Why this Yom Ha'Atzmaut is different!

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

This time of year is generally a good time to consider our personal relationship with the Land of Israel. The combination of Yom Ha'Atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim creates something of an "Israel Season".  But this year is different. 

Why is this year different? Because J-street and their nefarious friends made it different. Until recently, there was generally a united pro-Israel stance throughout the American Jewish Community. Of course, there were always those on the fringes, but they were generally viewed as practically insignificant. The bulk of the community stood together. There were positives and negatives to this situation. Brazen, self-righteous and destructive actions and statements by the left were quashed, but so were potentially practical, constructive and empowering actions by the right. Everyone was content with the "unity" and "moderation". 

Now things have changed dramatically. With the founding of J-street, AIPAC's previous hegemony has been undermined. Until now, for better or worse, AIPAC represented the American Jewish consensus on Israel. J-street, and their allies, has begun to regularly attack Israel from the left, culminating in their recent conference in DC, where this was said by one of their "esteemed" panelists:

“We need to think very hard and very creatively about how we amplify Palestinian nonviolent protest in the West Bank…the best way we could do that is to be there ourselves.”

he followed with this:

“Once America’s rabbis have to face the parents whose children are being tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets in the West Bank [and] once the American Jewish local newspapers have to write about it because it’s the kids from their day schools who are at those protests, then the American Jewish community will not be able to ignore it anymore,” (http://forward.com/opinion/israel/217296/want-to-fight-the-occupation-after-bibis-victory/)

What this represents is a call to action. AND WE SHOULD RESPOND! WITH OUR OWN CALL TO ACTION!!! 

Its time that the actual pro-Israel community step it up! No more worrying about what AIPAC says or what the Federations will say or any of the other “establishment” organizations. J-street and their anti-Israel allies want to send their youth to attack Israel, we should send our youth to build and strengthen Israel! Our efforts should not only be amplified but better targeted to politically significant and strategic campaigns.


-Strengthening the Jewish Presence in Jerusalem (http://www.israellandfund.com/en-us/index.htm) (http://www.jerusalemchai.org/) (http://www.cityofdavid.org.il/en/The-Ir-David-Foundation) (http://beitorot.org/english/)

-Planting trees (after Shmitta) that enlarge the borders of Jewish communities (http://www.israeltrees.org/home/)

-Constructing and beautifying Synagogues in strategic communities (http://www.gofundme.com/hi09as)

-Volunteering in the Israeli army (through the Machal program)

-Guarding communities under threat (http://hashomer.org.il/)

-Becoming an active member of the ZOA – Zionist Organization of America (http://zoa.org/) and other strongly pro-Israel organizations

-Supporting Israeli soldiers (http://www.yasharlachayal.org/) (http://www.stogether.org/)

-Supporting Jewish students on campus (http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/rejected-huffpo-run-times-israel)

Of course,  there are many more! Its time to respond to this challenge by going on offense! We’ve been playing defense for way too long. “The day is short, the work is much…the reward is great…” (Pirkei Avos). On Yom HaZikaron, we remember all those that gave everything. Now its time for us to give something! And more than we have in the past! Under attack from the left, Why should your brothers go out and fight while you stay here?!” (Bamidbar, 32:6). Its time to break of our self-imposed "community" restraints and start getting things done! 

Ben Packer

Old City of Jerusalem