This morning I find myself sitting in Boston's Logan Airport, waiting for a flight to Washington, D.C. where I'll be attending the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America. Last year the GA was held in Jerusalem, and not surprisingly much of the focus was on Israel, with Prime Minister Netanyahu among the speakers. It's not surprising that Israel will be a prominent topic of discussion this year too, especially given the war with Hamas this past summer.
The connection between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities is an important, complicated and ever-evolving relationship, and for this reason I imagine that Israel will remain an important topic of discussion at events like the GA. For some within the Diaspora community Israel is a second home, both spiritually and physically, while others feel completely disconnected from the country. There are those on the far left who are automatically and intensely critical of every single thing the Israeli government does, and others on the far right who are unwilling to consider anything that happens in Israel with a critical eye.
These extremes represent polar opposites, but I would guess that the vast majority of people fall somewhere in the middle. It is for this reason that I'm looking forward to this gathering in Maryland, where I hope to have the opportunity to hear and participate in conversations about Israel and the ways that we in the Diaspora can strengthen our connection to the Jewish state in a meaningful and positive way.
Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2014.