Latest update: May 2nd, 2013
The special relationship between Israel and the U.S. is not a cliché. Polls and in-depth surveys repeatedly show that America relates to Israel positively in the most fundamental way – despite, to the contrary, the tireless efforts of the Jews influencing the New York Times and Haaretz.
We share common values, based on the Bible. America’s Founding Fathers saw their new country as a rebirth of the nation of liberty and its universal message. These common goals should have been the basis for the relationship between Israel and the U.S. “And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you shall be cursed,” God says to Abraham. That is the motto of some 80 million American Evangelicals who are convinced that American prosperity is contingent on its significant alliance with Israel. Hardship, they believe, happens when the U.S. takes a stand against Israel.
But instead of reinforcing our status as the eternal People of the Book and the source of American values, we Israelis have chosen to market ourselves as a young nation searching for its place among the established nations and under their patronage. Our relationship with the U.S. has become – through our own volition – a father-son relationship.
American aid, merely 1.5 percent of Israel’s income, is not something Israel really needs. In the long run, it harms us economically, politically and militarily. But our insistence on receiving it stems from a psychological need. When our pocket money continues to roll in from across the ocean, it shows that “Father” is still there and that we are not alone among the nations. When we try to escape from our Father in Heaven, we must look for a weak replica in foreign lands.
This flawed mentality was the source of the “Obamania” that we experienced during President Obama’s recent visit to Israel. Thus, relations that could have been based on shared values were instead based on dependence.
Israel, fleeing its identity and constantly evading open adoption of those common goals, has consistently based its connection with the U.S. on a completely different foundation. The main goal that we touted was our right to self-defense. Instead of the Shrine of the Book and sites that attest to our biblical foundations here in Israel, our honored guests are always taken to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem. After viewing those horrific images, nobody was supposed to be able to ask any questions. That was good for us; no need to deal with the questions of our identity and the justice of our national existence in this land.
But the Holocaust “lemon” has been completely squeezed out. A new generation has risen in Europe, a generation that is no longer willing to pay for the sins of its predecessors with silence. This generation sees the Palestinians demanding justice as the new Jews, bereft of a homeland, while they view the Israelis who demand security as the new Nazis.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence on restoring the focal point of Obama’s visit from the Holocaust Museum to our deep historical foundations in Israel; his assertive speech in the U.S. in which he explained that Yad Vashem is not the foundation of our existence; rounding out this approach by bringing President Obama to the Shrine of the Book; the explanation that Obama received there that every Israeli child can read what his forefathers wrote here over 2,000 years ago – were, in my opinion, the most important accomplishments of Obama’s visit.
I was in the Channel 2 studio when Professor Shalom Rosenberg of the Shrine of the Book explained to the viewers what the American president was looking at, at that very moment.
“You don’t have a Palestinian scroll to show him?” I asked, unable to withhold my thought. “Not from 1,000 years ago, not from 100 years ago, or less than that. Nothing?”
The professor shifted his weight uncomfortably.
“This is the most important outcome of Obama’s visit and Netanyahu’s major accomplishment,” I said. “It is not about Obama, but first and foremost about Israeli society that has been trained to see Auschwitz as the justification for our existence.”
Who knows? Maybe next time we will take our visiting VIPs to the altar built by Yehoshua bin Nun on Mount Eval just 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt. The Dead Sea Scrolls are certainly important. But our history in this land does not begin 2,000 years ago. It begins more than 3,300 years ago.
True, 93 percent of the biblical sites in Israel are in the areas earmarked for the two-state solution. But what can we do? The place that gives meaning to our national existence, the focal point of our longing and our destiny, is also there. I speak of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu made an invaluable turnabout in the way Israel explains itself. We must complete that turnabout. We must not go half way.
This column was translated from the Hebrew version, which appeared in Makor Rishon.
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Israel's Security and Defense Committee. He heads the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of Israel's governing Likud party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.
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