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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Notes on Today's Speech By Dr. Tal Becker

Dr. Tal Becker, a prominent thinker and adviser to Israel, gave today's speech in synagogue (B'nai Israel, Rockville, MD). 

Overall my takeaway was: good that we are talking about a positive message and identity for Israel rather than a victim-y one. Bad that there was no mention of G-d in this message.

But many good points:

1. Israel's need for a "sovereign state of mind": There is a difference between having a state, and thinking like one. Elements of a sovereign state of mind:

a. Overcoming the synagogue mentality:  When it comes to synagogue, each individual member tends to want the shul to "conform to their specific requirements." Israel needs to get away from that tribal mindset. Talked about growing up in Australia and going to the shul specifically established by the Auschwitz survivors, and then there was a breakaway shul from that.

b. Commonality: Israel often feels like "what's left over" after each "tribe" has tried to pull the country totally in its own direction. Need to create a national environment where we are all one even if I vehemently disagree with you.

c. Metric for success: Things are getting better. Not that things are perfect.

2. Getting out of crisis mode: The mood at AIPAC was one of worry. Anxiety is the Jewish mode of approaching Israel. The shtetl Jew transported to Israel. But fear is not an inspiring, engaging, productive message for the next generation. 

3. What are we striving for? Articulate it to engage: To be "safe, normal and exceptional."

a. Safe means an end to being victimized by antisemites. Not there yet, but progress. 

b. Normal means relationships and trade with other countries, which is the case with 161 out of 194 (my best recollection of what he said).

c.  Exceptional means that the Land, its inhabitants, its culture and its achievements are wondrous, amazing, something you have to see and experience for yourself.

4. The difference between messianic thinking (everything will be perfect tomorrow) and state-oriented thinking (let's roll up our sleeves and make things better now). An awesome opportunity we have as the State exists.

5. American Jews are a minority that feels and acts like a comfortable majority. Israelis are a majority that feel and act like a minority.

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All opinions my own.