Over the years, I have done my share, some would say “more than my share”, of criticizing specific policies of the government of Israel. I should note very quickly that these comments need to be taken in the context of the many times I have celebrated what Israel means to us as Jews and to the world as well and the joy I have experienced in taking many groups on tours to Israel over the years. But, I stand by my criticism about the policies that I feel are not in line with the values and a secure future for the State.
I want Israel to be the best nation that it can be, taking into account its legitimate security needs. I want the vision of an Israel based on justice, equality and fairness to be fulfilled and I am disappointed when it is not.
But, let me be clear, as I have been so many times before. Focusing on human rights and other issues within Israel is not in any way meant to imply in any way that Israel’s failings are worse than other nations. That is obviously not the case.
In addition to focusing on issues in Israel, we as Jews, need to speak out against heinous violations of human rights and ethics that take place in the world. What we are seeing from the news stories about ISIS and other extremist groups against Christians and other minority groups is horrendous, heartbreaking and demands a response. This is uncivilized behavior for which there is no excuse and for which there should be no tolerance. I am proud that our nation is seeking to stop the advance and growth of this group and I only hope that we accomplish that mission and save the individuals who are being persecuted and slaughtered in such inhumane ways.
It is natural that we focus on the issues facing the countries that are nearest to our hearts. Recognizing that our failings are less objectionable than others in the world doesn’t remove from us the responsibility of putting our own house in order. But, it is also incumbent on us to fulfill the responsibilities of speaking out against human rights abuses throughout the world and to speak frankly and bluntly when others engage in actions which go against our values as human beings. I pray for our nation’s and the world’s strength in standing against such atrocities and stopping them.