Let’s face it, it has been a terrible summer. Even for those of us lucky enough not to have had to mourn the personal loss of a loved one, this summer of war has taken an emotional and mental toll much greater than many of us initially admitted. The spirit was one of “a stiff upper lip”, but nerves were frayed and, in between the sirens, few of us were able to do anything more then stay glued to the television.
During the war, many in Israel and around the world mobilized to stand up for Israel and Jews living in the Diaspora and to defend Israel’s basic right of self defense in the “other” war – the war that was taking place in the media. I joined the effort and, in addition to numerous appearances on Israeli television, I spoke to news outlets such as BBC , CBC , ABC, and Skynews . I also ventured into hostile territory to give interviews to Al Jazeera and Russia Today in order to ensure that everyone understand Israel’s right to defend herself from attacks.
One of the main issues to emerge from the war is a far broader recognition that UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) is basically a Palestinian organization committed to the political mission of Palestinian “return” and the idea of a “greater Palestine,” rather than the humanitarian organization it claims to be. I discussed this issue at length in Hebrew in the Israeli media, which finally turned an important spotlight on this issue, on Channel 2 , 10 and 20 ; in English on the Voice of Israel and in the Jerusalem Post Magazine in a piece titled ” The Problem of UNRWA ” ; as well as at a special event held inside the UN building regarding this issue and in this op-ed published in the New York Post ; and more recently in a much shared op-ed in which I call on Israel “to recognize UNRWA for what it is — a hostile Palestinian organization that perpetuates the dream of the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel — and treat it accordingly ”.
But, even if the violence of the summer is now at bay, the war of words and ideas waged against Israel continues to rage on. I recently spoke about the nature of this war and how we can win it . I explained that winning this war is not just about the emergency mobilization during times of war, but it requires “explaining the ideas and circumstances that formed the foundation of Israel’s existence”, as discussed in my piece describing my work as a “roving ambassador for Israel” .
Indeed, writing about Zionism, the nature of Israel – its past and its future – is one aspect of my work in which I invest the most amount of time, and I am proud to share with you two major pieces that I published on the Zionist story. The first is a piece, which Ambassador Michel Oren called “not only the best review of both Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers and Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land , but also the most thoughtful article on Israel that I have read in some time”. The second piece titled “Towards a Zionism of Inclusion ” argues that, “Zionism was, is, and will likely continue to be, on a steady trajectory of increasing inclusiveness. Contrary to those who say Zionism is an exclusivist ideology, from the moment of its foundation it was one of the world’s most inclusive national and political movements.”
As Fall is finally in the air, we can begin to cautiously look forward to a better year ahead. With the Jewish holidays around the corner, and this “hot” summer finally behind us, it is with great intent and hope that we can all wish each other Shana Tova.