Chuck Hagel was just confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense in Obama’s administration. The media having shed plenty of light on his controversial views on Israel, Iran and the Middle-East at large, didn’t stop 58 Senators—which included four Republicans—from confirming him. One of those Republicans was the supposedly pro-Israel Rand Paul of Kentucky.
A close friend of mine—who is a staunchly pro-Israel non-Jew—expressed shock and disappointment upon hearing the news of his vote. But as we’ve learned from the story of Purim (and frankly most Jewish holidays), just when the situation looks bleak, everything is for the best in the long run.
As we’ve come to find out, Chuck Hagel’s views on Israel are not in the norm in the Republican Party. Quotes such as “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” isn’t something you’d hear from an aspiring Secretary of Defense. At least not since Secretary of State James Baker’s “f— the Jews” comment some 25 years ago.
But again, just when the situation looks dire, everything is for the best. The entirety of his quote on the “Jewish lobby”—which maybe was in fact a misnomer on his part and he meant the Israel lobby—was “The political reality is that… the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here…. I’ve always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel.”
You know what? In a way, he’s right. AIPAC, which is by and large a secular organization and the biggest Israel lobbying organization in America, has in fact done less for ‘hasbara’ or Israel advocacy movement and more to foment anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment in America. The only venture they’ve succeeded in is raising capital in the name of Israel. This falsely leads people to believe that the “Jewish lobby” does in fact control American foreign policy, and it plays into the greater idea of Jews secretly controlling every aspect of American lives from cradle to the grave. AIPAC is helping the Protocols of the Elders of Zion come to life, to the tune of $3 billion annually.
And this fund-raising comes at a heavy price. The result being that when America says jump, Israel has to say how high. Therefore, Israel can never take care of business in a real way when it comes to the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah. Moreover, when it comes to Iron Dome, America cashes in on the very conflict which it is at best complicit with and at worst actively foments. In the long run, it’s economically not worth it for America if there’s peace in this part of the world. See: America’s arming of “rebels” in Libya and Syria.
In the case of Israel, any American administration official or bureaucrat with half a brain would by now come to understand that the true path to peace between cousin Isaac and cousin Ishmael is having Israel not give away land, because the Arab nation, when given an inch, they usually tend to demand a yard or more. And America insists on asking Israel to give that inch every single time and Israel gets nothing in return. So either the U.S. administration is daft and still hasn’t fully grasped how things work in the Middle East or they understand it and are deliberately trying to shrink Israel. (Disclaimer #1: One has a choice. One can say I’m making a sweeping generalization based on race or one can open up the history books and see the results for themselves).
For more proof see: The Oslo Accords under Clinton, Gush Katif under George W. Bush (of all people), Jimmy Carter’s book on “Israeli apartheid,” which was the intellectual inspiration for the BDS movement. Reagan suspending a shipment of military aircraft to Israel, and harshly criticizing Israel after the bombing of the Osirak reactor near Baghdad, as well as contemplating sanctions to stop the Israeli siege of Beirut. The list goes on of “bright ideas” America has given Israel and/or has propagated about it, only to result intifadas and rocket attacks.
So when it comes to Rand Paul’s vote, he feels the same way as I do. That the financial (but not moral and social) relationship between Israel and America needs to end. Not immediately but in stages. The result would be Israel handling their business as they see fit. The result would be no Hillary Clinton making 11th hour “cease-fire”—or what in Islam is called a ‘hudna,’ which is a temporary cessation of hostilities for the purpose of re-armament—deals with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is nothing more than a temporarily self-restraining and more sophisticated Egyptian version of Hamas. We witnessed the result just this week with rockets being hurled at Ashkelon so as to provoke Israel into conflict shortly before President Obama’s visit.
As for advocacy, the best hasbara we can do is perform Mitzvot, i.e. commandments and build a third Temple. Being a light onto the nations means to be a “spiritual light.” I can attest from personal experience, that on a sub-conscious level, civilized people (that is, those who aren’t anti-Semites) for the most part aren’t really concerned or know that we create all this hi-tech or save lives. Those are all great things. Being the first country to set up a hospital after the Haiti earthquake is a great thing. Creating an x-ray in the form of a pill is a great thing. Creating life-saving medicine is a great thing. Helping people connect across continents is a fantastic thing. But that’s ultimately not what the world wants from us…again, on a sub-conscious level.
The nations are looking at us and thinking back to the childhood or Hollywood stories of “chosen people” and instead are seeing self-loathing and world-loathing Larry David and Woody Allen types all over their television screens…and they begin to think “chosen for what purpose exactly? Annoy us to death?” (Disclaimer #2: I love Curb Your Enthusiasm).
Whenever I see a non-Jewish tourism at the Kotel observing us as we bring in Shabbat, I can see the hope in their eyes. I can see that they are waiting for something to happen. They are waiting for us to bring light into the world and all of the evil, corruption and suffering to dissipate in the blink of an eye…simply because a few Jews are dancing and singing on a Friday at twilight, front this tiny sliver of archaeological ruin which just happens to be the outer wall of the outer wall of what used to be their Temple. This is the best hasbara. Not our micro-chips or pills, and not the endless supply of Nobel prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math and Economics.
The best thing we can do is educate the next generation on what the source of our light in the world is. We can still do all of those wonderful things listed, but only our collective spiritual elevation will allow the nations to see that we’re actually doing them. Our earthly accomplishments will shine through that much brighter via the mitzvot. Not via political campaigns, clever videos, conferences, websites or summits. And as for our financial independence from the greatest super-power known to mankind…in looking at our history, the only time Israel was truly respected, even by America, was when it trusted in God and did what it had to do.
Visit Israel Unseen, where a version of this article was originally published under the title, “Hi-Tech Hasbarah and the Incredible Shrinking Israel.”
About the Author: Greg Lauren was born in Ukraine and grew up in the NYC metro area. After working as a trader on Wall St. for 8 years, he made aliyah in 2010. Now living in Jerusalem, he runs the blog IsraelUnseen.com, where he educates young Jews about Israel, the Middle East and Judaism. His ultimate goal is to inspire young Jews to seek out their spiritual heritage and become interested in Judaism in a way that's connected to the Land of Israel itself, then visit independently and even consider moving here.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.
If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.