Sunday, September 13, 2009

Revisiting Dissent - Why speaking with many voices can be powerful

Now this is really echo chamber stuff, so forgive me.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the rise of J-Street, Z-Street and the growing vocal and public displays of division in the Jewish community over Israel.  It seems to be, to my great chagrin, that Israel has become the most divisive issue in the Jewish community today.

Now, on one hand, that's a bad thing.  If one thing should keep us united, it's the sense that the Jewish people deserve a safe, secure and Jewish homeland should be a no-brainer.

But that's not what the divide is about.

The divide is about how to get there.  And that discussion is a good thing.  What is wrong is that the discussion, like the August congressional town meetings, is not a discussion at all.  It's a series of screaming matches that convince no one of anything except that the gap is widening.  And, that is causing most of our community to tune out, leaving the discussion to those who would seek division.  But that's a matter for another time.

What I would like to posit today is that the division and the discussion is a good thing.  After all, they do it in Israel, why shouldn't we do it here.  What are we afraid of?

That said, I think there is an actual benefit to the division.  Namely, when there is agreement on an issue -- like there is for the most part about Iran, our community is more powerful.  When people who disagree unite on an issue (like Christian conservatives and liberals do on the environment) the message is much stronger.

(J-Street is a bit out of sync on this issue - take a look at this article from JTA at this point, but I think the issue is timing rather than substance)

I won't belabor the point - but as this Rosh Hashana approaches let's find ways to be civil when we disagree and harness our power when we do.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

Brookline, MA, United States
Thought provoking discussion or musings of a kid from the other side of the tracks...