At a recent Hanukkah party in the White House attended by a large number of American Jews, influential ones, by special invitation, the American president, Donald Trump, praised his Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen for their love of Israel and their frequent visits there.
It was one of two Hanukkah parties hosted in the White House and one, in particular, in which Jewish Holocaust survivors were guests.
In President Trump’s remarks, he praised the Pences for their love and devotion for “YOUR” country, implying a sense of dual loyalty. Whereupon one of the guests spoke up and said “Mr. President, THIS is our country”.
The concern for dual loyalty is not new. It has existed since the 1948 creation of the State of Israel. American Jews who supported it, who fought for it, who gave their lives for it, were considered more loyal to Israel than to the American land of their birth.
I want to tell the American president a simple thing which he may have forgotten or maybe never even realized.
Italian Americans love Italy. Irish Americans love Ireland. Greek Americans love Greece. Polish Americans love Poland. And Jewish Americans love Israel. That love does not make any of them less Americans and less loyal to the United States.
Mr. President… there is no contradiction between dual loves. A man can love his mother and can love his wife at the same time. Two different kinds of love but intense love all the same.
When, from 1939-1945, the doors of the “land of the free and home of the brave” had closed and locked its doors against the entry of Jews, American Jews continued proudly and loyally to serving in the American military forces in the war against Nazism and fascism.
When the war ended and the world witnessed the catastrophe of the Holocaust, American Jews stood up bravely and in determination to overthrow the British Mandate in Palestine and to insist upon the creation of the Jewish State of Israel.
The widow of one of my neighbors always spoke proudly of her late husband, Ray Kurtz, who was an American-born pilot shot down and killed by Egyptian air-fire in defense of Israel. There were many hundreds of American former military men who went to the defense of the newborn state against the enemies of six foreign Arab countries. Their devotion to Israel did not make them dis-loyal to the United States.
When, in previous wars against attacking Arab forces, Israel urgently requested American aid in weapons and ammunition, presidents like Dwight Eisenhower kept a blind eye and a deaf ear.
At a later time and a later war it took the courage of Israel’s female prime minister, Golda Meier, to come to America in order to seek aid from president Richard Nixon. He gladly came to Israel’s request and Golda Meier returned to Israel as a heroine who praised and blessed an unpopular American president.
Millions of American dollars were contributed by most American Jews, rich and poor, in aid to Israel for the purchase of needed supplies which guaranteed her victory.
There was no dual loyalty. There was love for both Israel and love and pride for America.
President Trump should realize that Israel is a mother and America is a wife. A man can sometimes divorce a wife but he can never divorce a mother.
America has been the wife of its Jewish citizens for 242 years.
Israel has been our Jewish mother for 4000 years.