Those who advocate for Israel must distinguish between dissent and delegitimization. It's a distinction we all need to understand at a time when Israel is being vilified and ostracized abroad -- and here at home.
The signs are all around, from international resolutions to deny our historic link to ancestral Jewish sites to an absurd local effort to boycott hummus at a local grocer in West Philadelphia (story on Page 10).
We are not a monolithic community when it comes to most issues. Last week's elections only reaffirm that truth. We have individual takes on everything from health care to what's best for Israel. We as a community are strong enough to tolerate a wide tent, and we should be smart enough to understand that inclusion along the political and ideological spectrum strengthens rather than weakens us.
But when it comes to Israel, there has to be a basic bottom line -- and that is a commitment to the survival and flourishing of Israel as a Jewish state. In our community and beyond, that must be the one essential ingredient upon which we all agree in order to qualify as pro-Israel.
We're used to non-Jewish attacks against Israel. Think Kaukab Siddique, the Lincoln University professor whose odious remarks about destroying Israel and denying the Holocaust continue to create waves.
But what do we make of Jews who also cross the line? Those who advocate the delegitimization of Israel through boycotts, divestment and sanctions, who worry about human rights for the Palestinians over existential rights for Israel?
Many wonder how Jews, of all people, can lack that basic sensibility. How calling for the boycott of Israeli academics and artists can in any way contribute to the cause of peace?
A group of young Jews caused a stir at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America this week when they disrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the delegates in New Orleans. They identified themselves as members of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that the Anti-Defamation League recently listed as one of the top 10 anti-Israel groups in America.
The question is: Where do these Jews stand on this rubicon? Are they dissenters or denyers of Israel's right to exist? Ironically, the brouhaha occurred at the very gathering that launched the Israel Action Network, a multimillion-dollar communal campaign to confront efforts to demonize Israel head on.
We have to be careful not to lump all dissenters with delegitimizers, distinguishing between those who are critical of a particular Israeli policy and those who wouldn't blink if Israel as a Jewish state would disappear tomorrow. It's this second group that poses the greatest threat -- and against whom we must unite.