For the past few years, (both before I returned to Israel and the years since), I have had an ongoing disagreement with some of my American Jewish friends about J-Street and other left-wing Jewish groups that have been critical of Israel. Let me say – from the start – that I stand firmly on the left of the Israeli political spectrum. I voted for Meretz in the last election, and (other than this past week), I have never been a supporter of Prime Minister Netanyahu. However, any lingering sympathy I had for J-Street, or others from the U.S. who are critical of Israel, has dissipated in the past few days.
This morning Allison Kaplan Sommers wrote an article announcing that J-Street pulls sponsorship from Pro Israel Rally in Boston. According to Kaplan Sommers, J-Street pulled their support of the rally because there was “no voice for our concerns about the loss of human life on both sides”. This article came on the heels of may anger at Peter Beinhart last night. I follow Beinhart on Twitter, (I follow about 140 people worldwide) and have been frustrated by the fact that the only items he has retweeted to date were articles and tweets critical of Israel. Never a tweet from the IDF, nor even from any non-official pro-Israel source.
Now I realize the nature of the vast gulf between me (and most of the rest of the Israeli left) and the American Jewish critics, who claim to be pro-Israel. To us, the current war with Hamas is a just war. We may not support our government all the time. However, when a war begins; a war we did not start and did not want, we support the government and our soldiers. Yes, I profoundly regret the loss of human life in Gaza, but quite frankly when “children” I know are fighting in Gaza and rockets are being fired on them from homes in which civilians are likely located (civilians who were given many warnings to leave) I prefer that the Air Force send a missile into that building, instead of having one of our boys killed by an RPG fired from that same building. In this case I feel deep sadness about the innocents that may die, but I know we have no choice.
I watch on TV as Gaza based terrorists emerge from tunnels prepared to attack a Kibbutz and kill whoever is there. I run to shelter when the sirens go off as missiles head towards me. I know Hamas would celebrate if my family and I were killed by an incoming missile. However, that will not happen because we have spent the time and money to develop Iron Dome.
Decisions in this world are usually a spectrum of shades of grey – but this time it is not. The morality of our current conflict is black and white. If J-Street and Peter Beinhart do not understand that, I do not need their advice on other matters. I also oppose our settlements in the West Bank and would be willing to go very far to achieve a peace that I have serious doubts is obtainable. However, if our “friends” in the Jewish community hope to have any say about our future, they must learn to understand us in times like this. Otherwise, please keep your judgements to yourselves. Somehow we here in Israel will sort out our future ourselves.