The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today, Ron is a strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.
Unconditional Christian Love for Israel
This past week on the final day of the yearly Christians United For Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit, thousands of CUFI activists took to The Hill to lobby their congressman to stand with Israel and to support the Taylor Force Act ending funding to the Palestinian Authority who have for years been making monthly stipends to convicted and imprisoned terrorists and their families. A kind of social security payment for Palestinian mass murderers of innocent children, Israeli’s, and tourists. These Christian supporters of Israel made their voices heard on Capitol Hill, showing that America stands with Israel.
In the United States, the two groups that most ardently support Israel are Jews and evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. Jewish support is easy to explain, but why should certain Christians, most of them politically quite conservative, be so devoted to Israel? There is a second puzzle: despite their support for a Jewish state, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are disliked by many American Jews.
The evidence about evangelical attitudes is clear. In 2006, a Pew survey found that evangelical Christians were more favorable toward Israel than the average American was—and much more sympathetic than either mainline Protestants or secularists. In another survey, evangelical Christians proved much likelier than Catholics, Protestants, or secular types to back Israeli control of Jerusalem, endorse Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and take Israel’s side in a Middle Eastern dispute. Among every religious group, those who are most traditional are most supportive of Israel.
Evangelical Christians have a high opinion not just of the Jewish state but of Jews as people. That Jewish voters are overwhelmingly liberal doesn’t seem to bother evangelicals, despite their own conservative politics. Yet Jews don’t return the favor: in one Pew survey, 42 percent of Jewish respondents expressed hostility towards evangelicals and fundamentalists. In comparison, in a study of religious attitudes on a national scale, two scholars from Baruch College have shown, a much smaller fraction—about 16 percent—of the American public has similarly antagonistic feelings toward Christian fundamentalists.
So what is it about Christians and their support for Israel that makes some Jews at times uneasy? I can even imagine what makes Jews - especially liberal Jews - nervous about this huge group of Israel lovers: their conservative values, an uncompromising stance on the Middle East peace process and support for Israel; the theological slant of their support for Israel.
Christians love to love Israel unconditionally, and express love for Jews unconditionally. There is something almost non-Jewish about it. Jews usually do not talk about unconditional love. It's not something that usually turns us on. We are more into debate, questioning, challenging and rattling the cage. Christians love to love. Jews love to kvetch.
So why do we find so little expression of unconditional love among Jews? Is it because we Jews confuse love with supporting official policy? That is, if we disagree with Israel's policies, do we find it difficult - even impossible - to express unconditional love for Israel? Moreover, how many Israel supporters who disagree with Israel's policies can honestly say that their love for Israel is, in fact, unconditional?
When one considers the worldwide movement in recent years to de-legitimize the State of Israel, that is, the enemies of Israel are not looking for a debate. Their aim is not to engage or interact but to undermine and demonize. Their opposition is not open to reason or good will. In short, their hatred is unconditional. This being the current geo-strategic reality challenging Israel, than why should some Jews be uneasy by Christians’ unconditional love toward Israel?
How better to fight unconditional hatred than with unconditional love? What better weapon against the forces working to delegitimize Israel than a force that unequivocally expresses love of Israel? Of course, we Jews should never stop doing what we do best: argue, debate, challenge and unconditionally “Kvetch”. However, this must be conducted within a common consensus meaning that Israel must remain the national homeland of the Jewish people.
But we can't love the process more than we love Israel itself. For Israel supporters, unconditional love is the emotion that ought to trump all others; the emotion that fuels and gives meaning to our actions. I can challenge my child and rebuke him, but I can never forget to show him unconditional love. Many of our debates about Israel have become coarse and divisive. One reason is that in our zeal to express tough, critical love, we have forgotten about pure love, unconditional love so common among our Christian supporters throughout the United States.
We have much to learn from our Christian supporters and how they express unconditional love for Israel. It is this unconditional love that can bind us together, Christians and Jews in our undivided support for the State of Israel and send a strong message of deterrence to Israel's enemies.
Liberal American Jewish leaders demand “full representation without taxation”
In recent day’s liberal American Jewish leaders have done everything in their power to portray the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling coalition as purposely causing significant harm to the strong alliance between diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. These leaders have leveled accusations that Netanyahu’s actions constitute a slap in the face of American Jewry, have shaken the historical alliance between American Jewry and Israel, and attacked the very essence of what defines Jewish Identity. The recent conversion law controversy and egalitarian praying area at the Western Wall being indicative, they claim, of what Israel has become. These very serious accusations seem to serve the political opponents of Israel’s ruling coalition rather than reflect the facts concerning the Western Wall, where no change in the status quo has changed or to be implemented allowing for continued egalitarian praying; concerning the Conversion Law controversy, the relevant parties are mainly former Russian Olim living in Israel and not American Jewry nor American Olim. Sadly, these same liberal American Jewish leaders have joined hands with Israel’s leading opposition political parties to challenge the viability of Israel’s democratically elected ruling coalition all in the name of what they define as Jewish Unity. While disagreements may arise, there is no justification for the contempt and condescension being leveled at the Israeli government by this liberal diaspora leadership threatening to rethink their support for the State of Israel.
A senior official of the Chicago Jewish federation and one of the most influential leaders in the American Jewish federation world was quoted stating that “the federation in Chicago will not be hosting any member of Knesset that votes for this bill. None. They will not be welcome in our community.” He added: “We’re past the time when we’re standing and applauding and being nice because they’re members of Knesset or because they hold this position or that position. In other words, Israel’s elected political leaders are not welcome in his community, and that he is calling for a boycott of Israel’s Knesset members. Again, all in the name of Jewish Unity. Declaring war against the government, lecturing to Israel about how Israeli society is intolerable while not living in Israel, while not being part of the daily effort to live with the complex reality here in Israel is nothing short of Chutzpah.
In response to many of the declarations made by American Jewish leaders, United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was quoted stating that “We will defeat our enemies. I have no doubt that we will defeat our enemies,” Friedman continued. “The question is: Can we survive ourselves?”, without identifying any particular organization. He was apparently referring to comments by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, who said in an Israeli TV interview that the repercussions of the Western Wall and conversion decisions could pose a strategic danger to the well-being of the State of Israel.
Yesterday, I heard something that I never thought I’d hear. And I understand the source of the frustration and the source of the anger. But I heard a major Jewish organization say that they needed to rethink their support for the State of Israel,” Friedman said at a B’nai B’rith journalism awards ceremony in Jerusalem. “That’s something unthinkable in my lifetime, up until yesterday.” Boycotts, questioning the legality of governmental decisions, encouraging members of Congress to threaten Israel to withdraw their support of Israel, are all strikingly similar in content and in language used by the BDS and anti- Israel movements in America that promote the de-legitimation of the State of Israel. For many liberal diaspora leaders, Israel in their minds, has become an “oppressor” of Jewish rights and have repeatedly attempted in recent days to brand Israel as an intolerant society.
What seems to escape these diaspora leaders is the very fabric of democratic life here in Israel. Their suggested dialogue is based on recriminations and false accusations suggesting that they can save Israel from itself so as to survive as a democratic state are at the crux of the threatening tone of these diaspora leaders. For these liberal Jewish leaders, the status of religious pluralism in Israel has become the defining lens through which unwarranted criticism about Israel becomes justified. Rather than perceiving Israel as representing the very embodiment of a moral world, the modern day torch bearers of the Western Democratic principle, they unjustly label Israel as undemocratic. Orthodox, Secular, Jews, Arabs, Veteran Israelis, new Immigrants all enjoy equal rights and are subject to judicial review should they feel that their democratic rights are being impinged. Israel’s Supreme Court of Appeals has adopted “judicial activism” in its orientation and is at the forefront of protecting the rights of all sectors of the population in Israel.
Dividing Israel into good cop, bad cop making out the ruling coalition an amalgamation of Dirty Harry and The Chosen so as to make Israel palatable to young liberal American Jews is avoiding the real issue at hand. The problem lies and here I can quote the arch Jewish liberal Peter Beinart when he writes that young liberal American Jews “are not especially connected to Israel because they are not especially connected to being Jewish". Supporting Israel including Jews who are Dat-Leumi or Haredi is messy, complicated, and raises to many questions concerning Jewish identity and Jewish affiliation. Israel that accepts the Reform and Conservative movements, Israel the start-up nation, is a Jewish nation agreeable to the palate of liberal American Jews who would prefer to remain Jewish from afar.
I can assure my liberal Jewish brethren in North America that most Israeli’s do not inhabit “tolerant Israel” or “intolerant Israel” but the vast landmass of “middle Israel”, the place where all Jews can live together providing maximum liberties and religious rights to those living in Israel. Only then can they demand “no taxation without representation”.
England’s Islamic Domino Effect
The current wave of Islamic terror in Manchester and in London only reinforces the general feeling that the excessive political correctness of recent years by the Obama presidency, by the British Labor party, and the European media has fostered and festered breeding grounds for Islamic terrorists in the heart of England. London’s current Mayor Sadiq Khan, a practicing Muslim, could have a significant impact on the minds and hearts of many of England’s young Muslims, if he decides to express what should have been said years ago to Muslims living in England and throughout the Western world by the very Muslims that have enjoyed the privileges and benefits of living and prospering in a Western nation.
In response to this week’s Islamic terror attack in the heart of London, Mayor Khan should have taken the initiative, using himself as a role model of what it means to be a Muslim in a Western nation. Mayor Sadiq Kahn is a practicing Muslim and regularly attends the Al-Muzzammil mosque in Tooting. He has two daughters, both raised in the Islamic faith. Khan could have forcibly reinforced the idea that practicing Muslims such as himself are modern citizens who happen to worship Allah, yet do not belong to any kind of belief in the preeminence of Sharia Law which clearly is based on the belief that Sharia Law must be imposed on others, Islamic terror being the logical extension of this imposition. Mayor Kahn could state that the former would not pose a threat to England or the Western lifestyle while the latter would be a “mortal threat.” The danger facing England and other Western nations from the Islamic wave sweeping the Middle East and beyond arises not from the fact that people practicing the Islamic religion are Muslim, but rather from the degree to which they adhere to the totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine of Sharia.
However, you don’t have to go back very far in Mayor Sadiq Khan’s past to find links with some pretty questionable characters. Some of these associations date back to his time as a human rights lawyer trying to get England to lift its ban on the American Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has described Jews as ‘blood-suckers’ and called Hitler ‘a very great man’, and speaking at the same conference as Sajeel Abu Ibrahim, a member of the now proscribed Islamist organization that trained the 7/7 bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan. In 2004, Sadiq Khan appeared on a platform with five Islamic extremists at a conference in London organized by Al-Aqsa, a group that has published works by the notorious Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. In, the same year, Khan was the chair of the Muslim Council of Britain’s legal affairs committee and was involved in defending the Muslim scholar Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. So, who is this Muslim scholar so vigorously defended by Sadiq Khan? Among other things, he’s the author of a book called The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam in which he justifies wife beating and discusses whether homosexuals should be killed. Most notoriously, he condones ‘martyrdom operations’, i.e. suicide bombings, against Israeli civilians, which he describes as ‘God’s justice’: ‘Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do.’ Despite holding these views, Qaradawi was not an ‘extremist’ in Sadiq Khan’s eyes. In 2006, by which time Sadiq Kahn had been elected to Parliament, Khan was one of the signatories of a letter to the Guardian that blamed terrorist incidents, such as 7/7, on British foreign policy, particularly Britain’s support for Israel. ‘It is our view that current British government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad,’
Khan can align himself with the call for tougher counterterrorism measures suggested by the British PM and be the first to demand that England must not pretend that things can remain the same. Khan can abandon the politically correct rhetoric about Islam and the legitimacy of terror to advance political goals. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, can be that agent of change that modern Islam so clearly needs.
Rebranding the Holocaust
This week, Israel will be commemorating not only the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust but also recall the untold stories of the many acts of Jewish resistance that occurred during this period throughout Europe; the Holocaust being the darkest period of Jewish history.
Yet in recent months, as the Holocaust has been cynically used as a backdrop for Jewish liberals in America to attack President Trump, it’s not surprising that in response to this partisan use of the Holocaust, more and more voices can be heard stating that it’s time for Jews to get over the Holocaust and suggest that now is the time for Jews to move on and stop making the Holocaust the most pivotal event in Jewish history.
With mass killings going on in recent years during Obama’s watch, many of his Democratic and liberal supporters have been suggesting that the Holocaust is unnecessarily singled out as if it’s more special than other historical events. They claim that although the Holocaust was on a much greater scale and horrifically well-organized, it was far from the first incident of a dominant power killing those deemed “inferior” on trumped up charges, and essentially not that different from what’s going on in the Middle East over the past 5 years, while the Obama admiration did nothing to stop the killing.
For many of these liberal “Tikkun Olam” Democrats, mankind has been perpetrating horrible atrocities on other human beings for centuries. They seem genuinely puzzled as to why Holocaust denial is even considered a crime in over a dozen countries. Surely, as far as they are concerned, this is an overreaction. Do we arrest those that believe and express the opinion that the world is flat? Why should denial of a historical event even be considered a crime, something detrimental to society?
Historical events, as earth-shattering and history-ending as they seem at the time, eventually fade from the forefront of public consciousness and become memory. When Holocaust survivors will no longer be around, and when there is no more opportunity to let children and educators hear firsthand testimony of the Holocaust, will the Holocaust be just another event studied in world history classes? With all of the effort that has gone into recording testimonies of the Holocaust be enough to preserve historical memory in terms of the magnitude and uniqueness of the Holocaust?
There are few historical events that have undergone greater scrutiny and preservation. Perhaps we can even acknowledge that we’ve done enough to ensure that the Holocaust can never be forgotten. In a moral world, in a world that differentiates between good and evil, right and wrong, this kind of preservation of historical memory would probably suffice. However, today in the age of globalization in which everything is viewed through the prism of cultural relativism, facts and evidence are not enough, the enemies of the Jews and of Israel not only claim that the Jews exaggerate and that the Holocaust was made up so as to justify the establishment of the State of Israel, but they take this one step further and falsely claim that Israel itself is implementing a Holocaust on the Arabs living within Judea and Samaria.
Sadly yet not surprising, many Jews are not immune from the politically correct trivialization of the Holocaust and acceptance of universalism as the intellectual context of interpreting world events. Yet, Jewish identity that ignores or belittles or "moves beyond" the systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish race seventy-five years ago cannot possibly fathom the significance and importance of the establishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish people made a conscience effort to rebuild out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Those that regard the Holocaust as just another unfortunate event cannot be depended on to understand that for modern Israel, in order to deal with existential threats, Israel must do whatever is necessary so that "never again" will not remain an empty slogan.
Those that depict the Holocaust as just another historical event should be reminded of what the Holocaust was all about. In Daniel Mendelsohn's recent The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million, he describes in detail the core horror of Nazi action in collaboration with locals in Bolechow, Poland, September 1942:
The story of Mrs. Grynberg was a horrible episode. The Ukrainians and Germans, who had broken into her house, found her giving birth. The weeping entreaties of bystanders didn't help and she was taken from her home in a nightshirt and dragged into the square in front of the town hall. There, she was dragged onto a dumpster in the yard of the town hall with a crowd of Ukrainians present, who cracked jokes and jeered and watched the pain of childbirth as she gave birth to a child. The child was immediately torn from her arms along with its umbilical cord and thrown - It was trampled by the crowd and she stood on her feet as blood poured out of her. She stood that way for a few hours by the wall of the town hall, afterwards she went with all the others to the train station where they loaded her into a carriage in a train to Belzec.
In every generation, the Jewish nation has had to deal with the threat of annihilation. In ancient Egypt, it seemed that the Jews would be gone. In ancient Persia, it looked like Haman would have his way and annihilate the Jewish nation. All of these so-called great empires have disappeared and against all odds, we, the Jewish nation are still around. Not just surviving, but thriving.
The enormity of the Holocaust, however, with the majority of European Jewry being systematically murdered, is a singular event that defies comparison in the last millennium. In retrospect, the Holocaust compels Jews to confront their own Jewishness. After such unspeakable events such as the one described above, every Jew must look inside themselves and consider: Hitler tried to exterminate my people and the world stood by in silence. Will I, through apathy and indifference, become a partner to Hitler? Or will my life convey a testimony to the glory of the Jewish people and its resurrection from the ashes? That is the real reason that it's not the time for Jews to "get over and move beyond" the Holocaust nor agree to rebrand the Holocaust as just another sad episode in world history.