Brief Notes: Standing Up For Ourselves

All we are trying to do at Israel Thrives, or so it seems to me, is open ourselves to alternative viewpoints around the Arab-Israel conflict and to stand up for ourselves.

I have no particular agenda beyond the fact that I want Israel to thrive. That’s it. That’s all. Given the history of the Jewish people we need a place where we can defend ourselves and express ourselves.

Israel is the place that assures that.

I live in the foothills of Oakland, California, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. I have not the slightest concern of any anti-Jewish pogrom happening where I live. The Bay Area is, like Israel, among the most open and diverse places on the entire planet. So my concern is not for me, nor for my family in the United States, but for my Jewish family in Israel.

The reason that I have this concern is because my father’s side of the family was slaughtered by Nazis in the town of Medzhybizh, in the Ukraine by the Einsatzgruppen death squads, as part of the Holocaust and therefore I understand how the defamation of the Jewish people can lead to mass murder. They were not put in the camps. Under forced labor they built roads for the Germans during Operation Barbarossa and once those roads were completed they dug ditches and once those ditches were completed they were lined up, along with about three thousand other Jews, and shot dead by rifle fire.

The only reason that I was even born was because my grandparents had the foresight to get the hell out of there after World War I.

In any case, it must be understood that the Jews of the Middle East are a people under siege. That is the very first thing that we need to understand, in my opinion. We have to understand that our fellow Jews in that part of the world are maligned and targeted for death by political Islam and for the kind of defamation, among a significant faction within the international left, that leads to violence against us.

It is really very simple. We should stand up for our allies and oppose our enemies. Living where I do it is very easy to think that we do not have enemies. The whole concept of “enemies” is anathema to the western progressive-left. My friends in Oakland and Berkeley and San Francisco (and New York) do not believe in “enemies” because they come from a place that is so rich and privileged and safe that the whole notion of “enemies” is anathema.

But the truth of the matter is that Hamas shot hundreds, if not thousands, of rockets into southern Israel last year and the international community did not give a damn. It was only when Israel finally stood up and fought back that suddenly we had people like Hillary Clinton fly into Jerusalem to broker a cease fire. The west did not care in the least when Arabs sought to kill Jews. They only cared when Jews fought back.

What I say is that we must stand strong and we must fight back. We can disagree among ourselves about any number of issues, but we must stand together because the radical Jihad, which includes millions in the Middle East, would destroy Israel if it could. The “Palestinians” would destroy Israel and this would bring us back to the dhimmitude and helplessness that we have known for millenia.

We just recently celebrated Passover and that holiday, along with Thanksgiving, is my favorite holiday because it is the holiday in which we celebrate our freedom as a people. We should never underestimate this or take it for granted.

I am exceedingly privileged because I do not live in a place where people are trying to kill me, but the same cannot be said for our friends and family in the Jewish State of Israel. Once again, we have 6 million Jews with their back to the sea surrounded by 400 million Arabs who, for the most part, do not want them there. This is not because those Jews are persecuting the hostile majority population and it is not because those Jews are allegedly persecuting “Palestinians.” The hatred toward Jewish people in the Middle East is for religious reasons embedded in the Koran.

We need to open ourselves to the alternative view that Jewish self-defense is a matter of social justice. In the west we are trained to believe that the Palestinian-Arabs are fighting for social justice against the malicious and militaristic and racist Jews.

This is false.

The opposite is the case.

The only thing that we can do is stand up for ourselves and if we fail to do that then we have no one to blame but ourselves.


Mike Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.

About the Author
Mike Lumish is a PhD in American history from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at PSU, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco. He regularly publishes on the Arab-Israel conflict at the Times of Israel and at his own blog, Israel Thrives ( He has in recent years given conference papers on American cultural and intellectual history at The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, as well as at the Western Historical Association in Phoenix, Arizona and the American Cultural Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lumish is also the founding editor of the scholarly on-line discussion forum H-1960s. He can be contacted at