In defense of disappointment.

Author:Gordis, David M.
Position:OPINIONS - Letter to the editor

I am indebted to Gershom Gorenberg, whose work 1 have admired for many years, for taking the time to respond to my article in Tikkun. He admonishes me for my "despair" over Israel ("Don't Despair: Israel's Not a Failure," May/June 2016) and rejects my conclusion that after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, in every important way, I find Israel has failed to realize its promise for me.

There are two core issues here: the current reality of Israel and the appropriate response to that reality. I believe that Gorenberg and I are not far apart on the former. It is on the second matter that Gorenberg and I might differ.

Gorenberg argues that visionary leaders have faced what appeared to be insuperable obstacles and did not give up. I agree. In fact, that's just the sort of leadership that I wish we had in Israel now. Gorenberg states: "Declaring that nothing can be done, you stop asking what you can do." Rereading my piece, I tried to find any assertion that "nothing can be done." Despite my pessimism, I am still actively involved in J Street and speak out for a better Israel.

Gorenberg talks about American Jewish organizations that are lobbying for more vigorous support for a two-state outcome. He cites groups in Israel working for economic change, human rights, Jewish-Arab equality and religious diversity. Even so, as Gorenberg himself says, the settlement policies that were adopted a half-century ago by a Labor government have been supported by the majority of the Israeli electorate. Gorenberg takes issue with my characterization of the right wing...

To continue reading