“It’s a Mission, Not a Memo”

By Brian Jaffee, Founding Co-Chair of Heart of a Nation

In the classic film, Jerry Maguire, the eponymous lead character experiences an epiphany leading to a perfect understanding of why he’s doing what he is doing. In this singular moment of clarity, he codifies his creed and distributes it to his entire office. When colleague after colleague tells him “I loved your memo”, he protests, “It’s not a memo, it’s a Mission Statement.”

I’ve recently had a similar moment of clarity. As one of the founding board members of Heart of a Nation, I’m often asked “exactly what is this new endeavor?” There’s an assumption that we are either a lobby, think tank or publication. That we are either pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, neither or both. Unaware that after only three months of operation, we are posting and distributing content three times a week, have already moderated six online discussion forums, and hosted our first of 14 American, Israeli, Palestinian in-person convocations, family and friends impatiently ask, “when is that journal of yours coming out?”

With mock Maguire-esque pique, I’m tempted to reply: “We’re not a journal, we’re a Community of Purpose… and a pretty impressive one at that.”

Our mission involves bringing together American, Israeli, and Palestinian thought leaders and activists who want to work together to explore and amplify progressive solutions to their societies’ most pressing issues. In just our first 90 days — despite Covid, American political polarization, Sheikh Jarrah turmoil, Hamas rockets, Israelis in shelters, Gaza devastation, cancellation of Palestinian elections, formation of a historic unity government in Israel, not to mention a new Administration in Washington working against all odds to Build Back, Better — Heart of a Nation’s 36 impressive Committee Members have been enthusiastically advancing dozens of new initiatives exemplifying the essence of our Mission Statement.

These new efforts are tangible manifestations of what happens when lots of progressive sparks meet lots of committed kindling.

My favorites include:

  • Muslim and Jewish Democratic state and local officials reaching out to one another to strengthen the party they love.
  • Plans for a new podcast asking old-timers from the societies we love for their views on contemporary politics.
  • Channeling new resources into the organizations we love that are working to advance progressive causes on the ground.

These, and so many others, are springing from dyads and cadres in the service of introducing a new paradigm, creating a new context, and ultimately transforming the landscape for progressive Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians to Embrace Better, Together. Our Community of Purpose is attracting those who — as one stated recently — know we have launched at “just the right time, in just the right way,” to build a new consensus for progress.

We are a Community that recognizes that solutions pursued over the past several decades probably won’t position us for where we need to be for the next several decades. Bold new approaches are required; approaches that we believe will only emerge from interacting with new people and exposing ourselves to a multiplicity of perspectives. As another of our founding committee members put it, “Positive new realities are forged by mysterious movements, actions, and choices of lots and lots of good people coming together.”

The good, creative, caring people we are bringing into our Community of Purpose — the “heart” of Heart of a Nation — see and are acting on unique opportunities to forge new realities to Better not Batter the Nations we love.