I have been commenting on the Israeli situation for more than a decade. As I listen to some responses over the years to some of my commentaries I noticed something strange. Some Jewish people in the Diaspora seem to feel ashamed of Israel's ability to defend itself. They feel Israel should do more for peace and it is Israel's fault that most Palestinians support terrorism; the indiscriminant murder of Israeli civilians. They say that Israel is not giving enough land, or is building in the territories, actually Jerusalem itself, or is not willing to tolerate missile attacks from Hizbullah or Hamas. The Israelis, they say, have been too aggressive protecting themselves by fences and walls.
Just a little example: When the second Intifada started some ten years ago, Reform Judaism, the largest distributed US Jewish magazine had nothing about it for several months. I wrote several articles that were very well received and was encouraged to spread my words to a wider audience. But I wanted more. I wrote to the Editor in Chief of Reform Judaism Magazine explaining that we would like some understanding of the brutal events. He wrote me with quite some anger: don't tell me how to write a national magazine.
That was minor compared to what this Magazine did several years later. It had a long discussion about the "Israeli wall" and how much Palestinians were suffering from it. It did not matter that the fence cut the number of murdered Israelis by a significant amount, it did not matter that the Israeli Supreme Court supervised the location to protect Palestinians from the fence' impacts. Reform Judaism Magazine knew better. Its discussions were supposed to be a balance look at the two sides, but instead it did modify the reality against Israel. First of all "the Wall" was almost completely a fence, not a wall, second a large number of countries were using defensive fences to reduce danger to their population, and they were not facing terrorism as Israelis was. Also it distorted the key photograph to demonstrate the "evil" of the "wall". As an experienced photographer it was obvious to me that the picture of the wall was taken from near the ground to exaggerate the height of the wall.
Contrast that viewpoint with other Americans of foreign ancestry, almost all of us. They generally feel proud in their "old country", in its accomplishment, history, and military power. Have you ever wondered why we are so different? I believe it is partially the submissive culture we had to live during the last two millennia.
American Jews are proud in the freedom and independence that the American Founding Fathers brought to this land. But these same Jews are sometimes uncomfortable with the Israeli Freedom Fighters who liberated Israel over 60 years ago. The US gained its liberty by long and bloody battles and considerable amount of killing. Both Israel's and US freedom fighters shared a common enemy- the British Empire. Gaining independence almost always means wars, and wars means killing of your enemy. All the "Good Wars" the US participated in were brutal to civilians then, and are brutal to innocent Muslim civilians now, from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan. How many are protesting that inhumanity and with the passion they project against Israel? Why the double standard? We hear very minimal liberal voices condemning US killing of civilians, but hear loud and clear the condemnation of Israel for the collateral killing of Arab civilians; The same civilians the terrorists use to protect themselves. Judaism considers saving human life a critical duty, but at the same time it encouraged self defense: if some one comes to kill you, kill him first.
Understandably since these American Jews feel secure here they do not grasp the urgency to save their own lives first. Their own lives are not in danger. As a byproduct of this kind of thinking they are uncomfortable with the accomplishments of the Israeli military against untold odds, from the creation of the state to these very dangerous days facing nuclear Iran. Over 23,000 Israelis were murdered by the Arabs from the creation of Israel, and 100,000 have been injured. Probably the highest percentage of any nation in recent times. Every Israeli knows the meaning of danger and sacrifice.
If you think about it long and hard it is not surprising. Jews have always desired to be identified with the highest morality possible. It was simple; we did not have military power. We were the victims and did not have to face the dilemma of excessive power. During our long history we paid considerable more attention to our religious holidays and little to wars of liberations such as Hanukah and Bar Kochva.
While we lived in the Diaspora for two millennia we had to bow consistently to the powerful leaders and even the weakest local non Jews or they would have started a pogrom. The history of murdering Jews is so long I had no idea until I read recently a more extended history of mayhem and pogrom over time in the Diaspora. Population experts estimated that if the Jews were not so subjected to the untold murders, pogroms and expulsions we would have had some 200 million Jews in the world.
It is natural that when your very life and that of your family can be terminated at the capricious will of the majority you would carry it in your collective memory for centuries. Remember the fear and hate in prior Yugoslavia; the Croats and Serbs, of events that occurred centuries ago.
Note that our ability to stand erect in the streets of our American cities is a new phenomenon. Friends have told me how they were beaten by their Christian school mates on a regular basis in the 1950's and 60's here in this very land of freedom and equality.
With this short half century of semi equality in the USA, (and discrimination still exist here) we still are looking behind our shoulders often. We feel ashamed when a Jew manipulated the stock market since he represents the Jewish people. Why? We have so many more Nobel Prize winners than famous crooks, but we bend down with shame nevertheless when a Jewish name is listed infamously.
I have experienced the hate: three of our synagogues in Sacramento were torched in 1999. Now we pay extra security fees in my Synagogue to have a modicum of a guard on Friday night services. My wife wanted to go to a Friday service in Australia last month; she had to get security clearance first to attend.
So, it is understandable and natural to carry on our shoulders the fear of thousands of years and feel very uneasy because of what the Goeem may say: we do not like Israel's independence and its ability to defend itself. We point the finger at Israel as the denier of peace instead of its enemies. This tendency may come from our hidden feelings: "it is not us, we are good, it is those aggressive Israelis."
Contrary to the common belief that Jewish political advocacy creates Congressional support to Israel; millions of American Christians have been supporting it. Without them Israel would not enjoy the friendship and support of the US.
Since 1960 more than 98 new countries were created and joined the UN. Just one country is subjected to continuous UN discrimination, accusations, fierce hate propaganda, and globally-spreads lies about its people and nationhood- only Israel. And some of us, the free Jews of the US often add to that intolerable burden on the Israeli people. It is not enough that they are targeted for many years by rockets and terrorism; they have to try to defend themselves from their own well established, protected brothers who hide behind the military power of the US, a military power where morality is a far cry from the morality of the Israeli military. Our US military inadvertently caused untold collateral civilian casualties have used drones in foreign skies to protect our US homeland, we support these but it is not our Jewish fault. We are not taking part in it. But those militant, aggressive Israelis deserve our condemnation; they are the ones who shame us Jews by their "separation fence", by unsightly walls to stop assassin bullets, by search points to prevent suicide bombers from blowing Israelis buses full of kids and other innocent civilians.
Only Jews who are protected share this odd behavior of condemning their brothers for wishing to live in security without having to rush their kids to the nearby shelters at a moment notice.
Two thousands year of emotional slavery will not be erased in just a half century. The culture of submissiveness may be one reason. The other may be trying to live according to the unattainable Jewish ideals that were never tested in real life until the creation of the State of Israel.
I would love to have a world guided by Gandhi's principal of non violence. He had a good soul, but even he was deeply ignorant of reality. Two sides have to agree to live in peace. In 1942 during the middle of WWII he urged the British and American soldiers to lay down their arms and let the Germans take over their countries in peace. What a world we would have had.
It is nice to live in a dream and be free of the reality of this too often brutal world.
This short fun show reveals some of Israel strength.
These few minutes of joyful music in Tel Aviv food court will show you also the large variety of foods available, I am getting hungry just looking at these foods from all over the world, the casual way regular Israelis dress, and the fun they have despite the security pressure.
Some 30 singers from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, mingling with the crowd in the Friday morning Food Market at Dizengoff Centre, all at once started singing a much-loved chorus piece
Some may say I have a right to criticize Israel when I feel it has done something wrong. After all, they say, you helped create Israel; you joined the Lechi, most dangerous underground against the British, at 15 and served almost five years until liberation. Instead of enjoying your youth, sport and fun you chose to risk your life. You were arrested, twice. You helped start a new border kibbutz near Gaza while several of your friends were murdered there. You served in the Israeli Air Force too. All true, but then I left Israel to study electronics in the US.
I continued my love of Israel but after ten years here I decided that to preserve my family I would stay and become an American citizen. My right to criticize Israel as an insider stopped with this difficult decision. I was no longer an Israeli. I was not subjected to the same risks and same conditions Israelis were facing. My sons were not facing active military duty and my home was not facing rocket attacks
I continued to love Israel deeply but it was a distant love affair, an affair that does not give direct benefit to Israel. I was here while Israel needed me there to contribute to its growth and the defense of the country.
I do not say I have no right to my feelings and ideas about Israel. I may disapprove and even be angry at some of the misdirection I see there sometimes. I can say what I want and scream too, but I have no special right to claim that since I was an Israeli I have the right to pressure Israel or oppose decisions by the people of Israel. I am an outside observer. I also have no special right because I am a Jew. I am not facing the dangerous situation there and I am not risking any skin of mine when Israel decides on one course of action or another. Obviously American Jews or non-Jews have no moral right to dictate to Israel how to behave.
Just one example of how different it looks from here than from Israel. And how different is our reaction and that of the Israelis. In 2004 I was in Israel when the Palestinians destroyed two Israeli armored vehicles and played football with the heads of the dead Israeli soldiers. And they showed it with glee on their TV. Israel was in shock, how could they defile the dead with joy? All Israeli radio and TV were concentrated on this desecrating "football game." But the Israelis did not want to show the Palestinian TV movie that celebrated that macabre football game. I felt very strongly that it should be shown globally so people could grasp the joy of killing that Palestinian terrorists demonstrated on their TV to great applauds of their Arab audience. The Israelis, however, decided not to show it in respect for the dead and their families. Yet, every American Jew I have discussed it with said they never heard about this case and Israel should have shown it to explain the mentality of Palestinian extremists and their supporters.
It has puzzles me for many years how some good, caring liberal American Jews [and non - Jews], have set a very high moral standards for Israel and do their upmost to hold Israel to these standards, while holding all other countries, including the US itself, to minimal moral standards. For example, the amount of mistaken civilian killing by UN and US forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is many times the unintended civilian deaths that Israel had. I wonder what is it that drives these caring, good, moral people to concentrate almost all their attention on Israeli collateral deaths? Why they forget that Israel is responding to relentless attacks by Palestinian terrorists?
Not only that, Israelis are defending their OWN civilians while the US and UN civilians are NOT under continuous and direct attacks?
When a Jew feels he/she has the right to organize pressure on Israel, or to attempt to reduce US support of Israel, or even send money to organizations whose sole aims are to weaken Israel, I wonder what is driving that person?
There is so much anti-Semitism who is disguises as anti Israeli propaganda around the world. These anti- Semite use the extreme critical views of some Jews to justify their attacks. "You see, even their Jewish brothers condemn Israel."
Are these Jews expecting Israel to risk its future to satisfy their own dreams of a peaceful world? Are they carrying some guilt? Are they trying to be more religious than the Pope?
I never heard a reasonable answer to this question.
What is this compulsion to attack Israel?
by Andrew Roberts
The most precious possession of mankind.
What follows is an edited version of a speech delivered by historian Andrew Roberts to the Friends of Israel Initiative in the British House of Commons on July 19.
From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only 8,000 square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and 60 times their population; yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution -- the State of Israel -- has somehow survived. When during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery.
Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught.
Today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted 20 times as long.
Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Everything that makes a nation state legitimate -- blood shed, soil tilled, international agreements -- argues for Israel's right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League. For many of their governments, which are rich enough to have economically solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago, it is useful to have Israel as a scapegoat to divert attention from the tyranny, failure and corruption of their own regimes.
The tragic truth is that it suits Arab states very well to have the Palestinians endure permanent refugee status; whenever Israel puts forward workable solutions they are stymied by those whose interests put the destruction of Israel before the genuine well-being of the Palestinians. Both King Abdullah I of Jordan and Anwar Sadat of Egypt were assassinated when they attempted to come to some kind of accommodation with a country that most sane people now accept is not going away.
"We owe to the Jews," wrote Winston Churchill in 1920, "a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all wisdom and learning put together."
Although they make up less than half of 1% of the world's population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for literature and science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32% of the Nobel Prizes for medicine, 32% for physics, 39% for economics and 29% for science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers. Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, threatening her with academic boycotts if she builds a separation wall that has so far reduced suicide bombings by 95% over three years.
Her Majesty the Queen has been on the throne for 57 years and in that time has undertaken 250 official visits to 129 countries, yet has not yet set foot in Israel. She has visited 14 Arab countries, so it cannot have been that she wasn't in the region.
No people in history have needed the right to self-defense and legitimacy more than the Jews of Israel.
After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognized that they must have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors. Since then, Israel has had to fight five major wars for her existence. Radical Islam is never going to accept the concept of an Israeli State, so the struggle is likely to continue for another 60 years, but the Jews know that that is less dangerous than entrusting their security to anyone else.
I recently visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. Walking along a line of huts and the railway siding, where their forebears had been worked and starved and beaten and frozen and gassed to death, were a group of Jewish schoolchildren, one of whom was carrying over his shoulder the Israeli flag. It was a moving sight, for it was the sovereign independence represented by that flag which guarantees that the obscenity of genocide will never again befall the Jewish people.
No people in history have needed the right to self-defense and legitimacy more than the Jews of Israel, and that is what we in the Friends of Israel Initiative demand here today.
This article originally appeared in the National Post
This article can also be read at: http://www.aish.com/jw/me/99934014.html
There are some Jews who do not like to accept the generous hands our Christian friends give Israel. These Jews suspect that Christian support is tied to some messianic expectation. Who cares? It is like a drowning man asking the religious affiliation of a potential rescuer before accepting his hand.
There are millions of Christians in the US who stand with Israel. These generous Christians who love and support Israel are the main reason why the US supports Israel, not the political acumen of some Jewish organizations. There are tens of million more Christians world wide who support Israel. They deserve our thanks, our embrace, not suspicion.
Noam Bedin say it well- below:
When the Messiah comes, we could argue
In a world that turned its back to Israel and push us to the wall, we do not have the privilege or time to discuss some theological nuances of our Christian friends. They are almost our only friends who stand with us even in the most difficult times and clearly understand the importance of spreading the truth about Israel across the world.
Noam Bedin, Sderot media Center.