During the last couple of weeks, Jewish and Israeli media outlets were filled with woeful cries about Israel’s standing with the younger generation of Americans and with young Jews in particular. The discussion erupted when a new Brand Israel study of American attitudes toward Israel was published, conducted by the Brand Israel Group, a nonprofit research and marketing effort that tracks attitudes toward Israel with the goal of improving Israel’s image. The study does more than just depict the problem, but rather suggests solutions: ideas of effective engagement with Israel in creative and meaningful ways, with special focus on the next generation. I cannot agree more with the notion of a passionate, energetic, and authentic interaction on issues of great importance, such as Israel, as the ONLY way to communicate them effectively in order to mobilize support.
Such discussions within the pro-Israel community and beyond are nothing new, including the periodic woes and the multiple solutions offered. In spite of Israel’s unique geopolitical situation, they are also not limited only to Israel. Many countries around the world find themselves preoccupied with the task of nation branding and marketing, as the founder of Brand Israel and former Israeli Consul General to New York, Ambassador Ido Aharoni says: “Just as brands play a critical role in the success of companies, they are also very important for nations. A change in a country’s brand image can have a deep impact on its economy”.
However, beyond all the creative and smart “means of interactions”, there needs to come a point when we pause and say, clearly and straightforwardly: WE SUPPORT ISRAEL BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. IT IS THE MORAL THING TO DO. IT IS WHAT DECENT HUMAN BEINGS LIKE ME SHOULD DO.
In spite of all of the challenges and incredibly complex issues, in spite of the fact that Israel – like so many other human societies – is not perfect, Israel remains a noble cause to support and beacon of light in a dark world. Society in an ever state of galloping towards progress, advancement, betterment – both of themselves and the world around them. Eager to be loved, eager to be accepted, after thousands of years of exile, of struggles and hardships. After experiencing horrible deeds perpetrated against them by their fellow human beings: from small town pogroms targeting dozens of Jews in a town, to the indescribable depth of human evil manifested in the unprecedented – never to be repeated again – industrial annihilation of Jews in the Holocaust. A people banished from their homeland so many years ago, spread to the four corners of the Earth, who continuously maintained an inner light, their beacon of hope, that one day they will be able to live not under the boot of an oppressor. Not under constant thereat to their lives, fearing every second of every minute of every hour of every day for their children. They will be able to build a home for themselves. Yes, it’s only a teeny tiny sliver of land in a vast ocean of nations, but it is our sliver of land. It is our home, where we can live and prosper, knowing that all woes are ours to bring on ourselves and all achievements and successes are ours to make and create.
The story of Israel is a story of great inspiration. A story of hope – that, sometimes, just sometimes in this dark and cruel world of ours, hope can win against all odds. Dreams can come true. For many years, my grandparents and their grand parents, dreamt of coming back home to Israel from their exile in Yemen. For many years they yearned, they prayed, they whispered the name Jerusalem under their breath just before they laid to sleep, gazing at the heavens, tearing, weaving a sweet and comforting dream. And, lo and behold, one day as they looked up, against the blinding light of Sun, there they were, the Eagles of Iron, those planes landing from the skies to carry them to the Promised Land.
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19, 4)
Dreams do come true.
The story of Israel is one of a great hope, realized. It is that of an indigenous people coming back home, creating an exemplary society based on esteemed values, aspiring to grow and do good. Wishing to live, first and foremost to live. To be alive. And then to do so under the principles of a just society, upholding the great freedoms of our time in a region which is yet to see those freedoms spreading their wings unto them.
We should all support Israel because it’s the right thing to do and we can say so with pride, with joy, with gratitude.