I could be accused of worse, but a rise in social media taunting on my unconditional support of Israel, has led me to believe that I obviously irk a few people out there. I was recently scolded as having no business defending Israel because I do not live there. Well, that told me off. Recent elections in Israel seemed to have brought out the best and worst in people. Being active on social media has always afforded me the opportunity to “listen” to diverse opinions and sides. Normally very civil and non confrontational. But there is always the pit in the pie.
A few days ago I came across unflattering comments on Israel by an American Jew who had moved to Israel and regretted it. It would not have bothered me so much, if his comments were not so disingenuous. Describing Israel as 60% Arab, dirty, tribal, and on its last legs; my first instinct was to ignore because it never ends well. But I threw instinct to the wind and I responded. I was trite and simply brought to his attention that he must have been living in another country not Israel because statistics showed that out of the approximate 9 Million Israelis, 74% were Jews, 21% Arabs, and 4+% were “other”. I also mentioned that Tel-Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem are beautiful beyond description, and Israel has no tribes that I knew of. The immediate reply was not a surprise. I was basically told to mind my own business because I was neither Jewish nor lived in Israel. My reply: shalom to you too!
Why did I upset this guy so much and why did his ignorant remarks stick a poker in my eye? Why would I get into an argument with someone I don’t know just because he disparaged Israel? If truth be told, he was correct; I am neither Jewish nor live in Israel. My love affair with Israel started three years ago on a 10-day trip that changed my life. I was not lying about the beauty of Tel-Aviv, Haifa, or Jerusalem. I traveled to the shores of the Mediterranean and visited a beachfront Kibbutz. The warm sand under my feet and the serenity of that community were heavenly. Haifa with its pristine shores and gorgeous hills rising above the blue Mediterranean is breath taking. And Jerusalem is a world of its own. The ancient and the modern meet at the old city walls where Roman architecture and Biblical significance embrace. What is there not to like? The Kotel remains the epicenter of my visit where I touched my Biblical heritage and rediscovered my Christianity.
My defense of Israel is neither naïve nor unrealistic. Current political uncertainty in Israel is very real and the country has gone through two emotional elections in a matter of months. But Israel remains the beacon of hope and security in the Middle East. From the blue sea to the fertile desert, Israel provides the world with the highest number of patents per capita, and leads the globe in medical and technological research and development. Apart from all of this, Israel is personal to me. It is that corner in my faith that Christians do not talk about. I raise eyebrows when I openly profess that I cannot be a good Christian without first being a good Jew. My trip to Israel solidified my connection with Biblical Christianity.
Anti-Israel pinheads fail to understand that Israel is the real melting pot. Aliyah brought together Jews from around the world in one spot. Their spot. Their Promised Land. From Eastern and Western Europe, the Americas, Persia, and Africa; Jewish Diaspora joined and still joins a people in Biblical heritage and unity. There isn’t another ethnic group of people in the world that unites in faith, culture, and ethnicity like the Jews. Whether reformists, conservatives, Orthodox, or “other”; practicing or non-practicing, Jews have this wonderful unspoken “link” that binds them together in their Jewry. My BFF in Haifa described Friday Shabbat as a global unified cry of rejoicing and thanksgiving to God. “Imagine, everyone praying at the same time”, she said. Time zones do not matter, because the opening prayer at the same moment of the same day reaches God at the same time. I closed my eyes and imagined. It does not get better than that.
Why my staunch and unconditional support of Israel? What is it to me? My love for Israel was always part of my psyche. I cannot give a reason because I do not understand it myself. Maybe because I was a post war child questioning Shoah and not understanding why the world permitted it to happen. Or maybe because some of my early picture books were illustrated Children’s Bibles which I loved to read. Or maybe because 30 years ago I met an amazing Israeli who taught me about Shabbat, Hanukkah, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and other days of observation which she allowed me to share with her. Also possibly because I remember the six-day war, the Yom Kippur war, and the Munich Olympic Massacre. I always knew that I could not allow further injustices like Shoah to happen in my life time.
Israel rose from the ashes of Shoah and its pain. “Never Again” is not only a cry for Shoah justice, but a cry of resiliency. Is that possibly why some of Israel’s neighbors dislike it so much? A country’s determination to overcome the dry desert and turn it into fertile land, repeatedly defeat unfriendly and bigger neighbors, and stand up for its right to exist? On a recent trip to New York City and the United Nations, I stopped by the Holocaust wall and immediately contemplated the hypocrisy. The UN’s security council continually votes against Israel. Often, it is only the US that stands by Israel. In the meantime the UN gives credence to Hamas as a legitimate authority. The Holocaust wall is just another insidious check mark on a list of pseudo UN Human Rights indignation. Another hurdle Israel must contend with on a daily basis.
Yes, Israel is not perfect, but it is sure better than most. Israel gives back to the world without asking for much in return except acceptance and acknowledgement for its right to exist. It shares its good fortunes with the rest of us. The rise in anti-Israel sentiment, mostly on campuses in the US is not only dangerous but ignorant. Boycotting Israel is losing a major contributor to medicine and technology. But hatred has no common sense does it? Internal political strife does not take away from Israel’s important role in the region and the world. Peace in the region depends on Israel’s ability to sustain its democratic freedoms and self sufficiency. Israel’s strength keeps neighbors like Jordan and Egypt relatively safe.
The current political debacle has not changed my opinion or led me to believe that Israel is doomed. I trust that Israelis are intelligent and strong enough to withstand this uncertainty and future upheavals. Politicians come and go. It is the nature of things. My words of wisdom; change is usually always beneficial. If it leads to something better, than Mazal Tov, if it turns South, then the people will make their decision at the ballot box. One thing is certain; אני אוהב את ישראל