If you read any book this year on the American Jewish community and its relationship to the State of Israel, let it be Jeremy Ben-Ami’s A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation.

This book is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in the long term survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Jeremy writes clearly about who we are as a people, what we have become and where we have to go in order for Israel to fulfill its own Declaration of Independence as an embodiment of the prophetic vision that we be an or lagoyim, a light to the nations. Jeremy’s views are at once cogent, pragmatic, seasoned, nuanced, realistic, rational, moral, emotional, and visionary. In reading this book, which I finished this morning, I found myself nodding in agreement on virtually every page.

Jeremy writes of his own personal history (so the book is part memoir), and that of his grandparents who made aliyah in 1882 and settled in Petach Tikvah, and his parents. His father became a follower of the revisionist leader Zev Jabotinsky and later of Menachem Begin, and was aboard the Altalena ship when Ben Gurion ordered an attack upon it.

As it happens, my own family history intersects with Jeremy’s in those earliest of years of Zionist settlement. My great-great uncle, Avram Shapira, known as the Shomer of Petach Tikva (he was the first Jewish policemen anywhere in Palestine), also with his family made aliyah in 1878 from the Crimea, settled for 2 years in the Old City of Jerusalem (there wasn’t a “new city” at that time) before moving in 1880 to Petach Tikvah when only 3 other families lived there.  I met Uncle Avram at the age of 7 in 1956 when he visited our family in Los Angeles, but that is a story for another blog. I’m delighted by this connection with Jeremy and his family.

Jeremy’s book will mark, in my view, a turning point in the conversation between American Jews and Israelis, even as his creation of J Street has transformed the dynamics of American Jewish political life. Yasher koach to him and to the legions now joining this movement that he has inspired.

You can order the book on-line at Amazon. No, I receive no kick-backs for recommending it, just the satisfaction in knowing that if you read it, you will begin to understand what is at stake in a new way and hopefully to join in the work for the peace and security of the Jewish people and the Palestinians in our shared land.


John Rosove