I am very passionate about politics, but there aren’t many issues that I take as seriously as American policy towards Israel. A big part of that is based on my family and history. I am Jewish. Much of my family survived the holocaust, but some did not. I also immigrated to America from the former Soviet Union, where Jews were persecuted on a daily basis. My parents and I were lucky enough to end up in America, but many of my relatives could not make it here. Instead my grandparents and other relatives went to the only other place in the world where Jews know they can live without persecution, Israel. For those reasons I am particularly sensitive to what happens in Israel, and in what ways American policy affects Israel.
The reason I titled this post “I remember” is because I have spent a lot of time in Israel and there is a lot that my memories inform me to that an average observer may not understand. As a young kid, I remember being in Israel during the Gulf War. Saddam Hussein was bombing Israel and I would have to wake up in the middle of the night to put a gas mask on when the sirens went off. At the time Israel could not protect itself or retaliate because the United States feared that if it did then the coalition of Arab states would stop backing U.S. action in Kuwait. Israel went along with this because it had an implicit trust in its bond with America and trusted us to stand by Israel in the future. I remember watching Israeli Prime Ministers being forced by a U.S. push for peace to shake hands with and negotiate with Yasser Arafat, who everyone knew was the godfather of terrorism. The same man who won a noble peace prize and would speak about peace in English, but would then return home and encourage suicide bombings in Arabic. Israel did this because it wanted peace and trusted that America would stand by her if peace could not be made. I remember being in Israel during the second intifada and wanting to go to the pool with my friends, only to have to think twice because of the fear of taking a bus that may be attacked by a suicide bomber. My friends and others who lived there didn’t have that fear. They were used to the risks and horrors of daily terrorism and lived their lives freely and bravely, but I had to adapt to deal with that fear. That intifada was a direct result of the failure of Camp David negotiations and Palestinian leadership believing (rightly based on past negotiations) they could gain more concessions through violence. For years my relatives, friends and a country that I value has been put in danger in the name of peace. For years Palestinians, who have been rejected by the Arab countries, have gained concession after concession from Israel and have in return only demanded more and increased their violence. I also remember 9/11, when most Americans understood for the first time what Israel must continuously deal with. I remember watching Israelis stand up in solidarity with us on that day with the message “Today we are all Americans”. I also remember watching images of Palestinians cheering in the streets that so many of my fellow Americans were brutally murdered. Those are images that I will never forget. I remember these things because they matter. These things tell me that there is a right and wrong, a good and evil, and a reason to pick one side or another. The lives of Americans, Israelis, and free people everywhere depend on us choosing the right sides and understanding these differences.
If Israel had been treated like every other country from the beginning and never forced to give in to violence, never forced to negotiate with terrorists then their likely wouldn’t even be a Palestinian issue and less of terrorism issue. If you don’t believe me, then look at the lack of a Palestinian issue for Jordan after Black September where they treated the Palestinians much more inhumanely than Israel ever has. However, now is too late to look back at what has been done, but instead if we must look to how we can continue to stand for what is right in the future. That is where American politics comes in. Even though I have often disagreed with aspects of our government’s policy towards Israel, there was never any question whether America stood with Israel, until now. I had many complaints and disagreements when Obama ran for president in 2008, but none as clear as my belief that he was anti-Israeli. Obama’s mentor and long time reverend was a clear anti-semite, he surrounded himself with the most anti Israeli foreign policy advisors in the country, and had a long history of association with Pro-Palestinian advocates. Despite all of this evidence, Israel supporters (including most Jews) listened to his empty words of support for Israel and voted for him. As president, Obama has done and said one thing after another to re-enforce the belief that he is not pro-Israeli and yet many in the media will continue to cover for him. He would say at AIPAC that Jerusalem must not be divided, and then a day later tell us that was not what he believes and the media would tell us that is an acceptable position. Just this week he completely shifted U.S. policy in regards to the starting point for negotiations of the borders of a Palestinian state, and yet some try to convince us that is somehow not a shift. Those people should be ashamed of themselves. They are trying to somehow reconcile a supposed support for Israel with support for an anti-Israeli president. Those positions are irreconcilable and it is time for those individuals to choose which side they are on. It is clear Obama sees the world in a very different way than me. To Obama, Israeli concessions are the obstacle to peace, not the fact that the Palestinian government now contains a terrorist group that is dedicated to killing both Israelis and Americans. Unlike me, Obama sees equivalence between the country that stood in solidarity with America after 9/11 and the people who cheered American deaths in the streets. I remember the impact that American policy and terrorism have already had on our strongest ally and its people, and I for one will not be silent in the face of this president’s complete abandonment of Israel. If we do not stand with Israel, then Israel cannot survive and America will be next. This president does not, but I do and I hope the rest of you will as well.
God Bless America