In a sleepy world mired in carelessness and contentment, there are individuals who, like beacons in the night, illuminated the impending storms that others would rather ignore. The story of those who spent years warning of an impending war without being listened to or taken seriously is a narrative of persistence, conviction, and, ultimately, the dilemma of saying, “I told you so.”
I used to work for these Paul Reveres of the Jewish world. I’ve created PowerPoints for StandWithUs. Written newsletters for The (now defunct) Israel Project. Proofread fact sheets for the Zionist Organization of America.
I am proud of our mythbusting. I am saddened by the response.
It is taking every fiber in my being to hold back from that big, fat “I told you so.” Or more accurately, we told you so. We, the openly Zionist pro-Israel community, saw much of the current public fallout coming.
- We told you to reject the Iran Deal.
- We told you that college campuses and progressive spaces were being hijacked—and not to provide moral cover for this by supporting groups like, and especially, J Street.
- We told you that (some) people who say ‘Free Palestine’ want ‘Death to the Jews.’
To this day I stand by the statement that the Palestinian Authority is not a legitimate partner for peace. The PA is a terrorism endorser which celebrates Nazism in its school textbooks and human rights abuser who jails people who post simple Facebook memes. Here’s a tidbit from one of those very same ZOA fact sheets: From June 2007 through December of 2011, PA security forces detained more than 13,000 Palestinian Arabs. The PA tortured 96 percent of them, causing the death of six detainees and “chronic illness” in others. The PA is Hamas in sheep’s clothing. Anyone who thinks we should further legitimize this organization gives credence to anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.
But if I say this even now, I’m castigated and discredited as a radical.
The Unheard Voices
Our protagonist pro-Israel groups have been clear advocates for decades. Tones and proposed solutions may differ; there are even certain phraseologies I’d like to change. Namely more leftist programming. I recognize we didn’t inspire Democrats, even though the California girl in me kept trying to push for more inclusive resources. But it shouldn’t matter. The facts should have been enough.
All the mainstream pro-Israel organizations saw the signs of unrest in government and college campuses and made it their mission to raise the alarm. Be it through articles, public speeches, or tireless lobbying, we worked diligently to persuade the Jewish community that ‘Never Again’ was not an inevitable outcome, but a defiance of history that requires dialogue, education, and strength. The claim that the Democratic Party was descending into antisemitism was seen as ludicrous. So was the sameness of anti-Zionism as antisemitism for that matter. Some people in our community still don’t believe us. They don’t believe us when we say the United Nations mocks our existence, or that the media holds Israel to a double-standard. They believe fake news stories. They trust CNN.
They got caught up in the whirlwind of daily life, and the prospect of war seemed distant, even unthinkable, to many. In the face of skepticism, the pro-Israel groups persisted, but their efforts were met with cynicism and dismissive attitudes.
People refused to see the consequences of poorly written European border policies. They put romantic ideals over hard facts and statistics. They were embarrassed to take stands for Western principles—inexplicably siding with dictators over democracy, and ‘tolerance’ over women’s rights. They rolled their eyes at the ‘promotion of Western values’ —not seeing the solutions evident in Constitutional tenants of freedom. They infantilized the people of the Middle East and funded Palestinian UN textbooks that taught of Jewish scapegoats and suppressed autonomy. They turned their back on the people of Iran and legitimized its vicious regime. They took the position that all ways of life are equal and the inhumane oppression of peoples can be excused by ‘culture.’ They denied that systems of Capitalism are key to giving these same individuals opportunities for freedom, and instead condemned them to lives of never-ending, government-enforced, destitute poverty. They let France die. They disavowed America. They’d still abandon any ideological commitment against dictatorship or in favor of honest journalism to support PA President Mahmoud Abbas. They’d rather see the world they want to see it than work within the reality of what it is.
The “I told you so” moment is not a moment of pride—it is a moral dilemma. Does one use it as an opportunity to cast blame and make others feel the weight of their inaction? Or does one stress compassion? We are torn between the desire to hold those responsible accountable and the understanding that the time for accountability is now secondary to the urgent need for action and security.
The story of Jewish history serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of listening to those who raise their voices against impending disasters. It also challenges us to consider our response when they are vindicated.
I want to use this rare window to address members of our community who are rethinking their stances. The Jews who have donated to J Street (watch the J Street Challenge movie here and consider the Congress members it supports). Those who have contributed to international agencies for Palestinians without any oversight or transparency for how those funds are being used. The board members of expressly anti-Israel universities.
The best time to act was yesterday. The next best time to act is today.