We sure are an odd political couple: A Centrist/Liberal Democrat who is a former U.S. Congressman from Bergen County and a Conservative former Chairman of the Bergen County Republican Party.
We join today to ask two questions that concern us as Americans and American Jews.
Should all Americans of good will, including people who support America’s number one strategic ally in the world, the Jewish State of Israel, care about the growing violent acts of racism and anti-Semitism in the New Jersey/New York region, as well as the other deadly acts of ethnic hatred across the United States?
Should that concern mean that all Americans of good will must condemn actions of hate and incitement to violence against anyone, whether advocated by individuals from the political far left or far right?
Our answer to both questions is yes.
There is a dangerous, albeit small minority of Americans indoctrinated in hate against Jews, people of color, and people of particular national origins, religions, and cultural traditions.
It is worth noting that most of those Republicans on the far right who ran for office just this past Election Day, who espoused hate and intolerance of “others” including America’s Jews, lost their elections. However, they were nominated by their political party and received millions of votes. And several of them won.
Just so on the left, most of the few Democratic candidates who, for example, embraced Louis Farrakhan’s virulent anti-Semitism–including his latest round of public denigration of Jews, calling us “termites” of a “gutter religion”—lost their elections. However, they were nominated by their political party and received millions of votes. And a handful of them won, also.
American tolerance and regard for our neighbors can and does overcome such hateful people. As Andrew Silow-Carroll writing for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has noted, “the coast-to-coast gestures of solidarity and acts of kindness that followed the Pittsburgh massacre are far more typical of America than the acts of a deranged subculture.”
But given the increase in hate crimes in America these past two years—with the number of racist and anti-Semitic incidents having risen dramatically in that time—it is worth reminding our fellow Americans, including the pro-Israel community, that no one should be a friend to those who hate and act-out their hate. Whether any of those haters have reason to support Israel, is irrelevant. That does not make those people worthy of our respect or support in any way.
As two individuals who care deeply about America’s future, we know that our country’s well-being is inextricably linked to Israel’s. If Israel were, forbid, to fall, that would leave the entire Middle East without “America’s land-based aircraft carrier” of freedom, making the U.S. and the world less safe, and the Middle East less free.
We know that the overwhelming majority of Americans and their elected representatives support Israel, for very good reasons. Israel’s growing military, intelligence, anti-terror and cyber capabilities are a great comfort to Americans. Israel’s position as the most progressive and democratic, albeit imperfect, nation in the entire Middle East, with women’s and LGBTQ rights, well-enforced freedom of religious diversity and practice, the presence of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the elected Israeli parliament and throughout Israel’s universities, adds to our respect. And Israel’s long-held rights for a free press, speech, assembly, protest and, above all, devotion to the rule of law, resonate well with those Americans who recognize those values in our own Constitutional democracy.
Recently, Israel’s new role as the one of the world’s “start-up nations,” has created breakthroughs in medicine, science, technology and intelligence that have benefited the people of the world.
Finally, for many Americans, the centuries’ old love affair with the land and people of the Old Testament, dating back to America’s founding, is still cherished and strong.
For all these reasons and many others, the U.S.-Israel relationship is growing even more critical for America’s security, prosperity and peace of mind, as well as for other countries around the world threatened by terrorists, draughts, famine, hate-filled groups, and less technologically-innovative economies.
As for American Jews, we love America. We are powerfully grateful for the blessings enjoyed by all Americans: Constitutionally-protected rights that, while not having been perfectly realized yet, hold the promise and opportunity to all within our borders of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, free from hate and unfair treatment, with equal rights under the law.
Thank goodness most Members of Congress, from both political parties, and most Americans, still overwhelmingly support the Jewish State of Israel’s fight to defend itself, and abhor acts of hate and intolerance, anti-Semitism and racism of all varieties.
That is why we call upon all people of good will, including all Non-Jews and Jews, to make sure that Jews, along with everyone else in America, do not suffer acts of political violence from anyone, including those who espouse either support for Israel or are silent on the issue; and that we condemn those who incite, embrace, or act on any aspect of their racism.
By Steven R. Rothman and Bob Yudin