One of the primary assumptions on the anti-Zionist Left is that Israel and the Jewish people have virtually nothing to do with one another and, therefore, no matter what horrible things you say about the Jewish state, this is not meant to convey anything negative toward the Jewish people.
Of the various “big lies” that inform I-P discourse, this is among the most prominent and least discussed. It represents a general background which is so pervasive it just fades into the wallpaper.
The problem, of course, is that it is a lie. The notion is entirely false. The fact of the matter is that Israeli Jews and diaspora Jews are brothers and sisters. We stand together, even in disagreement, and we do so under the name of Israel. We, as a people, are Israel. Israel is the Jewish state and it is the Jewish people. We may agree or disagree with the policies of the Jewish state, but almost to a person we support Israel, stand with Israel, and stand with our fellow Jews.
I know, of course, that there are any number of Jewish anti-Zionists or Israel Haters that “progressives” can point to in order to justify their malice, but the vast majority of Jews, both Israeli and diaspora, feel more or less like I do.
We support one another, particularly when we perceive ourselves as under siege and make no mistake, Israel is very clearly under siege. In the modern Middle East Jews have been under siege for one hundred years. The Long War Against the Jews began in the 1920s when the Mufti instigated Arab riots against us and it continues to this day.
For this reason we need very much not to demonize one another based on our varied political positions. I often criticize, and even berate, the Jewish liberal left, but I come out of the Jewish liberal left. In fact, to be more accurate, I would say that I just come out of the Left, because “Jewish” was not so important to me until I realized the extent of the challenge that we continue to face as a people.
Therefore, we need to understand that pro-Israel Jewish conservatives, such as, say, Netanyahu or David Horowitz, or whoever, are not our enemies. They are friends that we may disagree with on policy, but they want essentially what Jewish liberals want. They want peace. The problem, obviously, is that they disagree with Jewish liberals on how to get there. But let that disagreement be a disagreement among friends. Let us encourage the Jewish Right to understand the good intentions of the Jewish Left, but let the Jewish Left also understand the good intentions of the Jewish Right and let us reach out to one another during a period of rising danger.
Finally, we also must understand who our non-Jewish friends are and who they are not. This is a very important point because many, many people on the progressive-left are trying their hardest to sell us on the idea that our friends are our enemies and our enemies are our friends.
Do not buy into this.
Keep it relatively simple. If they speak nicely toward the Jews and the Jewish state then they are friends. If they defame the Jewish state, and by extension the Jewish people, then they are not our friends.
It’s not particularly complex, nor should it be. Our friends will criticize, but our enemies will demonize. That’s the difference. And if our friends fail to criticize, you can be sure that we will do a fine and dandy job of criticizing ourselves, thank you very much. Jews are probably the most self-critical people on the entire planet. (Too much so, in my opinion.)
One striking example of unrequited friendship toward us, of course, is the American Evangelical community. Those people are NOT our enemy. They simply are not. We may disagree with them about a woman’s right to choose an abortion or about the right of marriage for Gay people, but this does not change the fact that the Evangelical community is probably the best non-Jewish friends that Israel has anywhere in the world.
I know that many of you think that the Evangelicals only care about Israel out of some malicious and crazed End of Days theological framework, but if you believe this then you simply do not understand the Evangelicals.
Maybe I will write more on them at some later date.
Peace to you, please.
By the way, here is a link to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. It’s a video of him speaking about his work with Evangelicals with Rabbi Mark Golub, the wise and friendly host of Shalom TV, and runs about 45 minutes.
If you can take the time you should check it out, because his insights are important… despite Rabbi Golub’s too lengthy introduction.
Mike Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.