Two interesting Israel-focused blogs recently came to my attention, arising out of progressive Israel-related organizations. Meretz USA -- "a US non-profit organization that supports a genuine peace between the State of Israel and its neighbors (including the Palestinian people) based on a negotiated land-for-peace solution" -- has a new blog. And the New Israel Fund -- "[a] fund dedicated to religious pluralism and civil rights in Israel" -- also has a blog, NIForum.
Both of these blogs tackle current events. The Meretz folks have dedicated a series of posts to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's plan to build a museum of tolerance on what was once a Muslim cemetary. In this post, Lily Rivlin denounces the plan in strong language. "I am a 7th generation Jerusalemite," Rivlin writes. "Jerusalem lives within me. I write to tell you that I am surprised, if not shocked, to learn that the Wiesenthal Center intends to build a Museum for Tolerance at a site that was once an Arab Cemetery..."
And a recent post at the NIF blog offers a firsthand account of the protests against the recent attack at the Church of the Annunciation, ending with the observation that "Against a backdrop of inequality, economic injustice and discrimination, not to mention election fever, incidents such as these will continue [to] serve as painful sources of friction and anger."
Neither blog seems to be attracting many comments or conversations yet, but I think both blogs have potential to become more interactive. It may just be a question of limited readership thus far. And there's a lot that I like about both organizations. Like this:
Meretz USA supports the principle of separation of religion and state and believes that religion should be a matter of personal conscience. The Israeli government should therefore end discrimination aimed at the different streams of Judaism and abolish religious coercion...
Meretz USA seeks to preserve and strengthen the democratic character of Israeli society as envisioned by its Zionist founders. This means ending discrimination against Israel's Arab minority without further delay, narrowing the social and economic gap that continues to separate Ashkenazi Jews from Middle Eastern and Ethiopian Jews, securing equal rights for lesbians and gays, and achieving full equality for Israeli women.
[T]he New Israel Fund advances civil rights and social justice for all Israelis, and believes the only secure Israel is a just Israel...As a nation with many disadvantaged minority groups, from citizen Arabs to Ethiopians to Mizrachim, Israel has a special responsibility to observe its founders' vision and values of "freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel."...
NIF has long been a principal supporter of a pluralistic and tolerant Israeli culture that includes diverse approaches to Judaism and Jewish identity.
(Those quotes come from the two organizations' "about us" pages: About Meretz USA, About NIF.) It seems to me that both organizations seek to demonstrate that there's no necessary disjunction between being a Zionist and being a staunch supporter of "peace, pluralism, and democracy." Indeed, I suspect they would argue that the desire for social justice is a clear outgrowth of Jewish tradition, and that the current Middle East situation is broken and in need of repair. If this kind of thing is up your alley, check these blogs out.