Supporting Israel is not “too complicated”

As a dual citizen of the United States and of Israel, I have been fielding a lot of questions and engaging in countless conversations about the war in Israel – both during the fighting and now during this tenuous ceasefire.

It is tempting to use these opportunities to explain that Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews and that Israel has no other choice but to defend her citizens from a constant barrage of rockets falling on major population centers.  It is tempting to use these opportunities to explain that the current war is being sponsored by Qatar who fund the training and arming of radical Islam groups around the world which are overtaking Europe and who we suspect are already operating on U.S. soil. It is tempting to use these opportunities to explain that Israel is using its weapons systems to protect its children while Hamas is using its children as human shields to protect its weapon systems.

But instead, I choose to use these opportunities to explain an unfortunate side of this war that Americans must address and fix immediately.

We Americans are famous for standing by our friends in times of need.  We Americans are famous for rewarding dedication with unyielding support when it really counts.  We Americans are famous for staring down the forces of evil in support of freedom and democracy.   We Americans stand up for that which is right, no matter what the consequences.

Over the past several decades, there has been no better friend to the United States than Israel.  Has Israel not displayed an unquestioned dedication and support of the United States through multiple military campaigns in the Middle East and several domestic calamities? Has Israel not demonstrated her unwavering belief in freedom for all her citizens and been a true champion of American democratic ideals?

And yet by all accounts, America has struggled mightily to openly and unequivocally support Israel during this most recent war.  Why?

Of course terrorists are evil.  Of course, using children as human shields is despicable.  Of course, radical Islam is causing social unrest in countries across the world and must be stopped.  Of course, a sovereign nation has the right to defend herself when two thirds of her citizens are being bombed around the clock for weeks.  These concepts are at the heart of the current war and the equivalent of motherhood and apple pie to all Americans.

So what’s the problem?  Why not stand in united support of Israel?

I believe the answer is rooted in the notion that supporting Israel during her greatest time of need just seems “too complicated.”

What if supporting Israel causes the Arab nations with which we have trade deals to stop buying American products and weapons systems worth billions of dollars? What will supporting Israel do to the price of oil? How will supporting Israel impact Wall Street?  How will supporting Israel impact our ongoing attempts to deal with the nuclear threat in Iran?  What will the Chinese think?  What will the Russians think?

These are all interesting questions that we could debate for months, even years.  But the reality is that, first, there are no clear answers to these complicated geo-political issues and, second, Israel needs our support now and cannot wait for the outcome of these debates.

To be clear, there are members of Congress, social action organizations, even celebrities who have spoken out openly in support of Israel.  But on the whole, the decision to support Israel during this war feels too overwhelming for America, it’s just “too complicated.”  But it’s not.

Whether you are an inside-the-beltway elected official or a small business owner in Wyoming, the decision to support Israel feels full of down side and appears to have very limited up side.  It feels like by supporting Israel you will be perceived as an aggressor.  It feels like people will look at you differently if you post something on social media expressing any type of open support for Israel.  It just feels “too complicated.”  But it’s not.

There is no flip-flopping when a friend is alerting its citizens that they have less than 30-seconds from the time a siren sounds to get themselves and their families into bomb shelters.  There is no grey area when a close ally is fighting for her survival.   There is no long-winded debate when Israel is sending her best and brightest into booby-trapped tunnels built to attack and murder Israeli families.

It is actually very uncomplicated.  America needs to stand by Israel as a trusted ally and not worry about what other people think.  That is what supporting a friend in a time of need really means.

America needs to do what is right.

That is what we Americans are so famous for.




About the Author
Barak Bar-Cohen is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel who grew up in Southern Israel and served in the IDF as a returning citizen. Mr. Bar-Cohen has over 17 years experience as an investor and senior executive in the telecommunications, digital media, and beverage industries working with both American and Israeli companies. Mr. Bar-Cohen graduated from Brandeis University with Honors in Economics and received his MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Mr. Bar-Cohen is involved with several Jewish and Israeli organizations and currently resides in Princeton, New Jersey with his family who are all dual citizens as well.
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