The way forward, he believes, is not in arguing about whether one is being "anti-Israel" by criticizing the country, or is "helping Israel" by defending it. Instead, he would like to see a text-based, real debate about Jewish values, life and ideas and to frame the discussion of Israel within that context.
"For example, what does sovereignty mean 'Jewishly'? Or, what does it mean to integrate Jewish and democratic values? These are some of the big questions we want to be asking," he says. The response to this kind of more serious and text-based conversation, which the Hartman Institute is helping to facilitate through its educational programs in the United States, has been terrific, says Kurtzer.
"We have found people truly want to engage in this way. Many Jews in the United States are nervous about what is happening in Israel but also nervous about sounding anti-Israeli. They are excited to be involved in ways to reshape the conversation," Kurtzer concludes. "It makes our connection richer."