The bond between Israel and the United States has never been as strong as it has been this past year. Evidenced by President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the formation of a pact to defeat Iran, and more recently threatening to cut aid to the Palestinians. It seems predestined that we will continue to see the best of days between Israel and the United States.
Beneath the major headlines, a different story is being told. I am referring to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hatovely’s I24 TV news interview on November 22nd, where she said that U.S. Jewry cannot relate to the everyday life of Israelis. She described American Jews as having “convenient lives” as they are not under constant threat of rocket attacks, and are not forced to send their children to contend with the perils of the army.
The international backlash that ensued was heavy and Netanyahu was forced to condemn her statement. “Diaspora Jewry is dear to us, and they are an integral part of our People. There is no place for such rabid criticism, and her remarks do not reflect the position of Israel”, he said.
Perhaps Hatovely’s choice of words was poor, but the sentiment is right.
The State of Israel reflects the perseverance of a people whom against all odds have survived and had finally returned to their ancient homeland. Upon visiting the Holy Land; a land enriched with Jewish culture and historical sites, one cannot help but feel intense Jewish pride. This symbolic pride carries great force in the Jewish psyche.
Symbolism breeds expectations that clash when met with reality. Tourists mostly experience the full blast of Jewish pride without necessarily being exposed to the realities of what life is really like. Living the dream is admirable indeed, but Israeli citizens pay heavily for it through blood and economic hardship. A country whose enemies wish to have it destroyed, and whose friends try and impose upon her own self-determination, makes everyday life very difficult for the Israeli citizen.
This does not mean to infer that worldwide Jewry does not have to make their own l sacrifices, but the chasm between everyday Israeli and American life must be acknowledged.
I am constantly asked by family and friends in the United States what the mood has been like since President Trump’s historic announcement. They sound semi-offended and shocked when I tell them we are not dancing in the streets. The politicians for sure are, as it is their job to preserve the very existence of Israel, but not so for the average citizen.
Surrounded by enemies that feel it is their God-given right to murder, Israelis must bear the dangerous consequences of Trump’s decision.
To our brothers and sisters abroad,
Know that the State of Israel is as much as your home as it is ours. Just like you, we are very proud of our heritage and the pride that comes with having a Jewish state in our ancestral land. This unified sentiment is what binds us all together regardless of where we live. But please bear in mind the realities of the Israeli citizen, before heaping criticism upon us when we do not live up to symbolic expectations.