As the new Israeli government was taking shape, an open letter titled A Call to Action began to circulate among American Jewish communities. The signatories, some of whom are prominent figures in American Jewry, pledged “to not invite any members of the RZP [Religious Zionist Party] … to speak at our congregations and organizations. We will speak out against their participation in other fora across our communities. We will encourage the boards of our congregations and organizations to join us in this protest as a demonstration of our commitment to our Jewish and democratic values.”
This letter is worth mentioning only because it is a good reminder for Israelis what American Jewry thinks of Israel. The letter exposes the simple truth that the majority of American Jewry, not all, but certainly a substantial majority among them, oppose Jews being in Israel, and oppose the State of Israel altogether. From their perspective, it would be best if Israel did not exist.
I understand why they need to speak out. First of all, if they keep quiet, it is as if they do not exist, so they need to make some noise. Second, by and large, American Jewry has one goal in mind: to make its stay in the US as safe and serene as possible. Since the world sees Jews as connected all over the world, American Jewry finds itself having to explain the position of the State of Israel, and it makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Because they feel that the existence of Israel risks their own safety in the US, they do not want Israel to exist, certainly not as a Jewish, Zionist entity.
Lucky for Israel, it is not in any way dependent on American Jewry. The money they donate will not be missed if it stops flowing; Israel is strong enough without it. The lobbying they do for Israel has also not been there for us for many years, and Israel’s strength lies elsewhere today. Therefore, I do not think that Israel should mind at all what Jewish congregations in America think about Israel.
The interests that shape Israel’s position in the world are far more comprehensive than our relationship with this or that denomination in American Jewry. Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and Iran all take part in the map of interests, and Israel is much more powerful than it used to be, both on the military end and on the economic end.
In fact, even if the US would, for some reason, stop providing military and economic aid to Israel, it would not hurt Israel’s position or harm it economically or otherwise. I do not see such a scenario unfolding, but just to give some perspective as to how independent Israel has become, it is good to remember that we are standing on our own two feet today.
The new government that has just been sworn in is rife with experienced people, who know what they want and how to achieve it, and despite some newspapers’ attempts to portray the new government as a disaster in the making, the majority of the people in Israel feel more confident now than under the previous government.
Yet, above and beyond all the political arguments, the main problem that severs American Jewry from Israel and from Israelis is the simple truth that there is hatred between us. It is fine not to agree. There are arguments in every nation, and some people even choose to leave their country because they disagree with the policy of their government. However, no Chinese in exile and no Iraqi who has fled his country’s regime would want their country to stop existing altogether. This aspiration is uniquely Jewish, and stems from our total hatred for each other, what we Jews know as sinaat hinam (hatred without cause).
If we could overcome that hatred, we would be able to overcome every disagreement. Since we do not want to even admit that our hatred for each other is so deep, we have no chance of curing it. Specifically for the people of Israel, sinaat hinam is an unforgivable sin, the root cause of all the torments that the nations of the world have inflicted on us throughout the generations.
If we tried to love one another, we would not have to hate each other in politics; we would not feel we must appease the nations, and the world would not hate us. When humanity looks at us, it sees our hatred for each other, and seeing it makes them hate us to the core, to the point where they do not want our existence in this world.