Defend Israel Even if the Cost is Jewish Unity

Tags: Leadership, Media, Jewish Unity, Israel Engagement, History, Zionism, Advocacy, Nationalism, Am Yisrael, Judaism

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
The Observer
Jan 9, 2014

Pro-Israel protestors demonstrate in front of the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations following the murder in Jerusalem of four men by two armed Palestinians; November 18, 2014 in New York City. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Unity has long been the battle cry of the Jewish community. Unity between orthodox and reform. Unity between religious and secular. Unity between Ashkenazim and Sephardim.

Indeed, it should be so. Countless teachings of the Torah convey God’s love for the united children of Israel.

Yet there are things worth fighting for. And defending Israel is one of those things.

Protecting Israel from a world onslaught trumps Jewish unity. Jewish organizations are rapidly dividing into two: those who do good work yet lack the moral courage to stand up for the Jewish state, and those who understand that Israel is great battle of our time and all must rise to the occasion.

Theodore Herzl knew he was dividing world Jewry by proposing a Jewish state. Peter Bergson (aka Hillel Kook) knew he was dividing American Jewry by organizing the “Rabbi’s March” against the holocaust in Washington, DC, in October, 1943, which failed to attract a single Conservative or Reform Rabbi.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe knew he was dividing world Jewry – especially the Orthodox – when he launched Jewish outreach in 1967 with its heretical premise that Jews who drove on the Sabbath should put on tefillin and be encouraged to come to Synagogue.

None of these great men put Jewish unity before the future of the Jewish people. None of them curtailed their activities in order not to make waves.

Indeed, virtually every time the Rebbe sent an emissary to a city, he knew it could potentially – and often did – divide the community. Why are you sending us a Rabbi when we already have one? Why are you opening a rival Jewish day school? We don’t have enough Jews in this city for one community, let alone two.

The Rebbe loved when Jews were together. But he loved it even more when Jews were thriving. Sometimes it took competition to create a culture in which Jewry could flourish.

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Tags: Leadership, Media, Jewish Unity, Israel Engagement, History, Zionism, Advocacy, Nationalism, Am Yisrael, Judaism