A leader of the American Jewish community said, “We love Israel, but Israel doesn’t love us.”
The flowering of Israel has been planted by Jews from all over the world. The love we have for our brothers and sisters is the bedrock of our existence.
How do we love you guys? Let me the ways:
We offer religious pluralism. In every city: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and even my hometown of Netanya, there are Conservative and Reform places of worship. The Western Wall has three sections to it, one for men, one for women, and one for egalitarian. We give every Jew, from every path, moving in every direction, his or her opportunity to pursue and find the truth.
We define an Israeli according to the most liberal definition. According to Jewish law, there are very clear rules on who is a Jew. According to Israeli law, there are much more flexible guidelines on who can become citizen. In fact, we are even more liberal than the Reform Movement in defining who is eligible.
You can come here and become a citizen on the spot. If you are an American citizen, you cannot go to China and become a citizen. If you are British, you cannot become a part of Japan, India, or Saudi Arabia. Even if you are a refugee from a “safe” country claiming protected status in America, there is a process and it can take years to become a citizen.In Israel, if you have one Jewish grandparent, you can receive Israeli citizenship the moment you land. By simply saying “I am a Jew,” you get money, rights, tax breaks, free education, free health care for a year, and an army of workers whose sole purpose in life is to help you with anything you need.In no other country does a nation actively invest its resources in recruiting people from outside to become citizens on the spot.
Even if you are thinking to yourself, of course Israel wants American Jews – they have money, remember that Jews from the Soviet Union, Arab countries, and post-Holocaust Europe didn’t have any money when they came here. In the first 10 years of the State, those who were here opted to go on food rations for the sake of bringing in Jews fleeing Europe and Arab countries.
We will take any measure to ensure your birthright. In the early 1950s, the Jews of Yemen were brought home. Yemen was an enemy state and the Arabs were united in their drive to eliminate us from the earth. Soldiers and volunteers risked their lives to infiltrate enemy territory, overload planes with hundreds of people at a time, and fly over Arab lands out of love for our brothers and sisters. In the mid-1980s and early 1990s we risked life and limb to evacuate over 30,000 Ethiopian Jews from a hostile state into Israel. Neither the Ethiopians or the Yemenites had money or “valuable” skills to offer the country. They were Jews who needed our love.
Today, hundreds of thousands of Israelis of Ethiopian and Yemenite origins serve as officers in the IDF, doctors, lawyers, venture capitalists, software developers, members of Knesset, and ministers in Israel.
We make it our business to protect Jews worldwide. From the vision of Herzl to this very day, it is our credo that a Jew will always have a home safe from fear. There is no other nation on earth that loves you so much.In the past century, Jewish communities have gone from riches to rags overnight many times. There was the Russian Revolution of 1917 where a merchant class of Jews were financially wiped out. The Nazi takeover of the 1930s turned hundreds of thousands destitute overnight. The 1950s saw huge well to do Jewish communities in Arab nations lose everything in an instant. Then there was Persia in the 1970s. Germany 1910 was stable, rich, and strong. Persia in 1978 welcomed a guest in Tehran to usher in the new year…the American President.
The upheavals that rattled these stable nations can just as easily happen in America. Murmurings of civil war are becoming more vocal. Demonstrations are becoming violent to the point that people are getting killed. The level of unease has unleashed the worst type of hatred that goes hand and hand with such instability: violent anti-Semitism. Synagogues are being burned to the ground. Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized. Jews, from celebrities, to elderly widows, are being threatened in the most unspeakable ways.
A Jew in Europe or America today could find the land beneath their feet on fire. You could find yourself in a position where you don’t even know If you will go the day without being harassed, attacked, or murdered. You will have no place to go.
Except for Israel. For no other reason that we love you.
David Ben Horin developed www.abetterlifeinisrael.com, a 5-hour, 20-video series which gives you day to day guidance on How to Enjoy a Better Life in Israel.