahu to stop building settlements and start building peace.

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Posted by Alex Madonik
12/07/2012  at  01:29 PM
Rabbi David speaks for me

Rabbi David speaks for me—and for many Israelis as well.

Netanyahu doesn’t want to hear other views, and his government is effectively held hostage by the right wing that wants to annex the West Bank.

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Posted by RoxyG
12/07/2012  at  02:08 PM
Thank you Rabbi David

All I have to say is… AMEN!!

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Posted by bweiss
12/07/2012  at  03:46 PM
Rabbi David Speaks for Me!

Amen! Thank you Rabbi David. It is time for educated and conscious Jews to stand up for what is right.

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Posted by EvaP
12/08/2012  at  12:55 PM
Rabbi David speaks for me too!

We have to speak up when any government including Israel is doing wrong!We have more to fear by silence.
Thank you Rabbi David for doing that as you always speak up for justice and peace!

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Posted by Sam Liron
12/08/2012  at  10:00 PM
Rabbi Cooper - Mind your business

Rabbi Cooper – With all due respect you have NO SAY in Israel affairs, it is none of your business, and no one anointed you to be Israel moral guide, or to that effect the New Israel fund and other bleeding heart hypocrite progressives in the Jewish community here in the affluent SF Bay Area.  With so called friends like you, Rabbi Lerner, Mr. Ben-Ami of the pro-Palestinian J-Street Israel needs no enemies. 
You are living in your comfortable home in affluent Piedmont, safe and comfy and telling the citizens of Israel who live day in and day out under a constant mortal threats what to live, who to elect or how to defend their live, Have you NO SHAME. 
Israelis built their Democratic prosperous country by scarifying their blood and sweat, NOT YOURS! They do NOT NEED your inane sermons.
Israel is their country, they will live and suffer the consequences of their decision and action, while you are sitting like a kibitzer 8000 miles away and passing judgment. Who are you to think and you are better or your moral dogma is superior to theirs.  You live in the USA and no ONE especially NOT the Israelis appointed you as their moral guide or ask for your inane advice.
As the old sage adage goes “Loh Me’oktzeha V’Loh Me’Duvsheha’ Israel needs or ask for neither your opinion/critic nor your support.
And to all others here, who are jumping on Mr. Cooper’s wagon, enjoy downhill ride to the valley of Mushkins….

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Posted by FrankLee
12/12/2012  at  12:10 AM
With "friends" like J Street, who needs enemies.

What you have here is J Street anti-Israel propaganda published by JWeekly.  The Jimmy Carter and other far-leftist’s anti-Israel “apartheid” slur is but one of the far-left’s antisemitic libels.  What hasn’t Israel done for peace?  The “palestinian” enemies of the Jewish people, since Israel’s creation, have proven themselves to be implacable.  They could have a mutually secure peace with the stroke of a pen, but have never been truly interested in doing so.  Even so, Israel has acted in the most restrained manner, at times taking dangerous and potentially self-destructive risks, in the quest for peace with its arab neighbors. 

To have Torah cited as an excuse for anti-Israel propaganda, meant to undermine American Jewish, and therefore American, support for Israel, is obscene.

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Posted by jrubin
12/12/2012  at  03:39 PM
to Frank Lee and Sam Liron and others

To quote Edward R. Murrow:
“Do not confuse dissent with disloyalty.”  He said this in the context of McCarthyism in the US.  As Jews, are we not open to criticism and self examination?

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Posted by FrankLee
12/12/2012  at  11:36 PM
"Disloyalty" too weak a description

These are the enemies of the Jewish people. They is not “dissenters”.  They belong to and represent so-called “Jewish” groups and organizations whose very purpose is to injure American support for Israel.  To do so they employ the most vile libelous and anti-Jewish (“anti-Zionist”) rhetoric and propaganda.  To defend them with the claim of “McCarthyism” is yet another libelous slur.  These enemies of the Jewish people have zero legitimacy. 

It is the obligation of “loyal” American Jews (who care for the safety of the Jewish people and Israel) to denounce them in the strongest possible terms. 

It is despicable that their representatives are provided a forum, and that their “views” are parroted, in a purportedly “Jewish” publication.

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Posted by Sam Liron
12/13/2012  at  04:21 PM
To jrubin - please sell

To jrubin - please sell your inane slogans to kindergarten toddlers, we know you and your disloyal Rabbi Cooper who put up a nice charade, but for a moment we do not buy your shtick. Neither of you has any moral standing to preach or criticize people’s living in harm’s way, while you are sitting fat and sassy in the comfort and affluence of the SF Bay Area. Both of you are WRONG, do not criticize another person, till you walk a mile in his shoes.  Go fly a kite, you may have better moral standing in doing that, then tell Israel how to act or how to live. Just hypocritical grandstanding of little munchkins.

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