If you would ask the average Israeli, even the one living in America, what Independence Day means to him besides Macy’s Parade, Fireworks and BBQs in the Hamptons, he would probably tell you “not much”. And to be honest, I would have answered the same about a month ago…
It’s not because Israelis are selfish, ungrateful or whatever prejudice reason you can come up with, the reason is one – lack of education!
Before I started my journey to promote Israel in all 50 states, I didn’t know much about the American history. It’s not something you learn in high schools in Israel, there’s no organize field trips to the US and no public discussion about the relations between Jewish people, Israel and the United States.
Just now, a month to my journey, I’m starting to appreciate this historical connection and see America in a different light.
Only after walking the Freedom Trail in Boston, learning about people such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, I started to understand what the Revolutionary War meant for the people living in the thirteen colonies and how similar their fight for freedom was to this of the Jewish people living in Palestine under British mandate pre Israel’s Independence in 1948.
Only after visiting the Touro Synagogue in Newport Rhode Island, founded in 1763 and is the oldest standing synagogue in the US, and hearing of George Washington’s letter to the Jewish Congregation of Newport, promising Jews will be protected and will be able to live freely in the new independent country, I started grasping how strong the connection between American Jews and the United States really is.
This took me a month of personal exploration and true interest in this country’s history to really appreciate it and be proud of what United States represents.
Now imagine the average American kid, who knows nothing about the land of Israel, about the historical connection of the Jewish people to its land, about the prosecution Jewish people have been under for thousands of years until they finally got a state of their own, and you’ll start to understand why our work to better the image of Israel is so challenging.
Proper Education Should Be a Joint Effort Of All Jewish Organizations In America!
Lobbying groups such as AIPAC, need to push not only to protect the military aid for Israel, but also push for mandatory Jewish history in the middle east.
Community-focused groups such as IAC, JCC and the Jewish Federation, need to promote after-school programs on the history of middle east, that are open to the wider public and encourage non-Jewish people to participate.
Tech focused initiatives (yes, such as my journey to promote Israel’s “Startup Nation” in all 50 States), should aim to reach students all across the country and help them learn about job and internship opportunities in Israeli tech companies in all major US cities and explain them how Israeli tech can help improve their quality of life and well being.
It’s a joint effort of all of us and we must focus on education first, prevention second – That’s the way to win the American vote!
On that note, I want to wish you all Happy Independence Day!