This is not about politics. This is not about salvation. This is about friendship and sensitivity, the golden rule, and the attempt to keep two Moose from smacking each other in the head.
Let us start with the Holy Land, again not internal politics, not Palestinians, just what it is. What it is is a tight squeeze. The squeeze is caused by a lot of families trying to occupy a small house. It is, to say the least uncomfortable. Yet if you read your literature you will find that the house’s first occupants, then called Palestinians, were in fact, the Jews. The rest, as it is said, is commentary, and a lot of it. Mind you neither the Hebrew Bible nor the Christian Bible say any different. Much more recently, when the mandate became statehood the Muslim states rejected what could have been, right then and there, at that very moment, a Palestinian State for the new Palestinians. War was declared instead. It was the first of a bunch, one launched by surprise on the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Thus when the America Jew feels a threat to Israel it tends to react like a mother defending her bear cub.
Frankly, this may seem odd. I would estimate that well over 80% of American Jews are anti-government and anti-Netanyahu. But remember this is not about politics. This 80 % deplore the conditions of the new Palestinians and the inequities between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis. Yet they know the numbers. A disaster of Holocaust proportions in Israel is the end of the Jewish people. Ironic. Hitler wins. Thus, when everything that is done is done slowly and with great care because the odds are worse than in Vegas. It was Arafat who said to his people, “Mothers, our wombs are our greatest weapons. Keep having as many children as you can bear (not stand but produce).
Here’s a story few know because it was suppressed in the news. I happen to have been in Israel when it happened. A Palestinian who worked in Israel at an oil refinery stole a tanker truck. In the middle of the night, he drove it to a complex of large apartment/condo buildings. He set it ablaze. Fortunately, he made a mistake. He had taken a tanker filled with diesel, not gasoline. It did not explode. Had it, the estimate that 10,000 families in a radius of several miles would have perished.
Then too American Jews don’t understand why the new Palestinians can’t get their act together. Does it serve the new Palestinians’ purpose to have two territories, separated by the land of Israel and two leadership structures both of whom can’t decide what they want to do first, destroy each other or destroy Israel? In retrospect maybe we should mourn the death of Yasir Arafat. A terrorist yes. A pragmatist looking for a place in history? That too.
Let’s stay with the house analogy. We have an old home built with many small rooms. We need that home to have a more open floor plan. We can’t make the house bigger but the Israelis have offered land swaps. After all, it is a no starter. Are you going to dismantle a city of over 30,000 people, with all its infrastructure, into its third or fourth generation of inhabitants (Ariel) because initially it was badly placed? No, but you can give up an equal amount of land elsewhere with money and technicians to start a Palestinian Ariel or whatever the people say they want. Saying “no” is cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.
That is not uncommon in that area. When the Israelis ceded the Gaza Strip they left, in pristine condition, one of the most technologically advanced hydroponic farms of greenhouses. It was capable of growing crops with almost no water. An offer of technical support went with it. As soon as the Israelis left, the complex was totally destroyed. That’s taking food from one’s children’s mouths.
Now let’s look at the other house, America. This is trickier because politics abounds all wrapped up in the phrase, “I’ve done more for Israel than any other President in history.” Let us look at that for a moment. This is mostly untrue. There are two facts on the ground though, the excoriation of Muslim Congresspersons and the Embassy. The Netanyahu government, which might be brought down in the coming election or might be brought down by what appears to be a coming indictment of the Prime Minister, has been dragged into American politics to no good.
The Netanyahu government, like most parliamentary democracies, is cobbled together by many parties. This current government is heavily weighted to the right with the support of the ultra-religious parties. While not quite analogous to our Electoral College problem, Israel has a government that caters to parties espousing a religiosity that the majority of Israelis want no part of. So the question to you is this: are you supporting Israel for religious purposes or democratic purposes? The answer may be critical to the long term stability of the state.
Then there is the move of the Embassy. It is indisputable that Israel has been insulted by the world community by having foreign embassies, mostly, located in Tel Aviv. Embassies should go in capital cities. While the US acknowledges this, it has made the Embassy carrot in a fight mostly made up of sticks. Except for symbolism, what does the moving of the Embassy do for Israel? Not much. First, it will be years before it replaces the one in Tel Aviv. Moving an Embassy, especially in that area, isn’t like moving your family from one house to the other. Just think technology and security. It makes Israel less safe, more prone to terrorist acts. Is that what you want, to trade symbolism for lives?
Worse still it appears that the quid pro quo for doing this was to garner Israeli support for the current US administration, which in turn it is assumed will then turn to American Jewry to do something it has never done, vote Republican. Even after the WW ll when the legendary DD Eisenhower ran for president he didn’t get a majority of American Jewish votes. American Jews routinely vote 80% or more for Democrats. I’m not going to explain why but if you don’t know, you should study up on it and find out. I am going to tell you two things. Every Shabbat every Jewish congregation says a prayer for the government it lives under; that’s every congregation in the world. And secondly, when Jews historically have involved themselves in the deep and dirty of politics it turns out badly for them. Again, study up on it.
Ever hear the expression killing someone or something with kindness. G-d bless you for your support of Israel but don’t be the mother, who out of love, sleeps with her child then smothers it to death when she rolls over.
The answer? If I had one I’d be in Washington. We can start though with keeping American politics out of Israel and Israeli politics out of America–at least from my perspective.
Struggling with Bronchitis Bill Gralnick has coughed up these thoughts in this way because sometimes simple is the best way to think.
Prayers for our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas. Be smart and safe everyone else in Dorian’s path.
Bill has proofed a copy of his new book’s proof copy. The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales from Brooklyn is a fun read and should be available to you in about 3 weeks.
And as always he reminds you, “Read! It’s good for both of us.”