Israel Advocacy class discusses facts and issues

by | Nov 8, 2013 | Other News

What should an advocate of Israel say when someone who knows very little about the country asks about its legitimacy? The answer to this basic question, according to Mark Solberg and Sandra Haas-Radin, Ph. D., is intricately tied to Israel’s history and political climate, which is why they devoted four two-hour sessions on “the ABCs” of being an advocate for Israel at the Simon Family JCC over the last two months.

Designed to give each participant the information needed to be a knowledgeable defender of the State of Israel, these classes were presented by the JCC’s Jewish Life and Learning department.

Some of the most important messages of the class were:
• Israel has a historical, legal and moral right to exist as a Jewish State.
• Israel does not deny the “national rights” of the Palestinian people, and has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to share the land. Mainstream Zionism has accepted in good faith (or initiated) every proposal for a “two-state solution” that has ever been put forward.
• The Palestinian nationalist movement has never accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and has responded to every settlement proposal with categorical rejection and extreme violence.
• The Palestinian nationalist movement views the intentional targeting and murder of Israeli civilians as a legitimate and heroic tactic to advance their political agenda.
• Israel has less than one half of one percent of the land in the Arabian Peninsula.
• Muslims outnumber Jews 100:1 worldwide, which is a large factor in the frequent United Nations Sanction votes against Israel.

“Israel is always painted as the aggressor, when their human rights record is actually one of the best in the world,” says Haas-Radin.

“We designed our class so that students can respond not only to lies about Israel, but also to steer the conversation towards understanding the justice of Israel’s position,” says Solberg, who believes that until the Palestinian Nationalist movement renounces terrorism and accepts Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, there will be no progress towards peace.

Solberg says that “students need to know not just the facts, but also where to go with these facts.” And that’s what the class syllabus set out to accomplish. The first three classes, in lecture format with question and answer periods at the end, changed on the final night, when students discussed with their “classmates” in small groups, acting as actual advocates for Israel armed with facts and knowledge.

“We have to worry about getting the facts out in such a way that people know that Israel is not the aggressor,” says Haas-Radin.

“I found this class beyond invaluable,” says student Janet Kass. “There is so much information that is not shared and there is so much misinformation out there. I was also delighted to see the non-Jewish presence in this class. They are among our best advocates.”

“We hope that these classes are of interest to the community and that we therefore can continue to run classes such as these in the years to come,” says Miriam Brunn Ruberg, director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Simon Family JCC. For more information about these and other Jewish education classes for adults, contact her at or 321-2328.

The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

by Leslie Shroyer