Shabbat Talmud Study: Why We Must Teach Their Nakba To Our Children

Pick a super Jewish school in a super Jewish city: say Barnard, in New York City.

This week Barnard’s students voted by a nearly 2 to 1 margin in favor of BDS. In other words, Jewish students, in a college with a lot of Jews, in a city with a lot of Jews, voted against the Jewish homeland. Indeed, young college-educated Jews, en masse, committed a flagrant act of anti-Semitism. How can this be?

This is a wake-up call. We need a different kind of Israel education, one that can equip our children to get, and to be okay with, the moral complexity that inheres in the creation of the Jewish state.

A Jewish alum of Barnard, Aiden Pink, observed:

Jewish students arrive at college unprepared to defend Israel despite wanting to, because they were handed a fairytale about Israel, not an education.

The way liberal Jewish students, synagogues and other institutions teach students about Israel fails to prepare us to develop adult relationships with the country. And in seeking to make young Jews into propagandists for Israel, American Jewish institutions deprive us of the very tools we need to defend it.

There was moral complexity in the creation of the State of Israel. Contrary to Golda Meir’s claim, it was not a people without a land for a land without a people. It was a people without a land coming to a land that already had a people. Our dream was their nightmare. The Arabic word for nightmare is Nakba.

I am currently working on Nakba 101 to teach our children. If the creation of Israel meant a nightmare for Palestinians, why is that okay? How is that okay? There are compelling answers to these questions. Our children need to hear about moral complexity from us before the BDS petition that awaits them when they get to college. Tomorrow morning, we will consider a mature and adult relationship to Israel: we know of the moral complexity, and we love Israel anyway.

See you tomorrow at 8:30.

Shabbat shalom,