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How Best to Support Israel

Here, first, are the two basic options: old school and new school. Old school, indoctrinated by AIPAC, calls for obedience and support—without any reservations, questions, or expectations of answers—to the state of Israel and its government. “Be pretty and be quiet,” as the old Israeli, chauvinistic saying goes. In other words: give us your money, Jewish people of the Diaspora (and the American government, too), and forget about it. We will make good use of it, trust us blindly on that. We will channel the money directly to Israel, or indirectly by lobbing on its behalf here in Washington D.C. No matter who is in power there, be it a party from the left or from the right–even a dictatorship, in theory, or maybe a theocracy, why not—they will get our money and our unqualified support. They can always count on us for a steady supply of millions of dollars in order to pursue its policy in Israel and in the Middle East. If that calls for continuing occupation and the rule over other people—so be it; if it means death-squads a la carte roaming freely, assassinating our enemies east and west, in Europe and in the Mideast—so be it; if it means being the bully and pariah of the world—so be it. For better or worse, we are all Jews, aren’t we? They do some good things in Israel, no doubt, and some not so good as well, but we are with them in thick and in thin. And since we’re living in the Diaspora, and they are living in Eretz Israel, who are we to tell them what to do?

Who indeed. “We, all of us,” comes the voice of the new school, representing by J Street. If Israel is the home of the Jewish people, and if we are called upon to support it and help secure its existence, we have a stake in what kind of existence it would be, and in what kind of society it would ultimately create. Again, whether it’s a government of the right or of the left, we are committed, first and foremost, to a set of ideas and principles that guides our support. For instance, we object to Israel’s rule over other people, and therefore we need to pursue peace vigorously—as oppose to paying it a lip service here and there, a la Netanyahu—and make sure our money and our lobbying support these goals. Peace and security for Israel—absolutely. Depriving the Palestinian people of same—absolutely not. We are committed to educate, and to spread the new school’s vision and message. We need to support the Israel we can all be proud of, living among the nations not as a Jewish bully but as a partner. If Israel‘s actions are along these lines, we applaud it; if they are against it, we protest it and work to change it. No longer, we Jews of the Diaspora, give Israel a carte blanche. We have a mind and a voice of our own, and we will let it be heard loud and clear.

As far as the relations of these two schools to America’s policy towards Israel, the same holds truth. The old school’s policy calls for defending Israel’s actions in Washington at all costs, spies and all, and lobbying the American administration to support Israel no matter what. The new school calls for defending Israel only when its action are defendable, and lobbying the administration to do likewise; i.e. support Israel only when its actions concur with the ideas and policies that further peace, security, democracy, human rights, nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, etc. In other worlds, if Israel is part of the world (and the UN) body of nations, it shouldn’t be treated in any other way.

Lastly—maybe there is a third way. An individualistic way, in which we all support Israel the best way we see fit. Without anybody telling us how we should, or shouldn’t do it. Supporting specific projects, like Hadassah, or your town’s sister-city in Israel; like volunteering to serve in Israel in this or that capacity; even help in building daycare centers in neglected Israeli and Arab villages, or donating for the poor children of Gaza. If it suits your mind, your pocket and your consciousness – just do it. Whatever floats your boat, actually: even write a blog, like this one. As long as no “Big Brother” tells you what’s right and what’s wrong, crushing you into obedience. We are all capable, I believe, of making the right choice ourselves.

2 Responses

  1. It is precisely because she is so beautiful—or at least was so beautiful, when she was young—that I so worried about her. As for the first point you’re making, I wonder whether you’re right; i.e. that the “Old School” is now the minority. I’m not so sure, (read what your Rabbi wrote on the cover of our congregation last issue of the monthly scroll). And I certainly like to believe that most American Jews by now realized that their opinion count and should be heard just as any Israeli. Though again, I’m not sure.
    As for your second point: I totally do not agree with you, but since you said categorically “That point is so moot that it is ridiculous to discuss that the opposite could ever be true,” I won’t respond. Still, it might worth a future, separate post, and discussion, on this blog.
    As for your third point, I’m critical of the USA—and was in my blog before—and its policy in Iraq and Pakistan, and I wish they get the hell out of there, and concentrate instead on intelligence and connecting the dots in order to defend this country. The way the Israelis, of course, know how to do much better.

    Thanks for your comments,

  2. Old school, new school. Phooey. Hillel, my friend, you are only trying to stir up an argument amongst friends. Let me instead comment on select portions of your blog. The real old school thinking was that diaspora Jew was not allowed to have ANY opinion, for or against an Israeli policy. I can remember hearing that from more than one Israeli. I think that all changed about 8-10 years ago when groups like the one we formed in Sacramento began to openly oppose the pro-Palestinian lies that were being perpetrated in the media. That was because the old school foolishly believed it was better to ignore these lies and the uncounted thousands who were beginning to believe those lies. So I honestly think the old school is now the minority. If you ask me, the majority are like me in that I believe I am just as deserving to my opinion as any Israeli.

    As usual, you are missing the big picture. It is, and has ALWAYS been, the Palestinians who are giving lip service to peace. That point is so moot that it is ridiculous to discuss that the opposite could ever be true.

    I suspect your dig at assassinations was related to the recent news. Again you miss the big picture. I think sometimes you are old school peace-nik. It’s okay to criticize Israel, but not the United States when we are engaging in the same policy in Pakistan and other countries in the region?

    So don’t be so hard on Israel. She’s so beautiful. This is truly a special time in history. Enjoy it.

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