Israel Still Needs International Validation
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski’s analysis of AIPAC’s changing strategy (“AIPAC Hits Middle Age,” May 27) was informative and thought-provoking about the need to change tactics of advocacy for Israel as the times change.
I would like to take issue with only one of his statements. In all fairness, I will note his statement that “Israel no longer needs supporters who proclaim its right to exist and nothing more [italics mine.].” The rest of the paragraph, however, illustrates his contention in the very next line that “Israel exists and it doesn’t need anyone to validate it.”
It seems to me, to the contrary, that he illustrates a much different conclusion in the following examples he notes: Israel needs every bit as much international validation as it did in 1948 – maybe even more. Iran, the Palestinians, terrorist organizations funded by Iran, leftist political parties, and an ever more vocal left wing of our Democratic Party, not to mention educational institutions and mainline Protestant denominations, are very explicit and vehement in their insistence that Israel does not in fact have any right to exist. You will recall that Palestinian school children learn their geography with maps that do not include a nation of Israel.
This alleged illegitimacy remains the implicit goal of anti-Israel measures in the U.N., the BDS movement and organizations like Black Lives Matter. The opponents of Israel, stymied militarily in their efforts to physically destroy Medinat Yisrael (and its Jewish population) turned to influencing the Western press, NGO’s, mainline churches, and universities to support this goal. These in turn work to turn public opinion against Israel. Sadly, the contemporary cancel culture has given new life to the idea that Israel should not exist as a nation, and therefore any actions Israel takes in its defense and defense of the lives of its citizens are to be considered oppression at best, and aggression at worst.
Sure, the Abraham Accords were a significant development and there are hopeful signs other Arab states may be reconsidering their opposition to Israel and support of the Palestinians. Elsewhere in the same Jewish Press issue, for instance, it was noted that Somalia was the only Arab country to vote against the most recent anti-Israel U.N. measure. Yet Somalia still has not formally and publicly recognized Israel despite carrying on very secret meetings with Israel for the past several years. Also consider that Israel is ever more vehemently condemned in the press when it defends itself from Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Apparently, it is still considered playing foul when Jews fight back.
Until the status quo changes broadly and meaningfully and more key Arab nations provide public support for Israel, I cannot share Rabbi Pilichowski’s optimism that Israel’s right to exist and defend itself are “obvious facts.” It seems to me it those facts are increasingly less obvious, sadly, to a growing number of American influencers.
If Jews Don’t Defend Themselves, Who Will?
Jews comprise only about two percent of the population of the United States, yet the FBI reports that 55 percent of all hate crimes are against Jews. We are in the midst of an alarming increase in antisemitism in the U.S. as well as in the rest of the world.
Throughout history the Jewish response to this type of assault has always been the same, which I call the three Cs: Complain, Cower, Continue on. Unfortunately, the result has always led to the same fourth “C”: Catastrophe. Existing police forces either won’t or can’t stop the violence. In only one country in the world have Jews defended themselves – in Israel, and it is time we all learned to emulate that successful model instead of historically disastrous ones.
Today, most shuls, schools, and Jewish organizations in the U.S. have some sort of security committee, and may also have members with arms training like armed forces veterans, and trained police and security agents, or consultants. However, they are individual and isolated units. In the past, sporadic attempts were made to form defensive units like the JDL (Jewish Defense League) but these attempts are too small, limited, and local to make any appreciable dent in the face of today’s widespread violence.
By contrast, in Israel many in the populace are always armed and ready to counteract terrorist violence, and they do so very often and effectively. Taking a cue from them, I think it is time for individual synagogues and organizations to start coordinating and forming larger united groups that could be a formidable and effective deterrent force. Existing major Jewish organizations are not doing that.
Two factors may deter organizing a defense against general widespread violence. The first is today’s hysteria – confined only to gun violence – where there is a myopic focus is on the guns rather than the violence. Here it is well to point out that the two most catastrophic terrorist acts in American history were carried out not by guns but by planes (as in 9-11) and explosives (as in the Oklahoma bombing). Also, in Israel, most acts of terror are by rockets, stabbings, arson and vehicles.
The second deterrent to organizing Jewish defense groups is the probable opposition to using civilians in a perceived vigilante-type role instead of established police units. Again, it is well to point out that established police units do not seem to be able or willing to stem the violence on their own. More effort is needed by the citizens themselves to aid in their defense, as in Israel.
If Jews are serious about stopping violence against them, they must shed their historically passive role as perennial victims, and begin assuming a more aggressive role in defending themselves.
Highland Park, NJ
Beware Gratuitous Refunds
I’m sending a letter about a scam I stupidly fell for, which your Finance columnist might be able to use, quoting me either directly or indirectly.
Dear The Jewish Press Finance columnist,
I relocated to Oaxaca, Mexico, and have received my residencia permanente mexicana, here “at the end of the Southwest,” to paraphrase Yehudah Halevi. Our people owe much gratitude to Mexico for saving 40,000 refugees from Hitler when other countries turned their backs on us.
Though I don’t think I’m the most gullible person in the world, I fell for a scam that I think it is meaningful to describe for your readers.
I had been in the process of tidying up my accounts, including renewing yearly online subscriptions and canceling others, when I received a notice re McAfee firewall protection – which undoubtedly did not come from McAfee at all – that my money for an automatic yearly renewal had already been deducted from my checking account and that I should contact them to cancel my renewal and get a refund.
The amount in question was $499.95; but in a form that the scammer forwarded to me he inserted an extra 9 (which slipped my notice), and requested a refund for me of $4999.50. Not noticing the extra “9,” I signed the refund request, and – presto! – the scammer sent me a fake image of a bank record indicating that $4999.50 had been deposited into my checking account and demanded that I had to help him retrieve that money out of other funds of mine.
I am ashamed to tell you how many of my credit card accounts, which I changed forthwith, got compromised in that way. My bank’s Fraud Department took charge immediately, canceled both my checking and savings accounts, and opened up new ones for me.
My advice for readers is to beware of those who promise refunds.
Ed Yitshaq Levenson