Real Patriots

Whether someone is blocking traffic on the Ayalon in protest at the wrongful death at the hands of a law enforcement official or marching in protest on the streets of this nation, these are the people who should be acknowledged as true patriots.

True patriots do not drive around with Confederate flags on the back of their pick-up trucks, nor do they assault law enforcement personnel who are tasked with defending the rule of law. They do not hold mass rallies emulating themselves and they do not use military symbols to make their point that we are all citizens of the country in which we reside. Our common purpose is to ensure that the founders of our respective nations knew what they were doing when they wrote the stirring words that called our ancestors to action and to a higher purpose.

We are not tasked with ruling by force, nor are we supposed to rule others except via laws agreed upon and approved by all and created for everyone. Likewise, we are not permitted to let demagogues, autocrats or oligarchs decide for all what is best for us. We are not supposed to let those who have many resources decide what the rest of us should do with the treasures we hold most dear: our land, our seas and our environment.

We are supposed to fight tyrannies whenever and wherever they rear their ugly heads even when they are found in the halls of our government buildings.

We do not cage others as if they were animals and we similarly welcome the downtrodden and give them hope for a new life in a new land where they also might contribute their toil, sweat and tears for the benefit of those who came before them. That is the authentic power of a nation. To allow others to undo these ideals is to surrender to anarchy, demagoguery and racism and it weakens our link with the patriots of the past. That was the entire point of the founding of America, just as it was the point of the founding of the State of Israel.

We are watching both nations convulse under the strain of increased immigration, but both Israel and the U.S. can surely absorb the new citizens. We should feel honored that Somalis or Eritreans believe they will have a better life in Israel, just as we should recognize that we can help a family from Honduras or El Salvador contribute to our society in ways great and small. A person who is held for ransom in the Sinai after bribing his or her way across Africa is no different from a family swimming across the Rio Grande to Texas in search of economic improvement and survival. These people are to be assisted, not shunned or abused at our borders. They have already recognized what many Israelis and Americans have already take for granted and forgotten; namely, that we live in a great nation that holds a higher purpose than the support of self-serving individuals.

When a former soldier exchanges his or her comrades in arms for wealthy benefactors, he or she is losing the promise made when donning their uniform in the first place. When he or she begins making decisions not based in what is good for all, but what he or she can most gain from their office, then that person is abrogating their primary responsibility and should be promptly removed from office. When someone has no military background, but makes decisions not grounded in experience that affect millions of those who do wear a uniform, then they have a heightened responsibility to ensure that their decisions are for their positive welfare. To do otherwise is unpatriotic.

Today, both Israel and America are seeing what happens when the rule of law breaks down and the wealthy few have their voices heard instead of the voices of the majority of people. This is not what makes a nation great, nor is it sustainable for very long. To my Ethiopian brothers and sisters, all I can say is remain vigilant, but peaceful in your demands for justice, and your multitude of voices will be heard. To my fellow Americans, I hope that you remember that this day is not for standing by quietly, giving your assent to new tyrants. It is a call to action to repair what has already been damaged and renew what it was that once made this a great place to live.

About the Author
Rachel Grenadier was an olah from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003 who returned to the United States in 2015. She really wanted to stay in Israel, but decided that having family members nearby was better for her health than a bunch of devoted, but crazed, Israeli friends who kept telling her hummous would cure her terminal heart condition. She has her B.A. and M.A. from George Mason University in Virginia and is the author of two books: the autobiographical "Israeli Men and Other Disasters" and "Kishon: The Story of Israel's Naval Commandoes and their Fight for Justice". She is now living in Virginia with her three Israeli psychologically-challenged cats and yet, denies being a "hoarder".
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