I wasn’t planning on blogging this week, running around trying to get ready for my first trip back to New York since my aliyah, but I have so many thoughts and emotions bubbling up inside me, trying desperately to get out and be written down. It boils down to this: American Jews think they know what is best for Israel better than Israeli Jews. I know you have seen so many articles with exactly this premise, but as a former American Jew and current Israeli- American Jew, I feel my voice is somewhat unique. I have lived on both sides of this debate, and here’s my personal take.
I remember living in New York and being an ardent Zionist. I followed Israeli news as avidly as I did American news. I followed the political shenanigans and the wars. I followed the peace process and the Intifada. I followed the US-Israeli relationship from Clinton through Obama, all from the perspective of an American Jew who loved Israel and wanted what was best for it. And there were times when I agreed with what they did over there, and times that I vehemently disagreed. There were prime ministers I liked, and those I loathed (Olmert, Barak, Sharon after “the Disengagement.”) There were times worried for the country, and voiced that concern to friends and other Jews. There were times that I voiced concerns loudly and publicly. But during those times, there was always a stronger inner voice, one I remember vividly, that would say to me, “Oh, you’re so passionate, Brown? You know best? So go over there and live there. Then you can scream and protest. Until then, who are you to say how Israelis should vote/decide/live?” I always listened to that voice, because ultimately, I was living in my American bubble, safe from those decisions I made for the people of Israel, even though I always wanted what was best for them.
Unfortunately, over the past days since our election, the same cannot be said for my American brothers and sisters who choose to talk down to the Israeli public as if we are fools who can not be trusted to make decisions for our own country. Be it on social media, the mainstream media or the State Department itself, there is a gang of (I’m, assuming) well- meaning American Jews who, as if in a chorus of patronization, are demonizing both our democratically elected leadership and us morons who democratically elected them. They have been minimizing our vote, and they have been leaving us feeling abandoned at the UN. They have been railing against us at their “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” conferences and they have leaking threatening governmental action. And I know that were I still living in the US and the election had gone the other way, I mght be angry and I might be worried, but I would not be spending all my waking hours posting, blogging, opining and basically berating my Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel for their stupidity. Which is what so many members of the liberal Jewish-American brain trust have been doing since the election.
It is difficult for me to take this verbal punishment lying down for several reasons. One is because American Jews don’t actually live here. They did not run with me to the bomb shelters last summer. They did not fear standing at the light-rail station or a bus stop while Jerusalem was gripped by fear during a spate of terrorist attacks this past fall. They didn’t hear the constant sirens in Ashkelon and Sderot and fear for their safety as weeks became months. They weren’t ripped from their homes and greenhouses in Gush Katif, only to see them demolished and replaced by terrorist bases. They don’t live, work, raise children and enjoy life in Gush Etzion– which for anyone who has been there is not a vile mass of sinister settlements, but vibrant and beautiful group of Jewish cities. These well- meaning American Jews are not Europeans, worried about their own personal safety as Jews, and the possibility that mass Jewish emigration is imminent. They are ensconced in liberal and heavily Jewish bubbles in New York, Los Angeles and DC, and that is their reality.
It is easier to demonize Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who has figuratively and literally offered his life to the Jewish state, rather than shine a light on the extremely worrying fact that their own president has taken actions that can only be described as “against Israeli interests” consistently for the past seven years. Are liberal American Jews more beholden to the feelings of their president than they are to the leader of the Israeli people on matters pertaining to Israeli safety and well-being? Do they actually believe that a man who refuses to condemn terrorists in Iran, Syria and Europe cares more about the people of Israel than it’s own freely elected leader? Do they not see the possibility that Obama maybe doesn’t love Israel? That his well-documented position of supports a result of overwhelming American support for the Jewish state? Is none of what I’m saying even remotely possible? Or is it possible that American Jews are significantly more American than Jewish? Maybe they truly feel the safety and security of we Israeli Jews is worth sacrificing on the minuscule chance that peace can be achieved with our neighbors soon and in our time?
A lot has been said about Bibi’s comment that a two- state solution isn’t really possible right now. Many who hate him used this opportunity to point out what a racist, bigoted war-monger he is. Sure, ok, why not? But to the heart of what he said, please answer me this- who is our peace partner right now, clamoring for this peace process to continue? Is it Fatah- who refuses to recognize our existence and has a president on his 11th year of a four- year term? Or is it Hamas in Gaza- whose very charter calls for each and every Jew to take a one-way trip “into the sea”? And are these the same peace partners who have rejected every Israeli offer since 1994, including the release of thousands of known terrorists and a fully Judenrein Gaza strip? Why is the next offer the one they will finally accept? Why is creating a new Gaza in the West Bank the answer to the mystifying problem of the conflict? And why, most of all, do American Jews believe that they know better? That they have the answers, the key to our peaceful future? And before you wonder, I would feel exactly the same if I was one of those American Jews, living comfortably and safely in Queens, New York.
Maybe I have been rambling. Maybe I have been focusing on a small subsection of ire in a sea of Israeli support. Maybe when I get back to the States, I will be welcomed with love and well-wishes for my new home, and I will realize I have been worried over nothing. But I do know that whether I am here or there, I will continue support my fellow Israelis and the country where I have chosen to live- and that regardless of those who seek to patronize us or make us feel small, we are strong and we are proud and as always “Am Yisrael Chai- The Nation of Israel Lives.”