‘Israel Is a Fortress, but Not Yet a Home’: David Grossman’s Memorial Day Speech to Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians – Haaretz

David Grossman

Author David Grossman, whose son Uri was killed in the 2006 Lebanon War and who on Thursday will be awarded the 2018 Israel Prize for Literature, addressed bereaved Israelis and Palestinians at an alternative Memorial Day event on April 17, 2018. Below is the full text of his speech.

“Dear friends, good evening.

There is a lot of noise and commotion around our ceremony, but we do not forget that above all, this is a ceremony of remembrance and communion. The noise, even if it is present, is beyond us now, because at the heart of this evening there is a deep silence — the silence of the void created by loss.

My family and I lost Uri in the war, a young, sweet, smart and funny man. Almost twelve years later it is still hard for me to talk about him publicly.

The death of a loved one is actually also the death of a private, whole, personal and unique culture, with its own special language and its own secret, and it will never be again, nor will there be another like it.

It is indescribably painful to face that decisive ‘no.’ There are moments when it almost sucks into it all the ‘have’ and all the ‘yes.’ It is difficult and exhausting to constantly fight against the gravity of loss.

It is difficult to separate the memory from the pain. It hurts to remember, but it is even more frightening to forget. And how easy it is, in this situation, to give in to hate, rage, and the will to avenge.

But I find that every time I am tempted by rage and hate, I immediately feel that I am losing the living contact with my son. Something there is sealed. And I came to my decision, I made my choice. And I think that those who are here this evening — made that same choice.

And I know that within the pain there is also breath, creation, doing good. That grief does not isolate but also connects and strengthens. Here, even old enemies — Israelis and Palestinians — can connect with each other out of grief, and even because of it.

I have met quite a few bereaved families over these past years. I told them, in my experience, that even when you are at the heart of the pain you should remember that every member of the family is allowed to grieve the way they want, the way they are, and the way their soul tells them to.

No one can instruct another person how to grieve. It’s true for a private family, and it’s true for the larger ‘bereaved family.’

There is a strong feeling that connects us, a feeling of a joint fate, and the pain that only we know, for which there are almost no words out there, in the light. That is why, if the definition of a ‘bereaved family’ is genuine and honest, please respect our way. It deserves respect. It is not an easy path, it is not obvious, and it is not without its internal contradictions. But it is our way to give meaning to the death of our loved ones, and to our lives after their death. And it is our way to act, to do — not to despair and not to desist — so that one day, in the future, the war will fade, and maybe cease completely, and we will start living, living a full life, and not just subsisting from war to war, from disaster to disaster.

We, Israelis and Palestinians, who in the wars between us have lost those dearer to us, perhaps, than our own lives — we are doomed to touch reality through an open wound. Those wounded like that can no longer foster illusions. Those wounded like that know how much life is made up of great concessions, of endless compromise.

I think that grief makes us, those who are here tonight into more realistic people. We are clear-eyed, for example, about things relating to the limits of power, relating to the illusions that always accompany the one with the power.

And we are warier, more than we were before the disaster, and are filled with loathing every time we recognize a display of empty pride, or slogans of arrogant nationalism, or leaders’ haughty statements. We are more than wary: we are practically allergic. This week, Israel is celebrating 70 years. I hope we will celebrate many more years and many more generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who will live here alongside an independent Palestinian state, safely, peacefully and creatively, and — most importantly — in a serene daily routine, in good neighborliness; and they will feel at home here.

What is a home?

Home is a place whose walls — borders — are clear and accepted; whose existence is stable, solid, and relaxed; whose inhabitants know its intimate codes; whose relations with its neighbors have been settled. It projects a sense of the future.

And we Israelis, even after 70 years — no matter how many words dripping with patriotic honey will be uttered in the coming days — we are not yet there. We are not yet home. Israel was established so that the Jewish people, who have nearly never felt at-home-in-the-world, would finally have a home. And now, 70 years later, strong Israel may be a fortress, but it is not yet a home.

The solution to the great complexity of Israeli-Palestinian relations can be summed up in one short formula: if the Palestinians don’t have a home, the Israelis won’t have a home either.

The opposite is also true: if Israel will not be a home, then neither will Palestine.

I have two granddaughters, they are 6 and 3 years old. To them, Israel is self-evident. It is obvious to them that we have a state, that there are roads and schools and hospitals and a computer at kindergarten, and a living, rich Hebrew language.

I belong to a generation where none of these things are taken for granted, and that is the place from which I speak to you. From the fragile place that vividly remembers the existential fear, as well as the strong hope that now, finally, we have come home.

But when Israel occupies and oppresses another nation, for 51 years, and creates an apartheid reality in the occupied territories — it becomes a lot less of a home.

And when Minister of Defense Lieberman decides to prevent peace-loving Palestinians from attending a gathering like ours, Israel is less of a home.

When Israeli snipers kill dozens of Palestinian protesters, most of them civilians — Israel is less of a home.

And when the Israeli government attempts to improvise questionable deals with Uganda and Rwanda, and is willing to endanger the lives of thousands of asylum seekers and expel them to the unknown — to me, it is less of a home.

And when the prime minister defames and incites against human rights organizations, and when he is looking for ways to enact laws that bypass the High Court of Justice, and when democracy and the courts are constantly challenged, Israel becomes even a little less of a home —for everyone.

When Israel neglects and discriminates against residents on the fringes of society; when it abandons and continuously weakens the residents of southern Tel Aviv; when it hardens its heart to the plight of the weak and voiceless — Holocaust survivors, the needy, single-parent families, the elderly, boarding houses for children removed from their homes, and crumbling hospitals — it is less of a home. It is a dysfunctional home.

And when it neglects and discriminates against 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel; when it practically forfeits the great potential they have for a shared life here — it is less of a home — both for the minority and the majority.

And when Israel strips away the Jewishness of millions of Reform and Conservative Jews — again it becomes less of a home. And every time artists and creators have to prove — in their creations — loyalty and obedience, not only to the state but to the ruling party — Israel is less of a home.

Israel is painful for us. Because it is not the home we want it to be. We acknowledge the great and wonderful thing that happened to us, by having a state, and we are proud of its accomplishments in many areas, in industry and agriculture, in culture and art, in I.T. and medicine and economics. But we also feel the pain of its distortion.

And the people and organizations who are here today, especially the Family Forum and Combatants For Peace, and many more like them, are perhaps the ones who contribute most to making Israel a home, in the fullest sense of the word.

And I want to say here, that half of the money from the Israel Prize that I will be receiving the day after tomorrow, I intend to donate and divide between the Family Forum and the Elifelet organization, which looks after the children of asylum seekers — those whose kindergartens are nicknamed “children’s warehouses”. To me, these are groups who do sacred work, or rather — do the simply human things that the government itself should be doing.


Where we will live a peace and safe life; a clear life; a life that will not be enslaved — by fanatics of all kinds — for the purposes of some total, messianic, and nationalist vision. Home, whose inhabitants will not be the material that ignites a principle greater than them, and supposedly beyond their comprehension. That life in it would be measured in its humanity. That suddenly a nation will wake up in the morning, and see that it is human. And that that human will feel that he is living in an uncorrupted, connected, truly egalitarian, non-aggressive and non-covetous place. In a state that runs simply on the concern for the person living within it, for every person living within it, out of compassion, and out of tolerance for all the many dialectics of ‘being Israeli’. Because ‘These are the living words of Israel’.

A state that will act, not on momentary impulses; not in endless convulsions of tricks and winks and manipulations; and police investigations, and zig-zags, and flip-flops backwards. In general — I wish our government to be less devious and wiser. One can dream. One can also admire achievements. Israel is worth fighting for. I also wish these things for our Palestinian friends: a life of independence, freedom and peace, and building a new, reformed nation. And I wish that in 70 years’ time our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, both Palestinian and Israeli, will stand here and each will sing their version of their national anthem.

But there is one line that they will be able to sing together, in Hebrew and Arabic: “To be a free nation in our land,” and then maybe, at last, it will be a realistic and accurate description, for both nations.”




Palestinian’s “March of Return” to Gaza Fence and Israel’s Response

Palestinians are now marching with the intent to enter Israel through the Gaza fence every Friday until May 15 corresponding to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and to their “Naqba” (The Great Catastrophe). They have done this twice already.

The first week’s demonstration included about thirty thousand Palestinians. Despite the demonstrations being billed as non-violent protests, some Palestinians (stirred up by Hamas) threw rocks at Israeli soldiers and set fire to tires thereby obscuring the view with smoke for Israeli shooters to see the perpetrators of violence. Israeli commanders told their shooters to fire warning shots in the air, then shoot in the dirt, and finally at Palestinian legs. Israeli snipers killed between 15 and 20 Palestinians and injured close to 1400.

On the second Friday there were fewer protestors, perhaps between ten and twenty thousand. The Palestinians called it a “Day of Tires” (note the photo of the massive amount of smoke). Israeli shooters killed nine Palestinians, including one journalist wearing a journalist vest.

To date, about thirty Palestinians are dead.

What’s going on? Israel has a right to defend itself but the death of unarmed Palestinians ought to be of great concern to all Jews in Israel and around the world.

The Israeli human rights organization B’tzelem called upon Israeli soldiers to defy orders to shoot unarmed Palestinians. All Israeli political parties refrained from protesting Israel’s actions except the Arab list and the left-wing Zionist party Meretz. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman charged that “Meretz has stopped representing the State of Israel and now represents Arab interests in the Knesset.”

What disturbs me is that Israelis and we American Jews have become so numbed to violence of this kind that we refrain from protesting the deaths of innocent Palestinians. We would not so refrain if the dead were Israelis.

Again, we don’t know if the shootings are wrong and we don’t know how difficult it is for the IDF to monitor the border, but B’tzelem isn’t wrong to encourage Israeli soldiers to refrain from firing on unarmed people even if they are ordered to do so.  There are lots of other means of crowd control available to Israel than shooting with live ammunition.

Is Israel’s sense of the threat these Palestinian protests pose exaggerated? It may be that the shootings are meant to discourage future non-violent Palestinian demonstrations because the Israeli government doesn’t quite know how to handle them.

The Israeli Defense Forces have the duty to protect the State of Israel, but is the IDF doing it the right way? In Israel, there’s an ethical code that encourages soldiers not to follow unethical orders, and especially when orders are given to fire on unarmed Palestinians.

I would hope that every Palestinian killing is investigated by the IDF and if wrong-doing is discovered, those guilty are punished.

The Reform Movement’s Statement on Israel’s 70th Anniversary

April 18, 2018 – The statement below is issued by the organizations of the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest movement in Jewish life:

“We join with our Israeli brothers and sisters, the worldwide family of the Jewish people, and friends of Israel everywhere, to mark with joy the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.  

We take this moment to renew and reaffirm our Movement-wide commitment to ahavat Yisrael (love for the land and people of Israel), through our words, by personally studying and traveling in Israel, and by providing financial and political support to the State of Israel and our partners there. We work every day to defend Israel when she comes under attack, and we play a key role in advancing the crucial relationships between Israel and the countries in which we serve.  

We know this to be true: The State of Israel represents the greatest achievement of modern Jewish history, reuniting millions with the land that gave birth to the faith and people of Israel. Following nearly 1900 years of exile – centuries of persecution and expulsion, that culminated in eras of both catastrophe and creative growth and innovation – the Jewish people are again sovereign on Jewish soil.  

As the Declaration of Independence states, the establishment of the State of Israel “is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.” The Zionist dream has been fulfilled with the ingathering of Jews who sought refuge and fulfillment in a land holy to our people, and is continually renewed by ongoing technological, medical, and economic miracles. We are continually inspired by Israeli creativity and contributions to Jewish life and culture. We will not yield in our pledge to strengthen our ties to the Jewish state and to be strengthened by her.  

Across her first seven decades, Israel frequently has been forced to defend herself against stronger and more numerous enemies that have sought her destruction. Israel has sacrificed for peace while maintaining the only democracy in the Middle East. At this critical milestone in Israel and Jewish history, we recommit to working for a secure and just Israel that exists side-by-side with a future state of Palestine. Additionally, we must work for the future, securing an Israel that fulfills the aspiration of its Declaration of Independence as Israel’s founders imagined when they wrote that the Jewish State will “uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed, or sex.” As tireless advocates for religious pluralism, we recognize that religious equality has been far too elusive for Israel’s growing Reform and Conservative Jewish movements and we remain committed to an Israeli society that recognizes the rights of all Jewish movements – and all Jews. 

In the presence of both triumph and challenge, hope remains our compass. Today, we join with Jews throughout the world, celebrating joyously this milestone anniversary of Israel’s independence. We pray for the fulfillment of Israel’s promise as a thriving democracy, an exemplar of security and peace, a beacon of light and hope for all the world. “

American Conference of Cantors
Association of Reform Jewish Educators
Association of Reform Zionists of America
ARZA Canada
ARZENU – International Reform Zionist Movement
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Men of Reform Judaism
National Association for Temple Administration
NFTY – The Reform Jewish Youth Movement
Program and Engagement Professionals of Reform Judaism
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Union for Reform Judaism
Women of Reform Judaism
World Union for Progressive Judaism


The Bitter and the Sweet – Naomi Shemer

Naomi Shemer’s beautiful song Al Kol Eleh (“For all these things”) was written after the Yom Kippur War. It remains one of my favorite Hebrew poems and Israeli songs.

23,646 Israelis have died defending the State of Israel, and many more injured. Trumpeldor put it poignantly before he was killed in the early 20th century – “Tov lamut b’ad Arzenu – It is good to die for our Land.” His courage, the courage of these Israeli martyrs, and the ultimate sacrifice that they gave to build and secure the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland will be forever impressed upon the memory of our people. Zichronam livracha – May they all be remembered for a blessing!

Yom Haatzmaut-Israel Independence Day is a time for massive Jewish celebration even with all the challenges internal and external that Israel and the Jewish people continue to face. Shemer’s words ring true and whenever I hear this song, my heart at once breaks and is fortified.

“Every bee that brings the honey / Needs a sting to be complete / And we all must learn to taste the bitter with the sweet.

Keep, oh Lord, the fire burning / Through the night and through the day / For the man who is returning / from so far away.

Don’t uproot what has been planted / So our bounty may increase / Let our dearest wish be granted: / Bring us peace, oh bring us peace.

For the sake of all these things, Lord, / Let your mercy be complete
Bless the sting and bless the honey / Bless the bitter and the sweet.

Save the houses that we live in / The small fences and the wall / From the sudden war-like thunder / May you save them all.

Guard what little I’ve been given / Guard the hill my child might climb / Let the fruit that’s yet to ripen / Not be plucked before its time.

As the wind makes rustling night sounds / And a star falls in its arc / All my dreams and my desires  / Form crystal shapes out of the dark.

Guard for me, oh Lord, these treasures / All my friends keep safe and strong, Guard the stillness, guard the weeping, / And above all, guard this song.”


“Zionism was once a pretty young thing…” Aharon Shabtai

As Yom Haatzmaut (Israel’s 70th Anniversary approaches) I offer this poem (and more to come throughout this week) to express both the beauty our people have brought to world Jewry as well as the moral and ethical challenges that come with sovereignty.

This poem written by the Israeli poet  Aharon Shabtai expresses the aspirations of Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and the political means by which Israel may enhance the dignity of all the people of the Land.

“Zionism was once a pretty young thing / like my cousin Tsila. / Boys caught sight of (her) – / and were ready to die. / Ahh, what days we spent among the cypresses / not far from Wadi Faleek! / What proud, honest mounds of manure I lifted / with Joseph Mintser at Kibbutz Merhavyah! / But political theses can turn into stinking corpses too, / And it’s better to leave them behind – / before we sink into an ethical mire – / In order to take up a new idea that might enlist / the stores of goodness within our hearts: / Namely, that equal rights be granted / to the children of this land as one, / That two cultures should flourish with dignity, / side by side, like beds in a single garden. / Let this be the girl whose beauty thrills us / And about whom we dream towards the summer’s end, / and through the months of winter.”

Aharon Shabtai (b. 1939)

We Jews are always betwixt and between – especially in these days

Last week the Jewish people commemorated Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), and this Thursday we Jews mourn those killed defending the people and State of Israel on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day). On Friday, we turn our mourning into celebration on Yom Haatzmaut (Israel’s 70th Anniversary of Independence).

Throughout the week I will offer poetry that evokes the essence of these days. Here are words of the Russian Jewish poet Shaul Tschernichovsky  (1875 – 1943):

“Laugh, smile upon the dreams / It is I, the dreamer, who is speaking / Laugh, for I still believe in humankind / for I still believe in you.

For my soul still yearns for freedom / I have not sold it to a golden calf / For I still believe in humankind /  in his strong spirit.

I believe also in the future / even if the day will tarry / Yet, it will come and nation from nation / will carry peace and blessing.”

Human Rights Organizations in response to the release of the refugees from Saharonim prison

“Today’s announcement that the 200+ refugees detained in Saharonim for resisting deportation shows that the government’s plan to forcibly deport refugees to Uganda has fallen apart. We call on the government to stop promoting policies for political gain which endanger the lives of asylum seekers.
The Israeli government must adopt real solutions for asylum seekers and stop its abuse of those who seek protection. Israel can and should absorb the asylum seekers who sought protection here by creating a fair migration policy, a functioning asylum system, dispersing the refugee population around the country and investing in South Tel Aviv.”
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, ASSAF – Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, Kav LaOved, the Association for civil rights in Israel (ACRI) and the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC)

Ruvi Rivlin gets everyone singing

This Facebook video is beyond charming. Ruvi Rivlin, the President of the State of Israel, decides to get the people of Israel singing in anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. His big heart and joyfulness abound.


He explains that music brings everyone together.

“Words words words – blah blah blah – too many words.”

Ruvi and all that he picks up along the way in his offices sing together the famous song “Al Kol Eleh” (“Over all these things…”) made famous by Israeli poet/songwriter Naomi Shemer.

In the middle of Beit Hanasi (the President’s House in Jerusalem) he stops and says: “Wait – this isn’t enough!” The entire people of Israel have to join and sing too, so he invites everyone to sing – the secular and religious, Arabs and Jews, young and old, men and women and children. He asks they everyone put all else aside and come together as one.

“Over the honey and the stinger
Over the bitter and the sweet
Over our daughter, our baby
My God, watch over what is good

Over the flame that is burning
Over the water running pure
Over the man returning home
from far away

Over all these, Over all these
God please watch over them for me,
Over the honey and the stinger
Over the bitter and the sweet

Do not uproot what is planted
Do not forget the hope
Return me, and I will return
to the good land.

Watch over this house for me, my God,
the garden, and the wall
protect them from pain, from sudden fear
and from war.

Watch over for me the little I have
the light, the baby.”
over the fruit that has not ripened
and over what has already been reaped.


“The Lonely Man of Faith” – New York Magazine

This is an important article not only because it profiles Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the American Reform movement so well, but it articulates the progressive liberal Zionism that is the hallmark of Reform Judaism. The American Reform movement represents about 1.5 million American Jews.

This is an important read, and I hope you will take the time to read it.

The Lonely Man of Faith, New York Magazine

Abraham Riesman profiles Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.


“Mr. Prime Minister – I am ashamed of you” – Rabbi Donniel Hartman

Note: The following is a blog posted today on the Times of Israel site. Rabbi Donniel Hartman is the Director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. His integrity is beyond reproach and never takes partisan positions. Rather, he speaks from the heart of Jewish tradition and always with thoughtfulness and a moral sensibility. Rabbi Hartman’s letter is written in the spirit of the Biblical prophet who criticizes power when leaders of our people’s morality goes awry.

April 9, 2018, 3:19 pm

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

It’s not easy to be both proud and ashamed at the same time. As a politician, it is particularly difficult, as protecting yourself from constant criticism is a prerequisite of the job.

As prime minister, you have much to be proud of, both personally and nationally. You have navigated our country through perilous times and circumstances. As we approach our 70th birthday, we do so with confidence and joy, for Israel is strong and secure, prosperous and successful. The source of your political success and longevity is that so many Israelis feel indebted to you and feel secure because of your leadership.

However, together with your well-deserved pride, you should also feel a measure of shame. It seems like a lifetime, but it was less than a week ago, that you forged a new low. Instead of embracing the moral high ground on the issue of the African refugees in Israel and following through on what was your negotiated agreement with the United Nations, you chose the path of moral obtuseness, while making sure to lay the blame on others. Such actions, although common in our world, are not worthy of Israel and the Jewish people.

Shame on you for turning human rights discourse in Israel into a political football, dividing the Left and the Right. Shame on you for peddling fear to buttress your political standing. Shame on you for singling out false enemies for vilification to galvanize national loyalty and self-righteousness.

Your morally bankrupt rhetoric, branding all asylum seekers as “infiltrators,” instead of allowing that, at the very least, some are refugees, and supporting the false claims that they pose a danger to the Jewishness of Israel and the well-being of southern Tel Aviv, caught up with you. Or more correctly, infected us all.

When you propagate fear and hatred of so many different “others,” and employ fake enemies to encourage phony nationalist sentiments, it is indeed difficult to turn around and admit that the strong and vibrant Israel you helped to produce has nothing to fear from 16,000, 26,000, or even 36,000 refugees. It is difficult, even during Pesach last week, to speak of our people’s responsibility to remember that we were slaves in the land of Egypt.

Fear and hatred are cancerous, and once introduced into the national discourse, have a destructive life of their own. While you have mastered their political use, as we saw last week, they have become your masters.

For the sake of a short-term high as the proclaimed “protector of Israel,” “lover of Jews,” and “the one who cares about the disadvantaged neighborhoods,” you were willing to throw the lives of tens of thousands of human beings into chaos and turmoil and yet again divide the Jewish people. You know that the Supreme Court will challenge any policy of forced expulsion, further weakening it, and will also lead to extensive divisiveness, both within Israel and among the Jewish people.

Tomorrow’s problems, however, are not allowed by you to outweigh a bump in the polls, today. This is doubly true, when tomorrow you, or your coalition partners, can transform the Supreme Court itself into the enemy du jour of Israel and Zionism, and blame all of poor Government of Israel’s problems on all-powerful foreign conspirators, such as the New Israel Fund.

The Bibi of just a few years ago would be ashamed. It was you who in your previous terms served as the ultimate protector of the Supreme Court, the rule of law, and the unity of the Jewish people. In the past, these were values that you held as central to Israel. Today, outside of national security and preserving your coalition, it is difficult to identify anything that you hold as holy.

When you withdrew your support for your resolution, you knew that Friday was but a few days away, and that you could count on Hamas and Gaza to change the focus of our national discourse. You knew that the next car-ramming in Europe or gas attack on innocent civilians in Syria were but a few news cycles away. Who could reasonably criticize you for deporting a few Africans, when our country and soldiers are facing a new threat from Gaza? Who can criticize you as morally wanting, when such moral depravity surrounds us? Only an anti-Semite or an anti-Zionist, of course.

As Israelis we live in a macabre reality. Together with our well-deserved sense of strength, prosperity, and success, we know that danger and instability constantly threaten us. Be it Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranians in Syria, or lone wolf Palestinian terrorists, we live with the ever-present sense that somebody wants to kill us. Someone sees our destruction as their principal mission. I don’t know of any other Western democracy whose citizens have to live with this consciousness, daily. Most Israelis trust you, Mr. Prime Minister, above all others, to help navigate us through this treacherous reality. In truth, much of that trust has been earned and well-deserved.

Israel, however, does not merely have to learn how to survive in the Middle East, but also survive the Middle East itself. Remaining a liberal democracy and a Jewish and democratic state and upholding our commitments to human rights and the Jewish values of peace, justice, freedom, and equality, as outlined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, is a challenging task in today’s Middle East. It is difficult to achieve and even more difficult to continue to care. However, after survival, doing precisely that is Israel’s greatest challenge and responsibility.

Israel needs a leader and not merely a politician. A leader provides vision and challenges the people to expend resources for the sake of their values. A leader inspires sacrifice for a greater cause. A leader also experiences shame when they fail in their responsibilities.

There are voices in Israel and in the Jewish world who, after your debacle last week, expressed shame in Israel. I am not ashamed of Israel. Israel and Zionism transcend our political leaders and are not defined even by the current will of the majority. Israel embodies the mission to build a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people which is committed to the noblest of Jewish, moral, and democratic principles. I am not ashamed of Israel, because we are in the middle of Zionism’s journey, a journey undertaken under the most challenging of circumstances.

Mr. Prime Minister, I am not ashamed of Israel. I am ashamed of you.