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Let's be optimistic

Synagogues are being vandalized. Jews are being attacked. University professors and student governments endorse boycotts of Israel and call IDF soldiers “war criminals.” The UN singles out Israel time and again for criticism as Iran and its proxies threaten to wipe Israel off the map.

We stare in horror at the headlines. Media bias against Israel rages out of control while the leaders of most Jewish organizations are reduced to paralysis, focus on nonsense, or – tragically and shamefully – side with our enemies.

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Seeing all these developments, a chorus of pundits predict doom and gloom. Many friends of Israel think the world has gone mad while “experts” see all signs pointing to catastrophe ahead.

I disagree. I believe 2021 could prove to be a decisive year for Zionism in America, and it’s up to those of us who consider ourselves Zionists to decide whether to be incapacitated by worry or move forward with confidence.

I see more cause to be optimistic than not for the following three reasons:

1) U.S. Zionists are better organized than they have been in a very long time, and American Jews want to participate in Zionist affairs. More than double the number of people voted in the 2020 World Zionist Congress (WZC) elections than did in the last WZC election in 2015. The WZC campaign season was vibrant and highly competitive, featuring televised debates on JBS TV and unprecedented excitement and activity.

2) Ninety-seven U.S. senators voted on February 4 to support an amendment that called for the U.S. Embassy in Israel to remain right where it is: in Jerusalem. I’ll take a 97 percent win for Zionism any day.

3) Israelis in poll after poll voice their belief that relinquishing Judea and Samaria to the perennially hostile and extremely corrupt Palestinian Authority is dangerous, and they aren’t supporting political parties in Israel that cling to this dangerous scheme.

Israelis see the terror statelet in Gaza for what it has become: the greatest illustration of why Israel can no longer entertain talk of a two-state solution. Imagine what the rocket attacks against Israel the last 15 years would have looked like if the people behind them had been – not Gazan terrorists – but West Bank terrorists, acting from inside a Palestinian Arab state in the West Bank adjacent to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Ben Gurion airport.

Of course, there is much work to do, but Israel and its friends in the U.S. should feel encouraged. Israel’s military and economy remain strong and the Jewish state has many friends. CUFI (Christians United For Israel), for example, currently reports over 10 million members in the U.S. alone.

The Bloomberg Innovation Index published in early February ranked Israel seventh among the most innovative countries in the world, and last year Israel developed formal diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco – the first breakthroughs with members of the Arab League since 1994.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote his greatest novel about the Biblical hero Samson. In the most well-known passage of the book, Samson declares: “Tell [the Jewish people] three things in my name, and not two: they must get iron [i.e., weapons]; they must choose a king; and they must learn to laugh.”

What Jabotinsky meant in part by “learn to laugh” was: Develop national confidence. We American Zionists must be confident in order to be as effective as possible.

We must focus our attention on multiple vital matters – from supporting pro-Israel students on campus to improving community-based Zionist education to building consensus on Capitol Hill. And we must trust our abilities and the correctness of our cause. Nothing less will do.

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Moshe Phillips is national director of Herut North America’s U.S. division. Herut is an international movement for Zionist pride and education and is dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War II Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Herut's website is www.herutna.org.
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