This week, I proudly took up the mantle of Executive Director of Meretz USA. I’d like to take a few moments to explain why I’m so excited to be a part of this organization.
If a stranger were to challenge me to explain Meretz USA in one short sentence, I would say, simply, that Meretz USA stands for a progressive Israel. All the rest, to paraphrase the legendary Rabbi Hillel, is just the details.
Of course, in order for Israel to be progressive, it first needs to maintain its existence. Meretz USA stands for an Israel whose existence is secure from external threat, and which coexists with its neighbors. Recognizing that peace, not territorial expansion, is the ultimate guarantor of security, Meretz USA supports a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict in accordance with the principle of land-for-peace, and based on the pre-war 1967 lines, except where the parties to the conflict negotiate territorial exchanges.
But Meretz USA, like the Meretz party in Israel, understands that the issue of peace and security – though fundamental – is not Israel’s only challenge. As Israel approaches its 60th “birthday” this May, we look forward to the implementation in practice of Israel’s Megilat Ha’Atzma’ut, its Declaration of Independence, which promised, “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex,” and pledged “full and equal citizenship” for the country’s Arab citizens.
Meretz USA longs for the day when the “freedom of religion” promised in the Megilat Ha’Atzma’ut is manifested in an Israel in which all streams of Judaism – Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Secular, and not only Orthodox – are allowed, indeed encouraged, to blossom and thrive.
Meretz USA also understands that one of the ultimate challenges of the 21st century is to sustain planet Earth. That’s why we note with admiration that it was the Meretz party that first introduced an environmental perspective to Israeli politics and applaud the party’s recent commitment to a “Green Code of Conduct”.
As an American Jew and as a citizen of the USA and Israel, I’m proud to be part of an organization that gives expression to the many progressive forces in Israel striving for peace, equal rights, social justice, religious pluralism and environmental sustainability. These are the causes that I believe in, they’re the causes that Meretz USA supports, and I hope you support them as well. I look forward to your continued support as we work to spread our message in the weeks and months ahead, and I welcome your ideas and suggestions to help us make that happen.
Next week, I will be going to Israel on Meretz USA’s annual mission, our “Israel Symposium”. I will share my impressions with you upon my return.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year,