In your interview with Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni (“We’re Changing The Conversation About Israel,” July 12), he suggests that teaching college students about Israel’s leadership in science, medicine and technology is the “magic bullet” to improving Israel’s public image on campus. Such a suggestion is vastly divorced from the reality facing Jewish college students.
Though Jewish students on campus may find Israel’s technological advances impressive, they cannot substitute an honest and rigorous conversation about Israel and Israeli policy towards the Palestinians — the good and the ugly. Aharoni is right that there is a change in how this generation of Jews see Israel. However, this relationship is not based on “relevance and opportunity.” It is based on liberal values, a commitment to democracy and a desire for peace for us and for our children. And, unlike the generations before us, we refuse to leave these values at the door when it comes to Israel. Thus, when we question the right-wing Netanyahu government’s decisions to expedite settlement construction, only to turn around and see the organized Jewish community divert these questions into a conversation about Israeli ingenuity, we question why our parents and leaders are shying away from the difficult questions.
Indeed, is the true Israel so flawed that we must look beyond its government and toward its technological advances? It is time for the organized Jewish community to heed my generation’s call for an honest conversation about Israel. Mr. Aharoni’s “Brand Israel” campaign is not the place to start.