I have been lecturing widely on the risks which the Road Map poses to Israel. Yet, whenever I complete my largely analytic examination of the issues, I am left with a vague feeling of discomfort – a feeling that I have left my audience without enough concrete recommendations for practical action. With this in mind, I now offer the following precise answers to the important question: “But what can I do personally to help save Israel?”
1. Above all, let us never be indifferent to the fate of our fellow Jews in Israel. It is unseemly, to say the least, to continue with our regular entertainments while Israelis are being slaughtered in their own streets by Arab terrorists. I am always troubled, and surprised, that only hours after the latest suicide bomb attack, Jewish friends and acquaintances speak entirely of their vacations, their accomplishments, and their planned shopping expeditions. It’s as if the broad community of Israel, the People of Israel, are merely a minor and dispassionate concern. We need to care more, and to pay attention.
As parents, moreover, we must be sure to share this identification and attachment to our brothers in Israel with our children. If our children are college students, we must awaken them to the obligation and the blessing to see themselves as Jews and to partake meaningfully of Jewish campus life wherever possible. Here at Purdue University, I am the Faculty Advisor for Israel Council at Purdue (ICAP), a pro-Israel advocacy group whose members are predominantly non-Jews. For the most part, our Jewish students don’t want to seem “too Jewish.” For them, “fitting in” is substantially more important.
2. We must all act to oppose existential pressures upon Israel, in every customary and permissible fashion available in democratic societies. The Road Map, like Oslo before it, is an example of such misconceived and inexcusable pressures. It represents nothing less than an Arab “Trojan Horse,” a device to complete Israel’s Final Solution. The Arabs say so themselves, overtly and repeatedly. What more do we need to hear?
3. We must begin to increase our cooperation with America’s Christian Zionists. Many millions
strong, these good people of faith believe, genuinely, in G-d’s promise to Israel. Indeed, their commitment to Israel’s peace and security often exceeds that of most American Jews. Personally, I have been deeply impressed and deeply moved by their unselfish devotion to Israel. And without them, our political voice in the land would assuredly be too weak. Already, the number of Islamic-Americans exceeds the number of American Jews. Wonderful people and organizations – Esther Levens of the National Unity Coalition and Dick Hellman of Christians For Israel Political Action Committee (CIPAC) – are entirely devoted to the cause.
4. We must recognize, publicly, the unique and unforgivable barbarism of Palestinian terrorism.
It can never be acceptable to try to justify Palestinian suicide-bombers by citing to rights of
“self-determination” or “national liberation.” Leaving aside the inherently flawed argument that Palestinians “deserve” a state, neither international law nor ordinary standards of decency can ever allow deliberate murder of Jewish children. In this connection, the Jewish inclination to “fairness” often goes much too far. Rest assured that in a world of over one billion Muslims, fewer than a handful would ever speak of Jewish rights – including even the minimal right not to be maimed and murdered in schools or buses.
5. We must recognize, immediately, that there is no “cycle of violence” in the Middle East, only
endless Arab terror followed by indispensable counter-terror. If the Arabs were to stop their murderous attacks on unprotected civilians, the Israelis would never lift a hand against them. If, however, the Israelis should ever stop defending themselves, the Arabs would murder every Jew in “Occupied Palestine.” In response to Palestinian arguments that there is “equivalence” between Arab terror and Israeli counter-terror, we must always recall an essential difference between premeditated murder and required national self-defense.
6. We must learn to read beyond the main-stream press, which is often ignorant of facts on the
ground, or – worse – maliciously inclined toward Israel’s enemies. In this connection, American Jews must really learn history – Jewish history; Israel’s history; Arab history. Presently, because there is so much historical ignorance amongst us, that Arab propagandists and their allies normally have an easy time debating the issues. As a professor, I see the difference every day between the intellectual preparedness of the Jewish students regarding history, which is generally weak, and that of the Arab students, which is usually far stronger.
As a beginning, every American Jew should now be reading The Jewish Press and considering vital internet sources such as the Gamla, Arutz-7, Tzemach and Freeman Center websites.
7. We must ALL be willing to speak and write in defense of Israel. This is not just the responsibility of the professors. Heaven forbid: if it were, we would be hearing even more about the evils of Israel’s “occupation” of “Arab land.” Here in West Lafayette, Indiana – in my own synagogue – not a single Jewish soul makes a sound about Israel’s survival. Not in the synagogue; not in the wider community. Not a peep; not even a whisper. Nowhere is it written that Jewish doctors, Jewish lawyers, Jewish dentists, Jewish accountants, Jewish furniture dealers, Jewish plumbers cannot speak openly and audibly for Israel. The argument that “I don’t know enough” is simply wrong and inexcusable. If you don’t know enough, make it your business to know more. Now. And if you fear that it will be “bad for business,” be ashamed of yourself ? justifiably ashamed of your cowardice and demeaned Jewish spirit.
8. We must encourage each other to undertake serious intellectual examinations of the issues, and to exercise imaginative thinking for solutions. To a significant extent, the survival problems faced by Israel have an important intellectual dimension. For example, how to achieve any sort of reconciliation with the Palestinians must draw upon difficult conceptual explorations of both
culture and trust. Similarly, as Israel will soon face expanding weapons of mass destruction among some of its state enemies, its leaders will have to figure out optimal strategies of deterrence, defense and preemption.
As Chair of Project Daniel, a small advisory group to the Prime Minister concerned with chemical/biological/nuclear threats to Israel, I can testify to the difficulty of the intellectual tasks before us. Don’t think if you are not a Ph.D. strategist or a member of the IDF General Staff that you are necessarily incapable of making useful observations.
9. We must recognize that Israel now faces – and has always faced – a genuine genocide from its many enemies. It is true, thankfully, that we Jews now have a state to prevent a repeat Holocaust. But it is also true and intolerably ironic that war can now become the instrument of another Jewish genocide. It is now possible to bring gas to the people; it is no longer necessary to bring people to the gas. More-over, the Arab side has never been subtle about its plans to “liquidate” the Jews (the term they have favored since 1948) and we can assume that if left unchallenged, they will at some point have both genocidal capability and genocidal intent.
Keep in mind here that Israel is half the size of Lake Michigan, and that its Jewish population is largely concentrated along a tiny coastal section of the microscopic country. Keep in mind also that Arab clerics in mosques throughout the Islamic world insist in their weekly sermons that Allah has concentrated the Jews in Israel precisely to facilitate their next annihilation.
10. We must always recall that memory is the heart of redemption and that we are obligated –
strongly obligated – never to forget, to honor the souls of the Six Million, of the kedoshim. To do this we must never separate ourselves from the fate of our brothers and sisters in Israel. If necessary – and this is critical – we must sometimes oppose the Jewish establishment in the United States. Let us recall that this Jewish establishment was largely silent during the Holocaust, and that it insisted upon support for Oslo even when it was apparent that Israel’s good intentions would forever be unreciprocated. Nor should we ever assume that Jewish candidates for public office are necessarily good for the Jews or good for Israel, or even that they are honorable or capable in general. Senator Joseph Lieberman is a case in point, a Clinton-like politician who believes only in himself.
Rabbi Eliezer Waldman has written importantly in The Jewish Press of “the eternal flame of Jewish life in Israel.” By working for the redemption of Israel, Rabbi Waldman instructs, we work to bring a blessing to all the peoples of the world. It follows that we Jews in this country ought never to see a contradiction between our struggle for Jewish survival in the land of Israel, and our concern for both America and the wider global community. Following Rabbi Waldman’s moving call upon Jewish leaders “to draw their faith from the depths of the Jewish soul,” we must now ALL begin to draw our faith from that very same eternal and inextinguishable source. Only then can we begin to act personally to help save the imperiled State of Israel.
Copyright 2003 The Jewish Press. All rights reserved.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and publishes widely on Israeli security issues. He is Strategic and Military Affairs Analyst for The Jewish Press.