From 2010 to 2012, he served as the Director of Communications for the Jewish Agency. Before that, he was the Jewish world correspondent for the Israeli English-language daily The Jerusalem Post between June 2005 and July 2010. He changed his last name from Rettig to Gur after getting married in March 2008.
According to the website of the Limmud Conference, where he was a speaker in December 2007, Gur covered "organised Jewish communities worldwide on issues including demographics, identity, anti-Semitism, education and communal politics... He dealt with Israel's contentious education budget and Israel-NATO relations. He was the Post's chief correspondent to the [annual Israeli security-related] Herzliya Conference."
Gur's reporting focused on trends in Jewish identity, especially in the United States and Israel.
Gur was born on April 4, 1981, in Jerusalem to American-born parents. He lived in the United States from 1989 to 1999, returning to Israel in 1999 to serve in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat medic. Upon completing military service, Gur studied history and Jewish thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He opines regularly on what he sees as the growing divide between Israeli Jewish identity and American Jewish identity. Together, these two communities constitute some 80% of world Jewry, he writes, and their basic identities as Jews are increasingly being constructed in radically different ways.
|“|| For the Jews, the 21st century is beginning to take shape as the century of confusion. Wikipedia may sum up "Jewish identity" in 333 words, but the reality is a complex and conflicted Jewish world in which identities are diverging in deep and sometimes mutually exclusive ways.
Every study shows that Jews in Israel and America are growing farther apart each year. Israeli youth, taught by an incompetent education system that, besides its financial and structural woes, is utterly unaware of the Diaspora's existence, know nothing about the Jewish communities of the world, and little about their own place in Jewish history. Across the Atlantic, the identity of American Jewish youth, in the words of Yeshiva University's Rabbi Jacob Schachter, is shifting away from being "Jews influenced by America," toward "the knowledge that they are America."
There are some clear definitions out there for Jewish affiliation, but no hard and fast rules about Jewish identity. The internal Israeli religious-secular culture war has created a spectrum of Jewish identification centered on how and why one ignores Israel's official chief rabbinate - the haredim in favor of their own "Torah masters" and, increasingly, the secular in favor of pop-Buddhism and unrecognized marriages. It is, if you will, a spectrum of identities centered on the question of institutional and political affiliation, not spiritual choice.
Meanwhile, American Jews are the quintessential Jews of choice, living in an America founded on the principle of individualistic spirituality. Many don't even accept that there can be objective criteria for Jewish identity.
In August, 2009, the Jewish Agency's Masa project produced an advertisement that claimed that one-half of Diaspora Jews are assimilating and becoming "lost to us." This drew a firestorm of criticism from overseas, and led Gur to comment that the disagreement reflected this different way of constructing Jewish identity.
Jewish people in Norway
In March, 2009, Gur was contacted by a man claiming to be "David Weiss, captain in the Norwegian military". Weiss was quoted in a news story written by Gur in which Norwegian Jews said they experienced tensions related to their Jewishness, mostly from Muslim immigrants and anti-Israel discourse in the media.
Contrary to the claims of some Norwegian journalists, Gur did not accuse Norwegian Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen of chanting "Death to Jews" in a demonstration. His story was correcting a previous, inaccurate report written by another journalist that seemed to suggest this.
In response to Norwegian journalists' inquiries, the Norwegian military claimed that no "Captain David Weiss" existed in its ranks, a claim that led the political editor of the major Norwegian daily Aftenposten, Harald Stanghelle, to accuse the military of a cover-up of Weiss' identity.
The next day, on April 5, 2009, the rival daily Dagbladet confirmed that "David Weiss" was the faked identity of a 45-year-old Oslo resident who had never served in the military. According to Dagbladet, he had fooled The Jerusalem Post, the BBC and several major Norwegian papers.
Gur's version of the events is related here.
- Jewish groups skeptical over Annapolis Jerusalem Post, January 10, 2008
- A whole new, wikified Jewish world? Jerusalem Post, December 31, 2007
- Jewish organizations want to bring Israel studies to US campuses Jerusalem Post, May 2, 2007
- 'If the Torah is not for everyone, it is not for anyone' Meimad website, September 7, 2006
- Masa is clueless, but it isn't the only one Jerusalem Post, September 7, 2009
- Norway Jews still tell of tolerance The Jerusalem Post, March 31, 2009
- Stanghelle thinks the military is bluffing text in Norwegian, Dagbladet, April 4, 2009
- Here is "Agent David Weiss" exposed text in Norwegian, Dagbladet, April 5, 2009
- Limmud - Presenters: R
- Jews in the age of identity
- Masa is clueless, but it isn't the only one
- Norway Jews still tell of tolerance
- Stanghelle thinks the military is bluffing about the non-existence of David Weiss (Norwegian)
- 'Agent David Weiss' revealed (Norwegian)
- The mad, dishonest raving about truth and honesty