Rabbi David Forman, the founder of Rabbis for Human Rights, has written a thoughtful commentary in the Jerusalem Post which reveals the extent to which radical Islam has forced the Zionist left to reconsider its entire worldview. Of course, we have all seen how the jihadists promote their hate virtually without condemnation from the left in the US and in Europe (except when there is an ACTUAL terror incident; incitement to terror doesn't seem to worry them). Obviously, the Zionist left has a somewhat different agenda than their counterparts elsewhere. But as Rabbi Forman shows, even their idealism and pursuit of justice has now run headlong into the complete refusal of radical Islamists to accept the existence of Jews (and not just in Israel, but ANYWHERE). Given that circumstance, he notes ".... we must carefully weigh the possible consequences of our rhetoric and activities......Painful memories of our history, presently reflected in the mirror of a dangerous new reality, compel us to examine and reexamine, evaluate and reevaluate our deeply held principles - even as we resolutely cling to our ideals, steadfastly advancing a social agenda that impels Israel to be a 'light unto the nations.'" Many of us reached the same conclusion after the events of September 2000; well, better late than never.
As a liberal American Zionist, I also deal with the dichotomy between my liberalism and my Zionism. I support much of the social agenda promoted by the same Protestant denominations that entertain discussions of boycotting Israel; I abhor the strident opposition to choice and to gay rights from the same evangelical Christians whose financial and moral support of Israel I deeply appreciate (even if I don't agree with their more right-wing positions on the conflict). However, as Rabbi Forman also points out, staying alive is a pretty important priority on the agenda as well. And if anyone who thinks that radical Islam would be satisfied with (merely) the elimination of the Jewish state is the intellectual heir of Neville Chamberlain.
Perhaps Rabbi Forman's piece will help the Zionist leftists in this country realize that they cannot on the one hand work to build a just society within Israel, yet on the other continue to be involved with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (and, at least in our area, Women in Black) who fundamentally oppose Israel's very existence as a Jewish state. Perhaps Rabbis for Human Rights won't co-sponsor events with JVP and Bay Area Women in Black, as they did earlier this year in Berkeley.
After all, the first basic human right is the right to life. And the forces of radical Islam surrounding Israel refuse to accept even that for the Jews. Indeed, it is well past time for those who do support Israel to heed Forman's words, and to actively challenge those, especially those in the Jewish community, who don't.