Blogger's Note: I started writing this post in 2009, while I was trying to get started helping the ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) in Israel. It was decided to have an office, but not a chapter, here. A lot has changed since I first drafted it...
Background: The Desirability of the Pro-Israel Appellation
Since the resurrection of the nation of Israel in 1948, three years after World War II and nearly 2,000 years after the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of most of the Jews of Israel (which was called Yehuda, or Judea, back then; a search for “Palestine in Roman times” comes up with this), it has been particularly and painfully socially undesirable to be considered anti-Israel (and need we say, anti-Jew as well) within the worldwide Jewish community. Due to this prominent factor, a wide range of beliefs and activities has been brought under the umbrella of “pro-Israel” over the decades, including both the Jewish claim and settlement of Biblically- and otherwise-mandated land — i.e., the British Mandate, which included Judea, Samaria and Gaza (together known as Yesha and the disputed territories), as well as Jordan — and the British grant of this land, that became disputed territory at best, to Israel’s Arab neighbors (the Hashemite Arabs and Palestinians who populate Jordan) prior to Israel’s declaration of statehood); both the allowing of war against threatening nations (War of Independence, Six Day War and many others since) and the pressure to make cease-fires each time before Israel’s victory could be declared; both leaving her alone to support herself militarily as best she could (pre-1967) and demanding that she obey the orders of other countries in exchange for military support (ever since 1967), both on the part of the rest of the world and on the part of Israel’s successive governments. In retrospect, an objective observer would have to say that some invisible power has been behind the defense of Israel — making it possible for me to write this article today from Jerusalem. A religious one would identify that power as the Creator, blessed be He.
To the extent that this has held true for Jews the world over, it has been largely respected by the rest of the nations, even though Jew hatred runs like a river through the vast majority of them. Now that the nations have succeeded in convincing a significant number of Jews that Israel is considered illegitimate through their siding unequivocally for Israel’s closest enemies, anti-Semites and anti-Zionists alike (when they aren't actually "one and the same") are doffing their fear of being labeled anti-Israel. In fact, I’ve read at least one prominent Muslim saying that Jews would benefit from the disappearance of the Jewish State from the nations (there were more, saying even worse, but I can’t find them right now. On the other hand, true Arab friends don’t need to be disparaged in the process.) It didn’t help when our very own General Ya’ir Golan remarked that Israel was comparable to Nazi Germany. This is what results when loose opinionated lips let fly. Not that he admitted to anything true, mind you; this is his opinion of Sgt. Elor Azaria’s actions toward an attempted murderer in the midst of his act, who would have succeeded if the army had not reacted at all. Israel was surely demonized by what he said. He might as well have followed with, back Israel up against the wall and cue the firing squad.
Abba…we need you now more than ever. The muddy waters grow ever higher...
Some Pointed Questions
Would the Zionist Organization of America and J Street be able to find common ground on even one item? Yet, both, as well as many Jewish organizations taking both positions, call themselves pro-Israel. This could put the person in the middle in quite a quandary. US vice president Joe Biden, when he was still senator of the state of Delaware, was constantly approached by Jews from both sides and ended up asking “What do you people want?” Today, he is squarely behind his President. He actually pointed out to Jews who had been invited to a Rosh haShana party at the White House nearly 3 years ago that they should not rely on the United States to protect its Jews in the event of danger, but on Israel. It has become worse since then.
So. What does it take to be pro-Israel — a true friend of Israel? Who truly deserves the accolade — and who is the impostor? The answer clearly cannot be: Both sides are true friends. For one side is destructive in nature toward its "friend," and the other constructive. Following the one path will lead to the death of not only Israel as the primary land on which Jews live, but also the annihilation of the Jewish People, make no mistake. Iran is quite open about it; but many others have devised clever and sneaky ways BDS…UN resolutions…EU supporting illegal Arab settlements and expect to get away with it…and so on and on and on, to further their dastardly agenda, quieting their conscience by telling themselves that it’s only for our good. But heeding the other will lead to life for both. Biblical prophecy says that eventually all Jews will live in the entirety of the Land of Israel, which we already know by the term Eretz Yisrael ארץ ישראל.
On the part of ordinary citizenry and community leaders, pro-Israel activity has run the gamut between the writing of letters to the editors of newspapers when anti-Semitic and anti-Israel articles are published to mass protest on behalf of Jewish prisoners (of the Soviet Gulag, most of whom eventually emigrated to Israel once they were freed — we still have many more to go) to protesting the “Disengagement” of Israelis from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, to begging the US Government to put pressure on Israel to stop settling parts of the previously-mandated Yesha even as suicide bombings were killing civilians and rockets were falling on cities adjacent to Arab communities in Gaza.
Do all these positions deserve the “pro-Israel” label?
Are you pro-Israel?
Now, we can and should determine just what kind of behavior truly deserves the “pro-Israel” appellation. It is exactly like defining what a true friend is on a personal level: kind, wise, seeking the friend’s best interest without a conflict of interest, treating the friend as an equal, encouraging the attainment of the friend’s highest potential, and being happy when that friend achieves it. A true friend does not harm his friend physically, psychologically, emotionally or spiritually. He neither destroys his friend’s property nor allows others to do so; neither advises him to harm himself nor puts him in that position. Any benefit the true friend receives may be tremendous; however, it is but a side effect, and not a goal to be striven for. What do I think this means in terms of Israel the nation?
Every nation is unique, and yet each nation expects all the others to respect certain axiomatic conditions to survive and live together in the world, whether as friends or enemies. The particular uniqueness of Israel (referring to both the Jewish people worldwide and the nation that sits on the Holy Land), her history and the road to the fulfillment of her destiny commands a certain relationship on the part of a true friend, particularly because her enemies, and many who call themselves friends, expect her to put up with conditions they themselves would never tolerate.
Ask yourself whether forcing Israel's civilians — non-combatants — to endure rocket fire on her southwestern flank without striking back has any hint of fairness about it; or allowing the Muslim presence on the Temple Mount to dominate the Jewish landscape below, and the heavy equipment run by Muslims to dig up valuable Jewish artifacts and obliterate the Jewish presence from our (really, we should say the) holiest site on earth. Consider whether forcing the revenants (returnees as though from the dead; i.e., completely unexpected by the world) to the heartland in Judea and Samaria to endure the degradation of the term “settler” to something barely short of a curse word and be threatened with the trampling of human rights and the stoppage of building on the Land, even that which was paid for in advance, even of natural growth building on the land, and even the refusal to allow Jews to visit the grave sites of their ancestors and sages – and even the destruction of some of them, is the mark of a true friend. Would you let this happen without protest in any other country of the world that you considered to be a friend? Is it fair then to let it happen to, and in, Israel? Would you dictate your interests to other ally nations? Then don’t dictate to Israel either.
…Unless your country intends to declare her to be an enemy. Are you prepared to see your country do that? If you are, then promote that with all your heart and by all means don’t claim to be pro-Israel. You are not, no matter how much money you donate! (And, by the way, the people and organizations you choose to receive your hard-earned donation also come into the equation in a big way. New Israel Fund, for example: If they were honest, they would call it the No Israel Fund; they wouldn’t even have to change the initials.) Above all, be honest, out front. You don’t need to be mealy-mouthed with us brash, direct Israelis. But don’t expect to be treated like Jews by your fellow Jews here in the end. It’s only fair.
Another thing: Don’t use anything made by Jews, especially Israelis. It is the height of hypocrisy to use computers with Israeli- or Jewish-made parts and systems for Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions purposes; but if you don’t want Israel to benefit from the rest of the world and intend that we starve to death, then, to be fair, that world should not benefit from Israeli or Jewish inventions or contributions; neither should any Jew who supports them. Who cares whether the world would absolutely fall apart because aspirin was invented by a Jew? Too bad. You are our enemies, just like your neighbors, and shouldn’t care. You deserve precisely the “normal” behavior from us that they have foisted on us for age upon age, with your help.
Remember, if you can, the passage (here, I’ll help you1) where G-d says to the Israelites: According to the number of days which you toured the Land forty days, a day for each year (which happened to be the disparagement the Land of Israel by the Ten Spies). Now, imagine how it would be for your neighboring non-Jews if the same G-d said to them, “A year for every day you mistreated My people…” Do you want to be found in cahoots with them in the event this happens?
Many organizations, leaders and ordinary people — yes, including Jews — claim to be pro-Israel, but they do exactly the opposite of what a friend does for a friend. A true friend of Israel will be careful to examine how an organization goes about expressing its relationship with Israel before s/he joins it or adopts its agenda. At the risk of being cynical, it appears to me that many organizations seek to be called pro-Israel precisely because they seek to maximize the damage they wish to do in the name of the friendship. My advice, therefore: Avoid them at all cost and align yourself with true friends, and you will be part of the solution, helping us out of our dysfunction, rather than inadvertently becoming part of the problem.
Do we, pipsqueak Israel, dare speak this way to the nations? If we want to continue to live on this planet, particularly on the soil given to us, we absolutely must. Not only that, but it would be good to be able to rely 100% on our leadership to speak this way. Will it happen? Will we have to wait only until Mashiach is revealed and crowned, or can we help him out a little? Who knows?
But, only then G-d will help us; and we must then forever acknowledge His help and presence that has been there, albeit hidden, all along.
Hat tip: Devash
1 Note that the last word in verse 34 is “t’nu’ati.” I find it interesting that in modern Hebrew t’nu’ah means movement — you may recall Tzipi Livni’s party in the last government, HaT’nu’ah. But its more original meaning of “my alienation” as noted in the translation would be one more appropriate reason, among however many there were, that they changed the party name for this government. – CDG
UPDATE: Devash: What Does It Mean to be “Pro-Israel”?
UPDATE: Highly recommended! See Anti-Zionism explained in a Venn diagram
Also: On The Appropriate Response to Anti-Semitic Lies and Blood Libels Directed at Israel
UPDATE: Sadly, I have to point out Hillel as a campus organization that has abandoned its principles as a friend of Israel.
The Lie about the Six Day War & Why We Gave the Temple Mount Away | The Real Arab Grievance Against the Jews | Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State, part 1 | The Political Algorithms of the Arab-Israeli Conflict | Say WHAT? Anti-Semites? Who, Us Anti-Zionists? | Attack of the 90-Foot Islamic Virgins | UNESCO Declares…Oh No, a Jewish Umbrella! | Time for a New Israeli Diplomatic Initiative | Arthur Eichengrün, Inventor of Aspirin | The Status Quo for Jews, part 1 | The Status Quo for Jews, part 2