David Mandel
Chief Executive Officer, OHEL Children's Home and Family Services

I am an American, an Israeli, a Jew

I am an American. I am an Israeli. I am Jewish.

Arrange these words in any order; I am proud to be all three.  Born a Jew in Israel, I have lived here as an American for many decades.  I identify as all three.

There has been a lot of schoolyard bickering these past few weeks concerning Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress today.

It’s not about politics they say.

It’s not about Obama vs. Netanyahu they say.

It’s not about America vs. Israel they say.

If it’s not about all this – then why are “they” so busy talking?

But, it’s true; it’s not about any of this.  It’s only about Iran.  Everything else are convenient distractions.

I along with millions, if not hundreds of millions around the world, watched or listened to Netanyahu’s speech today.  I along with hundreds, if not thousands, are writing about it.   I am writing because as an American, as an Israeli and as a Jew, I feel a moral obligation to insert my brief comments.

In his speech about Iran’s capabilities to build and use nuclear weapons, Netanyahu invoked the story of Purim and how Haman, advisor to King Ahashverush of Persia, sought to destroy the Jewish people two and a half thousand years ago.  As many may know, this very week Jews around the globe will be reading the story of Purim and how Queen Esther spoke on behalf of her people and saved the Jews from destruction.

Netanyahu invoked the story of Nazi Germany.  Not only were 6 million Jews exterminated, more than 50 million people around the world lost their lives as the result of the unchecked, maniacal Hitler.  These are not fictional stories; this is Jewish history – two and a half thousand years ago, 70 years ago and now, today.

If Americans felt threatened by an enemy capable of invading our shores and who were in fact announcing such intent – wouldn’t our leaders plan to repel this attack?  Wouldn’t our leaders consult with NATO, including all our close allies to seek their support?  Wouldn’t Americans be given every opportunity by Israel to voice their concerns?

Wouldn’t our American leaders invoke the struggles of 1776 and the hard-fought battles that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and talk about the freedoms we enjoy daily in the Bill of Rights?  Would that be considered grandiose?  If our leaders were to make a statement to the Israeli Parliament saying, “We don’t sense that you sense our danger,” would that be condescending?

Trust the US Intelligence is the mantra served upon Israel.  The US Intelligence did not forecast the fall of communism immediately preceding its occurrence.  US Intelligence did not get the WMD right in Iraq and we went to war.   US Intelligence misunderstood the Arab Spring, did not get it right in Libya and certainly not with ISIS.

Mine is not a criticism of US Intelligence.  I am stating that Netanyahu cannot stake Israel’s existence and its future on US Intelligence.

Netanyahu said, “Last summer millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this Capital Dome helped build our Iron Dome,”  a clear statement by Netanyahu of American and Israel interests inextricably intertwined.

“Give me some men who are stout-hearted men who will fight for the right they adore.” (Stout-Hearted Men, 1930)

The fight that America and Israel adore is the fight for Democracy. In the song from the 1930’s, ten thousand men fought.  In reality, millions of Americans have fought, from before 1776 and through today for America’s survival.  Millions have fought for four millennia for Israel’s survival.

“There’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan, when stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.” 

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu sticking together man to man will protect all of us as Americans, as Israelis, as Jews, and every other faith, creed and religion on the shores of America and on the beaches of Tel Aviv.

Here’s the only question that need be answered. If Mexico was developing a nuclear weapon and repeatedly threatened the destruction of America, would we talk, or would we act decisively?

Netanyahu may not look like Queen Esther, but happily, he is emulating her strength.

About the Author
David Mandel is CEO of Ohel Children's Home and Family Services. For more than 50 years, Ohel has provided a safe haven for those suffering in the community. Ohel cares for more than 17,000 individuals in the New York metropolitan area and across all communities offering a broad range of mental health services including outpatient counseling, trauma, anxiety, eldercare, respite and housing.