Israel is too important to be left to Israelis

Daniel Pipes recently discussed the perennial issue of whether Diaspora Jews had the ‘right’ to comment on Israeli policies:

I recently criticized the Israeli government for its exchange with Hizbullah in “Samir Kuntar and the Last Laugh” (The Jerusalem Post, July 21); to this, the eminent counterterrorism expert at Tel Aviv University, Yoram Schweitzer challenged the appropriateness of my offering views on this subject. In “Not That Bad a Deal” (July 24) he explained to Jerusalem Post readers how the “contents and tone” of my analysis are “patronizing and insulting, overlooking as they do the fact that the government and public have the right to decide for themselves …, and to shoulder the resulting price.” He also criticizes me for offering an opinion on Israeli issues from my “secure haven thousands of miles away.”

Pipes goes on to argue ably that he is indeed qualified to make judgments about policies — after all, that is his specialty, just as it is that of Schweitzer.

Anyway, if being an Israeli somehow makes one an expert on Israeli policy, should we also quote a Tel Aviv taxi driver who happens to agree with Pipes (and I suspect that more of them agree with him than with Schweitzer) as an expert?

But there is another aspect to this that Pipes doesn’t touch on. Do you recognize this text?

ERETZ-ISRAEL was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books…

On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.

This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.  — Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Israel’s Declaration of Independence clearly states that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, not merely of “the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel”. Those inhabitants were called upon to create the state on behalf of the entire Jewish people, not just themselves. Jewish people around the world put their pennies in pushkes to buy land for the Jewish people in Eretz Israel long before there was a state or even the promise of one.

Many of today’s Diaspora Jews do not remember a time that there wasn’t a State of Israel. Obviously antisemitism did not disappear with the birth of the state, but after centuries of discrimination and pogroms culminating in the Holocaust, it is no longer possible to persecute Jews with impunity.  Do we really think that if Israel disappeared tomorrow that American Jews — who today feel themselves so comfortable in larger society — would be able to rest easy?

Israel is not just another country for Diaspora Jews and what happens in Israel is critical for them. Although they don’t have the rights and responsibilities of Israelis — to vote, to serve in the IDF, etc.  — they are anything but disinterested in what happens there, whether or not they are aware of it.

So, you ask, what about those foolish Diaspora Jews who appear to actually support Israel’s enemies? Well, what about the foolish Israeli Jews who do the same? The operative word here is “foolish”.

Quite possibly, Israel is too important to be left entirely to Israelis.

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