Shabbat Greetings from Meredith Dragon 5.26.17

It has been a busy spring. Our community has come together many times, in significant ways, to mourn victims of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah, to remember our fallen heroes on Yom HaZikaron, to celebrate Israel's 69th birthday on Yom Ha'Atzmaut and to honor 13 extraordinary women. The turnout for each of these events was outstanding, and the feeling of togetherness and strength in the community was palpable. So many people worked hard on these programs, and I thank all of them for their time and dedication.

Once again, our community needs to come together, but this time it is not for an event. It is to recognize and honor our history and to be advocates for Israel. June 5 marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. These six days in June changed the course of our Israeli and Jewish history. The most important fact that we must remember and acknowledge is that if Israel had lost the Six Day War, she would have ceased to exist and the course of Jewish history would have been altered forever. We are living and creating a strong Jewish life in Rochester, Israel and around the world, because of Israel's victory in 1967.

Unfortunately, there are people in this world, and in our community of Rochester, who have co-opted our story and our narrative. They have turned the Six Day War into an opportunity to scourge Israel and to call a rallying cry of protest. It has been brought to my attention that a fringe group of people will be protesting on June 5 in the 12 Corners area of Brighton. This group is not protesting Israel's victory. They are protesting Israel's legitimacy and right to exist.  The verbiage that this fringe element is using is anti-Semitic, and their purpose is to eliminate any Jewish relationship and claim to the land of Israel. Words cannot begin to describe their illegitimate claims.

What can we do? What are we doing? I have conferred with many wise people this week, in Rochester and around the globe, who have the same advice. We should make sure that we are giving as much information to our entire community as possible and that we are making sure the correct facts are shared. We all must be advocates and spokespeople. The advice is also that we should not engage with a fringe group because this legitimizes their position and gives them power. A rally at 12 Corners baits us and pokes the Jewish community in its heart but we also need to remember that the vast majority of our Rochester community supports us and Israel. We have many more friends than we do enemies. We should not engage with folks who are not interested in dialogue.

We are sharing the information below so that you know what we are doing on behalf of our community to counter the efforts of those who seek to de-legitimize Israel, particularly on the anniversary of the Six Day War. What we can do, and what we are continuing to do, is to use the resources and the relationships that we have to ensure that the proper message, history, narrative and facts are spread over as wide an audience as possible. It is a constant challenge for us, which is why we are continually engaging in Israel dialogue, offering programs, educating our children and speaking publicly about Israel. 

To that end we have been working over the course of the year to prepare our community for this 50th anniversary. The Israel Speakers Series, particularly last week's program on the Six Day War, was scheduled proactively to make sure people know their history. We created a teen program in March, in partnership with local foundations and agencies, to prepare our younger generations. We are posting a series of videos from the "Countdown to the Six-Day War" Social Media Project on our Facebook page. A new video is being released every few days, as a lead up to the anniversary. Please feel free to use these videos and share them widely. 

We are submitting an essay for publication on the D&C's opinion page on Sunday, June 4 dispelling myths about the Six Day War. We have reached out to our local and state officials to ensure they know the importance of this anniversary, that they are educated about the facts and that they are aware of our concerns. Our officials are receptive and supportive.
There are so many excellent resources on the events of the Six Day War.  Here is a sampling of my favorites:
1)      The JCRC in Washington, DC put together an EXCELLENT tool kit.  It includes history, narratives, geography, lesson plans and much more. Click here for this resource. 
2)      You can find "Myths and Facts" talking points here
3)      Jewish Federations of North America frames the Six Day War (introduction) and highlights Israel's efforts for peace since 1967 (6 day war). 
4)      Here is a primer created by Honest Reporting.
5)      You'll find an excellent article from Hadassah Magazine - click here to read.
6)      Consider joining one of two webinars on the Six Day War with Michael Oren, former Ambassador from Israel to the United States and a world-renowned historian:
June 6, 12:00 PM Click here to RSVP
June 7, 4:00 PM Click here to RSVP
As we prepare for the anniversary for the Six Day war, we must not forget that on Monday, May 29 we observe United States Memorial Day. Our fallen soldiers have given their lives to protect us and our country. They ensured that we can live as free Jewish people in the United States, where we have the ability to teach our children and our community about our past and give them hope for our future. We remember them this weekend and all year long. 
Shabbat Shalom. 


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