There is terrible antagonism toward Israel. Figures like new congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib accuse Israel of being racist and persecuting Palestinians. In turn, they support the cruel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which attempts to strangle Israel economically.
But, it is not just this political left. It filters down to many ordinary citizens of our country.
Some of these people say: “I am not antisemitic. I am just against Israel. I have nothing against Jews.”
It is very important for me to clarify and say to these people — indeed, this is one of the most important points I have ever voiced in my many years of these columns: If you disagree with a particular economic or political policy of Israel, you have a right to criticize. Jews sometimes do this, too. BUT, if you are blatantly antagonistic against Israel — hateful against its existence — you ARE an antisemite. You are against Jews. The two cannot be separated.
Let me explain why.
Israel is a central part of the Jewish Faith. God led Abraham to Israel to start the Jewish Faith. It became the place of the Temple built in Jerusalem, the center of worship. For 2,000 years, upon exile, Jews longed to go back, to have their land again. This return to Zion, Israel, was part of their prayers. In 1948, the establishment of the modern state of Israel was a blessed triumph for Jews. In our prayer book today, we Jews pray for the peace and security of this land. We read the Psalm: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” (Psalm 137).
Yes, Israel is a key part of the Jewish Faith. Thus, if you hate Israel, you hate Judaism.
I would put it: if you do not hate Judaism and Jewry (or have difficulty admitting that you do), can we really trust that you even hate Israel enough to be a dedicated activist against it? I have encountered countless self-proclaimed enemies of Israel who however balk at the notion of using WMDs on Israel. (In contrast, those willing to say proudly that they hate Jews have no such squeamishness.) Worse, many who claim to hate Israel but not Jews go out of the way to let “anti-Israel Jews” (an oxymoron) criticize Israel on their behalf, which hands control over the dissent back to the selfsame tribe that Israel was founded to benefit. (In contrast, those willing to say proudly that they hate Jews will assert that Jews are unqualified to talk about Israel for specifically the above reason.)
(Of course the term “antisemite” as appears in the article is still nonsense.)
The flip side is that non-Jews who love Israel also love Judaism, at least in the sense of wishing they had a version of it for their own tribe:
Israel, particularly secular Tel Aviv, is culturally pretty much a European country and its social liberalism is more like France’s, England’s, and Germany’s than its neighbors. As for technology, it isn’t surprising that a people that have contributed disproportionately to science and intellectual life in the West should continue doing so after becoming Israelis.
But there is an even more important reason to give two cheers for Israel and to think of it, despite its excesses, as exemplary: Israel is nationalist (<<<Wrong! Israel prioritizes non-Israeli Jews over non-Jewish Israelis! – AS). It desperately does not want to die. Its leaders are fierce in their concern for their own people. It is not wallowing in guilt. It is not in the least bit tempted to go in for population replacement. All nationalisms can be belligerent and excessive, needlessly violent, unwilling to consider the legitimate concerns of other peoples, and under its current leadership, Israel at least borders on many of these failings. Some believe that such excess is baked into Zionism, but I’m not persuaded. Israeli nationalism (<<<Wrong! (see above) – AS) can and should be modulated and tempered, but even in its arguably excessive mode, it has exemplary aspects.
In 2013, faced with a surge of migrants from Sudan, it built a fence across the Sinai, stopping the flow immediately. Five years later, it toyed with the idea of giving some 50,000 African migrant asylum seekers a choice between jail or a lump sum payment and a plane ticket to an undisclosed African country. The measure was held up in the courts, but remains popular. In any case, Israel has made itself the most resistant to the asylum/refugee claimant industry. In 2017, of its 54,600 requests for asylum, Israel granted 33. In contrast, Europe granted refugee status to 90 percent of asylum seekers. Which model, one might ask, is more likely to bequeath an acceptably self-governing nation to one’s children and grandchildren?
While the West can learn something from Israel about building fences and discouraging bogus asylum claims, perhaps Israel’s greatest achievement has been its birthrate. Contrary to the trend throughout the West, fertility in Israel is rising. Many, even some demographers, thought that this was due to high birthrates among ultra Orthodox Jews, but recent research shows this is not the case. The greatest rise in Israeli fertility is among traditionally observant and even secular Jewish women—which, contrary to the pattern seen in every other advanced nation, lies at or above the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman. Israeli women participate in the workforce in as high percentages as in any other OECD country, so this can’t be explained by some sort of enforced kitchen-children-church dogmatization.
There seems to be no single explanation but a combination. Israel has good prenatal care and a culture that encourages child-bearing. A significant role is probably played by the sense of Jewish rebirth that Israel avidly cultivates, hardly surprising in view of the Holocaust(<<< WHAT ‘Holocaust’??? – AS). Israel is not plagued by notions of guilt and unearned privilege, and Israelis have somehow acquired the idea that having children to strengthen the next generation is a good thing. On my first visit there, I was surprised to learn that a young woman who headed an important human rights organization had three young preschool children. This arrangement, difficult to contemplate in Europe or America without great personal wealth, was possible in Jerusalem. Yet whatever combination of national spirit, child-friendly culture, natalist policies, and a social welfare net are at work, this is something the West needs to learn from and seek to emulate if it wishes to survive.
They thus make plausible an idea that would have seemed to me either crudely propagandistic or oversaturated in esoteric Protestant theology 20 years ago: that the fates of Israel and the West are connected in deep ways. To turn Judt on his head, if the idea takes root that it is illegitimate for Israelis to have their own state, it begins to seem at least somewhat outlandish for the English and the French and the Hungarians to make any special claim to their homelands.
The West is at a malleable and critical moment. It may go under, hypnotized by the false notions that progress and freedom require open frontiers and free movement of peoples and that individual rights will somehow thrive in some sort of post-national imperium. Or it may summon from within and without the sources for its own revival. If it does manage to endure, I’m increasingly persuaded that the Israeli example will turn out to be a vital component of Western renaissance.
And this is why WMDs must be used on Israel. This is the only correct “Israeli example” if world history is to be a tale of justice (as should be one of our highest aspirations to so make it). The existence of the Samson Option tells us that Israel itself fully expects the world to reach this conclusion sooner or later!