It’s time for Jewish Americans to stand up.
Does the state of Israel have special meaning for them, or is it just another foreign country? They should decide.
This is because the Jewish community in the US, for whatever reasons, has an influence that’s much greater than numbers (about 6.5 million) would indicate. And it’s become urgent to exert this influence in a positive direction and in a coordinated way.
It’s beginning to be clear that the relatively pro-Israel policy that the US has followed since 1967 — I say this even though I know that there have been ups and downs in this period, that some influential institutions (the State Department) have always been less than friendly, etc. — is coming to an end.
This isn’t surprising. Since before 1948, the proponents of a Jewish state have struggled against opposition from the Arabs and from antisemites, and the founding of the state didn’t make it go away — on the contrary. Israel’s history for the past 62 years can be seen as a series of attempts to eliminate it. Its enemies have tried various approaches, but in recent years have realized that a regional military confrontation alone won’t achieve their goal.
Israel’s enemies have come to understand that in order to win they must isolate Israel and remove the international support that has, over the years, allowed this small nation to prevail militarily over the much larger Arab armies. As everyone knows, the goal is to delegitimize Israel, to demonize her, and to split her supporters away from her. Their desired practical results are these:
- No nation will supply Israel with the weapons or the means to develop weapons whose qualitative superiority is needed to make up for the huge quantitative advantage of the Arabs and Iranians;
- International institutions will act to portray Israel’s self-defense as aggression and her enemies’ aggression as defense, and impose sanctions and embargoes, or even intervene militarily against her;
- Great powers — the US, Russia, the EU — will impose diplomatic agreements on her which will weaken her strategically, strengthen her enemies, and make her more vulnerable to terrorism and asymmetric warfare;
- Her morale and her economy will be damaged.
At first, their attempts to do this were crude, and it was necessary to overcome the reservoir of sympathy for the Jewish refugees of WWII. But little by little they’ve learned which levers to pull — the ones connected to oil, the ones related to colonial guilt, the religious ones that animate the world’s Muslims, even the subtle psychological ones which have given rise to the remarkable phenomenon of Jewish Israel-hatred, and the even more remarkable one of Israeli Israel-hatred.
The US may be the last major battleground of this psycho-war, which seems to have been more or less successful in Europe and especially in the UK. Today there is no other country but the US which could be counted on to supply Israel in time of war or to support her in the UN Security Council.
The battle is raging. Saudi Arabia, for example, has employed the best PR firms, a veritable army of former US officials, even an ex-president, and legions of academics and journalists — all in the service of chipping away at Israel’s support in the US.
Every sector of American society is targeted. Muslim and pro-Palestinian organizations on campuses maintain a continuous stream of anti-Israel propaganda, films, events, etc. Left-wing, human rights, and peace groups have almost all adopted anti-Zionism as a foundational plank of their platforms. Jimmy Carter speaks to Evangelicals who have traditionally supported Israel, explaining that Christians in the Holy Land are suffering — because of Israel. And Jews have a smorgasbord of Jewish groups that will tell them why they should oppose Israel, including of course the slick, dishonest J Street.
The Obama Administration — the President, his staff and advisors — have not been immune to this campaign. Educated at Harvard, and with associates like Rashid Khalidi, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samantha Power, Robert Malley, etc. Barack Obama sees the Middle East through a pro-Arab lens. Obama’s recent actions — his unprecedented demand on Israel to stop Jewish building in Jerusalem, his failure to pressure the Palestinians for any reciprocal concessions, his brutal humiliation of PM Netanyahu — make this clear.
If you consider yourself part of a people — if it means anything to you that your ancestors were Jews — remind yourself that they were blown all over the world by the whims of non-Jewish rulers who in many cases thought they were inherently evil or subhuman. Most of you do not remember when there was no state of Israel. Most of you do not remember the insecurity of living in a world where Jews — regardless of citizenship — were regarded as beings who did not belong anywhere. A world where a Jew was nobody.
If you study recent history, you’ll learn that the reason for the persistence of the Israeli-Arab conflict is not that the Palestinian Arabs want a state, but that the Arabs do not accept the existence of a Jewish state of any size in the Middle East. You’ll learn that Israel is fully legitimate in international law. You’ll learn that the areas illegally occupied by Jordan in 1948 are not ipso facto ‘Palestinian land’. You’ll learn that Israel has given up territory and security, exposed its people to terrorism, in order to try to make peace with its neighbors — and gotten war in return.
If you are concerned about the treatment of Palestinians, remember that context is everything. Remember that every single day Israelis are shot at, stoned or are the target of firebombs thrown by Palestinian Arabs. Remember that almost every day the checkpoints that are emblematic of the ‘oppression’ of Palestinians result in the interception of a terrorist carrying explosives or weapons. Remember what happened before the hated security barrier was built: hundreds of Israelis were killed by suicide bombers in early 2002.
If you think the Israeli operation in Gaza was ‘disproportionate’, think about what it would be like to have hundreds of rockets falling on your town each week, even if they did kill ‘only’ 14 people. And also remember that almost everything in the US and international media about Palestinian casualties and Israeli actions in Gaza is a lie.
If you are concerned about justice, think about the way Israel has been slandered and falsely accused in the UN, with the incredible Goldstone Report as exhibit A.
If you consider yourself even a bit connected to Judaism, look at the Torah. More than anything else, it is about a three-sided relationship: one between God, the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel.
It’s time to ask if you feel a connection to the Jewish state which has been in existence for just a few years, but which is the culmination of the yearnings of the Jewish people — your people — for two thousand years.
If you do, then it’s time to stand up and tell J Street to take its Arab and Iranian funding and go to Hell. It’s time to make it clear to Obama that he will not get Jewish votes, contributions and support if he tilts toward the Arabs and treats the leaders of the Jewish state — in a sense, the representatives of the Jewish people — like nobodies.
The Jews of America — the largest Jewish community in the world — need to do this not only because they are influential, but because if they don’t support Israel, why should anybody else.
Here is the least that we, American Jews, Democrats and Republicans, should demand from any party in return for our support:
- The US must take the position that negotiations for a Palestinian state cannot take place until the Palestinians agree that Israel belongs to the Jewish people and that a final agreement will end all Arab claims on Israel. In addition, Palestinians must stop anti-Israel incitement.
- The US must reaffirm the commitments made by President Bush in 2004 that the pre-1967 lines are not sacrosanct and that refugees and their descendants should not expect to be settled in Israel.
- The US must reaffirm the prior understanding that Israel can build in Jerusalem.
- The US must refrain from trying to interfere in Israel’s political system and must show appropriate respect for its representatives.