Q & A with Daniel Gordis on “The Promise of Israel”

I wrote The Promise of Israel because I felt it important that people the world over realize that what ultimately happens to Israel won’t just be about Israel. What happens will affect all humans everywhere. Israel’s freedom now is, and has always been, about the right to be different. It is about the right to forge our own path, to make our own mistakes. Ultimately, if we are just like everyone else, it will not matter who rules us. If we are not characterized by our differences there will be no need to defend our liberty, and in time we will allow it to be taken from us. Whether human freedom survives depends on whether human difference survives. To many people, particularly in Europe’s intellectual elites, Israel now represents a model that the world wants to abandon but that the Jews refuse to relinquish. The challenge now facing Europe and the United States, however, is to rethink their instinctive dismissal of the Jewish state and to learn to see Israel’s insistence on the glory of human difference as critical to the ongoing battle to preserve freedom for people everywhere.

Daniel Gordis

Q. Why, in particular, do you believe evangelical Christians should read this book?

A. Evangelical Christians have long believed that God’s plan for Israel will ultimately benefit the entire world. My argument in The Promise of Israel is that by changing our perspective and seeing Israel not as being stubbornly resistant to universalism, but rather as a model that other culturally centered states might follow, the entire world will, indeed, benefit. My purpose in writing this book, as with every book I write, is to stimulate conversation and to present a different aspect of the Jewish state. In reading The Promise of Israel my hope is that more Christians will realize how important it is that they stand strong in their beliefs and at the same time glean a better understanding of the issues, which hopefully will strengthen their position and help them explain that position to others.

Q. What are you hoping your readers will take away from The Promise of Israel?

A. If I could achieve only one goal with this book, it would be to expand the conversation to include a third option: an open and free democratic government running a country in which a particular people’s heritage and religious traditions are accorded profound importance but are also asked to be in dialogue with the West. What I have in mind is what is called the nation-state or ethnic nation-state: a state that combines the core attributes of liberalism (individual rights, free speech, freedom of the press and the like) and representative democracy in a setting in which one people (such as the French, the Tibetans or the Jews) largely define that society.

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This can be used with permission and credit to Daniel Gordis, The Promise of Israel 2012

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