The first time I consciously stepped foot in Israel, I experienced an incomparable sense of community and felt completely at home. After feeling the power only found in the State of Israel, I knew I had to learn more about the place that holds so much inexplicable magic. I came home, and devoted myself to learning all I could about this unique land, its people, and the very essence of the Zionist ideology and dream and, since then, have promised myself I would never become apathetic.
I constantly get asked why I support Israel, a people so far away from me, and a country I don’t even live in. I get asked what being an Israel advocate means to me. My answer is the following: to me, feeling apathetic is inexcusable, and being an Israel advocate means not being indifferent when indifference has the power to destroy. This means supporting Israel when support is needed and criticizing when critique is appropriate. It means condemning terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and condemning unnecessary force from Israeli citizens. I answer this because I can’t just watch while the State of Israel gets criticized for not working hard enough to make peace a reality with a people praising and wishing for the destruction of her own. I can’t just accept the fact that Israel is the only country that has to constantly legitimize herself, that her people have to live in fear of getting blown up in a bus, and that she is monitored by the international world unlike any other nation on the planet.
Before this year, the fact that “I will be facing blatant anti-Semitism on my college campus” and the idea that I would be on the front lines in a battle defending my heritage and the one Jewish State did not feel real. Yet next year, being an Israel advocate will mean doing my part on campus. I have, countless times, been asked the question: “Did you know that the school you are attending next year is one of the most anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic campuses in America?” My response is constant: “I have no control over that. All I can say is that if I don’t confront the blatant anti-Zionism and the less obvious anti-Semitism that plagues college campuses no one will. If I don’t stand up for what I believe in when I have the opportunity to do so, I fall victim to the vicious cycle of expecting others to confront injustice while I stand idly by.”
I know some students praise the intifada that has viciously murdered Israeli citizens, I know I will battle both Jews and non-Jews on very substantial ideological differences, and I know that I have a lot of work on my hands. But, I will never stop being an Israel advocate, I will never stop demanding action, and I will never act apathetically. Dispassion for the world around one is what fuels the dispersion of misinformation and ignorance. But I will continue to try and understand the issues that plague our world, make sense of them, and take the goodness that exists and make it known and multiplied.
My reason for becoming an Israel advocate was one stemming from an instant connection I felt, but my reasons for staying an Israel advocate are different: it is because the Middle East needs Israel for stability, because Jews need Israel to come home to, and because I need Israel as it is central to my Jewish identity that I will continue to support her. Most importantly, however, it is because if I don’t, I repress the discussions necessary for society to progress, legitimize malignant behavior, and allow apathy to takeover.