An Ally, not a Satellite

Despite the fact that my daughter once had one of those T-shirts with a picture of an F-16 and the words “Don’t worry, America, Israel is behind you,” a mutual defense pact with the US is a terrible idea.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a great friend of Israel, recently proposed it, and there are rumors that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering it (right before our election, of course).

Don’t do it, Bibi.

With all due appreciation for my former country, which I still love and care about, increasing Israel’s dependence on the US is not in Israel’s interest.

Treaties are pieces of paper; countries act in ways that advance their perceived national interests regardless of what’s on the paper. In 1956, President Eisenhower promised (or appeared to promise) that the US would defend the right of passage through the Strait of Tiran, which was critical for Israel’s import of oil (in those days, we bought it from Iran!) But by 1967, President Johnson, embroiled in Vietnam, felt that he could not afford the risk that keeping Ike’s promise would involve the US in another conflict. When Egypt expelled UN troops and closed the straits to Israeli shipping, Israel was on her own.

In 2004, President Bush wrote a letter to PM Ariel Sharon encouraging him to continue with his plan to “disengage” (read: withdraw) from Gaza and northern Samaria. It included the statement that “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations [sic] centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” This was understood by Israeli officials, and confirmed by Elliott Abrams, a member of Bush’s National Security Council involved in the negotiations, to imply that construction in the large existing settlement blocs such as Betar Illit could continue. Sharon went ahead with the withdrawal. But in 2009, Obama’s new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, reneged on Bush’s promise, saying “there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements” about construction in any settlements. “These settlements must stop,” said Obama.

So much for Bush’s letter – and so much for American credibility.

Even if there were no worries about whether a future administration would live up to commitments made by a prior one, there is the question of how fast the US could come to Israel’s aid. Israel is a tiny country, with little strategic depth. Our response to an attack must be as close to immediate as possible, or it could be too late – as was almost the case in 1973. And although our politicians would deny it, the existence of a treaty would lead to complacency and the erosion of our own deterrent power. We not only ought to defend ourselves, we must.

One of the false accusations made against Israel by its opponents in the US is that “American boys have died for Israel,” in Lebanon or Iraq. A mutual defense treaty would be read as a commitment for Americans to become casualties in service of Israel, something that Israel doesn’t need or want.

I’ve argued that we would be best served by phasing out American military aid almost entirely, for multiple reasons. Israel can afford it: her state budget in 2019 is $116 billion, of which $17.5 billion goes for defense. The 10-year Memorandum of Understanding on aid negotiated with the Obama Administration calls for it to be spent entirely in the US. This weakens our own military industry. Even boots, which used to be made in Israel, are imported from America. And if we had a thriving military industry, sales of weapons to other countries might offset some of the loss in American aid.

Aid also distorts our purchase decisions. If the Americans are offering something for “free,” why build our own or buy something else that might be better?

Further, the existing aid arrangement gives the US too much leverage over Israeli policy. Perhaps we are happy with the Trump Administration’s recent actions on Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, UNRWA, and so on, but have we forgotten how the Obama Administration cut off the supply of Hellfire missiles during the 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza?

In 2012, PM Netanyahu and then Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to preemptively attack Iranian nuclear facilities, but were prevented from doing so by massive American pressure, including leaks about Israeli intentions. Perhaps Obama would have stopped Israel in any event, but the leverage of military aid on Israeli defense officials made it easier. I can’t prove it, but couldn’t then Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi – who strongly opposed bombing Iran – have been influenced by the folks that provided almost a quarter of his budget?

Trump will not be president forever, and some of his opponents today make Obama and Kerry look like Zionists. Shouldn’t we prepare for the worst case, rather than the best?

There are some things that we do want from the US. Continued diplomatic support in international forums, continued security and intelligence cooperation (which often greatly benefits the US), and continued sharing of defense technology, as we had with Iron Dome and other systems. We want to be treated as an ally, not as a target of diplomatic warfare and espionage, as we are by many European governments – and as we were for the Obama Administration.

We would like to be able to buy the weapons that we need with our own money, and would like to see the policy of helping us maintain a qualitative edge over our enemies continue. We would appreciate non-interference in our internal affairs, and also in our economic relations with other nations. These things would cost the US nothing – indeed, they would pay dividends – and save $3.8 billion in annual military aid.

One of the lessons the Jewish people learned from the Holocaust was that we could not rely on the non-Jewish world to come to our aid in times of danger. Today as antisemitism is growing throughout the world, even in the US, and when our regional enemies are putting strategies into place that they believe will be our undoing, it is more important than ever that we stay as strong – and as independent – as possible.

Posted in American politics, Israeli Politics, US-Israel Relations, War | 1 Comment

The nakba that is Ha’aretz

One   who   becomes   compassionate   instead of   cruel,   will   ultimately   become   cruel   instead   of   compassionate…
Midrash Kohelet Rabba (a discussion of this is here)

The lead editorial in Ha’aretz today is headlined “The Nakba isn’t Going Away,” and it touts a longer article by investigative journalist Hagar Shezaf published last week, about how Defense Ministry personnel have collected and sealed documents that describe the alleged expulsion and other ill-treatment of Arabs at the time of Israel’s War of Independence and afterwards.

The editorial accuses Israel of “expulsion, looting, murder and rape” in 1948. There is no doubt that some of these things did occur, although it is also true that we were far kinder to the Arabs than they would have been to us if they had won. I don’t object to the publication of such facts, although Ha’aretz has a tendency to exaggerate the extent and cruelty of our deeds and to accept the narrative of our enemies uncritically. What I do violently object to is their attribution of moral guilt and demand for some kind of accounting for it toward the Palestinians.

The editorial concludes:

Israel at age 71 is strong enough to address the moral failings of its past. The Nakba won’t go away. It’s still there in the landscape, in the rows of pear cactus of the abandoned villages, in the many arched houses of Jaffa and Haifa, and in the memory of the Palestinian community in Israel, and in the territories and across the border.

Instead of censoring and concealing things, the history of Israel’s establishment and the Palestinian society that was uprooted should be studied and taught. Commemoration signs should be put up at the sites of destroyed villages, and the moral dilemmas that have accompanied Israel since 1948 should be faced. Such recognition won’t resolve the conflict, but it will place dialogue between Jews and Palestinians in Israel on a foundation of truth instead of lies, shame and concealment.

No, this is absolutely not what “should” happen. Israel was born in war, a war that was forced on it by Arabs who couldn’t abide Jewish sovereignty, and who planned – in the words of Abdul Rahman Azzam, Secretary-General of the Arab League – “a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.” A pity, for the Ha’aretz editorial board, that we won the war and now have “moral failings” to address as a result. But we did, and there is no reason to be apologetic about it, or to get nostalgic over the losses of our enemies, who, incidentally, have not stopped murdering us whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Perhaps they wouldn’t be murdering us today if we had followed the same policy in 1967 that the Jordanians did when they conquered Judea/Samaria and part of Jerusalem in 1948. Every single Jew living in areas under their control was forced to leave at gunpoint. Some were murdered. Synagogues were destroyed, gravestones uprooted, and not a trace of the former Jewish inhabitants was allowed to remain. Did newspapers in Jordan call for a “dialogue” or agonize about their “moral failures?” To ask the question is to answer it.

War is ugly, especially when two peoples are fighting over a piece of ground. There were massacres and rapes on both sides (Benny Morris believes that he has evidence for at least a dozen rapes committed by Jewish forces, something that surprised both Morris and me). I think that he is correct when he says that “the entire [Jewish] leadership” understood that there would be no Jewish state as long as there wasn’t a large Jewish majority, and that it was absolutely necessary to encourage the Arabs to leave.

And that isn’t a moral problem. It was them or us, quite simply; and our claim on the land was stronger than theirs and we had fewer alternatives. Would Israel have survived its first 19 years if significantly fewer Arabs had fled in 1948? I doubt it. And if the Arabs had won the war, Azzam’s threat would surely have been carried out.

This is a fact of human life. It has always been so. Population transfers have occurred after almost every major war. Indeed, we were not cruel enough. I think that in the long run, there would have been fewer victims on both sides and more security in the region as a whole if Israel had expelled the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Eastern Jerusalem in 1967.

Just a note about “investigative journalist” Shazef. She works for Ha’aretz, but she is also paid by a European foundation, supported in part by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Flemish (Belgian) government, and other European sources, to write anti-Israel articles. But naturally she doesn’t let that cloud her journalistic judgment. Naturally.

What is the matter with Jews like the ones on the Ha’aretz editorial board? Why are they obsessed with bashing their country, the one that may have given their parents and grandparents a home when no other country would? Why do they find it so easy to understand the pain of the Palestinian Arabs, who themselves have brought so much pain into the world, but they can’t cut Israel a break? Why do they advocate national suicide for their own people out of concern for others? That isn’t morality, it’s stupidity.

We do not have to feel “shame” for 1948, and we have nothing to be ashamed of today, when the IDF shoots Arabs dead when they climb border fences. Gideon Levy, another Ha’aretz operative, eloquently mourns poor Abdallah Gheith, a teenager who “dreamed of praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and was shot climbing the fence. According to Levy, his father took him and a cousin to the fence and dropped them off! I am sure that he just wanted to live his dream of praying at al-Aqsa, aren’t you? Levy calls the border policeman that shot him a “murderer.” I call him someone doing a dangerous job, protecting traitors like Levy and the rest of the Ha’aretz gang from young men like Gheith, who might stick a knife in their necks on the street.

Because “traitor” is not too strong a word. Israel’s War of Independence never ended; every few years it flares up, but between times smolders in a deadly way. And the Ha’aretz newspaper, 60% owned by publisher Amos Schocken, who controls its editorial policy, is a brigade in service of Israel’s enemies. Although its Hebrew edition is the by far the least popular of Israel’s major newspapers, its English edition and website in English are widely read by government officials and businesspeople around the world. By presenting an almost uniformly critical view of Israel and Israelis in its opinion pages, and by slanting news reports to present Israel in the worst possible light, Ha’aretz contributes to the campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel that is part of the international effort to destroy it.

This constitutes treason. I understand that a free press is an important part of a free country, and that makes it difficult to shut down or prosecute a newspaper. But why do we need Ha’aretz when we have Aljazeera and Palestinian Authority newspapers?

I would like to understand what Schocken, Levy, and the others see when they stand in front of the mirror. After all, they are Israelis too. Does this cause them to feel the “shame” that they want all of us to feel? Or do they see themselves as courageous fighters for the “truth,” which is that Israelis are murderers and Arabs saintly victims?

It’s the latter, of course. They are not “self-hating” Jews, because they clearly love and value themselves. It’s just the Jewish people that they hate.

Posted in Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Israeli or Jewish History, Media, War | 3 Comments

This isn’t Ferguson

It turned out that Ferguson wasn’t what they said it was either, but that’s another story.

Don’t Americanize it. A black Israeli of Ethiopian origin was shot dead by a policeman, and there were riots, roads were blocked, cars were overturned and even set on fire. That is where the resemblance stops. There is skin-color racism in Israel, but the dynamics are different. Everything is different.

What happened: All the details are not clear at this time, and won’t be until the official investigation report comes out. But the policeman’s story has leaked out, and it seems to hold up. There are many details that I’ve heard about that I am not including because they can’t be verified. But it seems that what took place was this:

An off-duty policeman in civilian clothes was in a park with his wife and children. He came across a fight in which three older youths were beating up a 13-year old in an attempt to steal his phone. He identified himself as a policeman and ordered them to stop. They turned on him, at which point the 13-year old escaped.

The men approached the policeman and threw stones at him; he was hit several times, including in the head. He drew his weapon and fired a warning shot into the ground. The bullet hit the ground and either the whole bullet or a fragment of it ricocheted upward and struck Salomon Tekah (19) in the chest, killing him. It has been reported that an internal police investigation has confirmed this, and therefore the policeman will not be charged with manslaughter. He may or may not be disciplined.

I interviewed a veteran of the police who is now a firearms instructor, and who teaches security personnel of various levels both how to shoot and when and how they are permitted to do so. He explained that the protocol for arresting a suspect requires that a warning shot be fired unless the officer feels that there is imminent danger to his life. In an open area, the shot may be fired into the air, but in a crowded urban environment it may, indeed must, be fired into the ground. The park was surrounded by apartment buildings, and would be such an environment. In any event, the policeman said that he believed that there was imminent danger to his life.

The instructor also said that police officers are afraid of finding themselves in similar situations, in which they are forced to defend themselves, and then punished for it.

Spokespersons for Tekah’s family and the Ethiopian community have called it murder. The policeman has received death threats, pictures of him and his family have been posted to social media with incitement to kill him, and he has been placed under house arrest with his family in an undisclosed location.

The extent and intensity of the demonstrations, in some cases riots, seems to have taken the country by surprise. It shouldn’t have. There have been numerous cases of conflict between police and Ethiopians, including several others in which people were killed. In 2015, after a young soldier, Damas Pakada, was beaten by police, apparently without provocation, there were massive demonstrations. The Prime Minister appointed a commission to make recommendations, and both he and the police Inspector General met with Pakada to apologize. The policeman who beat him was fired.

The commission made 53 recommendations for changes in education, media, and policing. Some were implemented and some not, but activists in the Ethiopian community say that relations with the police have not improved since then. Ethiopians are arrested to a degree out of proportion to their fraction of the population, and young people say that they are often hassled on the street by police when they are doing nothing illegal.

Expressions of racism are common in some segments of Israeli society. There are many Ethiopians and other dark-skinned Israelis who work as doctors, nurses, and so on. They report that some patients refuse to be treated by them, sometimes abusively. This evening’s TV news featured a woman doctor describing one mother screaming “I won’t let that koosheet [nigger] touch my daughter.” I’ve heard similar stories from my friend who is of Indian origin, and dark skinned.

Even though it seems that the recent shooting, while tragic, was not a case of deliberate malice – or even negligence – by the police officer, it has been the straw that broke the camel’s back with many younger Israelis of Ethiopian origin, most of them born here. They don’t understand why they should accept the continued humiliations from the police and others. They serve in the army (where they sometimes claim that they are discriminated against) and they are asked to die for their country. Some of them do.

Ethiopian Jews were not brought here in chains; they were rescued from persecution. There was no slavery, no Jim Crow, no lynching. A great deal has been written about the mistakes that were made in trying to help people from a subsistence economy integrate into our modern highly technical society. But the ones who are angrily demonstrating today were born here, speak perfect Hebrew, and are quite conversant with modern technology. They are a product of our educational system (in which they also claim to have experienced discrimination).

They are right about one thing: it is their country, no less than it is the country of the descendants of the European Zionists that landed here in 1880, or the Sephardim who greeted them when they got off the boats, or the Eastern Europeans who fled the Nazis, or the North Africans, Egyptians, and Iraqis that were forced out of the communities where they had lived, sometimes for centuries, or the Yemenites who were also rescued from a highly undeveloped culture, or the Russians who escaped the Soviet Union. No less.

This is a difficult problem, especially for the police, who daily have to make decisions that could end up like the one that ended the life of Salomon Tekah, and the career of the policeman, who after all only wanted to stop a robbery and assault of a child.

Progress is being made in many areas. Although still lower than other groups, the percentages of Ethiopian-Israelis graduating from high school and going to university are increasing, as is average family income. Arrests are decreasing, especially for “contact offenses” where a policeman initiates contact by asking someone for their identity card, etc. Perhaps integration is taking longer than it did for other groups, and not fast enough for those that are experiencing it, but it is happening.

But certain things are clear: the ill-treatment of people because of their race must stop, in every context. My wife says there should be a sign at the door of every hospital: “People of numerous colors, religions, and origins work here. If that’s a problem for you, get your healthcare somewhere else.”

I don’t think we need the American-style discussions of how our society is structurally racist that are appearing in the progressive media. We don’t need Americans to tell us that our problem is just like theirs, because it isn’t. We certainly don’t need left-wing NGOs telling Ethiopian-Israelis that Israel is not their country, and that they should join with our enemies to destroy it. We don’t need to widen the cracks in our society.

We do need to take the complaints of the Ethiopian-Israeli community seriously. At the same time, they should stop calling what happened last week “murder.” They need to understand that the police have a job to do, an essential job to maintain a secure society. The anger on both sides needs to be replaced by rational problem-solving.

And we need to get everybody to internalize this simple fact: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. All of them.

Posted in Israeli Society, The Jewish people | 6 Comments

When Will the Snake Finally Lose its Head?

Nine out of 10 of the Democratic presidential contenders in the first debate raised their hands when asked if they would return to the JCPOA, the nuclear deal with Iran that Donald Trump removed the US from in May.

At more or less the same time, there was an announcement of the creation of a new “think tank” called the Quincy Institute (after John Quincy Adams, who said that America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy”). The organization received pledges of half a million dollars each from George Soros on the left, and Charles Koch on the right. Apparently these politically diverse billionaires agree with Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian-American Council and one of the founders of the institute, that the Iranian revolutionary Islamic regime is not a monster that the US should destroy.

Another voice calling for a return to “engagement” with Iran as opposed to the policy of economic sanctions followed by the Trump administration is National Security Action (NSA), the foreign policy lobby of the former Obama Administration. NSA is co-chaired by Ben Rhodes, one of the architects of “engagement” (which in practice meant payoffs, appeasement, and a guaranteed path to nuclear weapons).

One of the pillars of the Rhodes policy, which was detailed in the 2006 Iraq Study Group proposal of which he was one of the authors (my 2006 analysis is here), is the trading of Israel’s security for concessions from Syria and Iran. At that time, Syria was facilitating the transit of insurgents and Iranian weapons, including advanced roadside bombs that were killing US soldiers, across its border with Iraq. The idea was that the US would force Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria (as well as create a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria), and in return, Syria would close its border with Iraq.

Although Israel’s worst (or second-worst) Prime Minister ever, Ehud Olmert, made an overture to Syria in 2007, almost certainly at US prompting. But Bashar al-Assad wasn’t interested, preferring his alliance with Iran.

The idea of trading Israel’s security for the friendship of Iran continued through the Obama Administration. The Iranians reacted cynically, taking what they could get while still chanting “death to America.” Obama’s Defense Department applied pressure to the Israeli defense establishment in 2012 to scuttle a plan to bomb the centers of Iranian nuclear development, at a time when the window of opportunity to seriously set back the program was significantly wider than it is today.

It’s unfortunate to see that the policy of appeasement, reversed by President Trump when he re-imposed sanctions on Iran, is still championed by the Democratic opposition. But I suppose that “opposition” means opposition to everything Trump does and says, regardless of its merit. And it fits with the anti-Israel wind blowing from the left in America, where the Iranian threat is seen as an Israeli problem, not an American one. Indeed, one sees a congruence of the isolationist right and anti-American left – as illustrated by the supporters of the Quincy Institute – who find it useful to blame Israel for dragging the US into conflicts that it could otherwise avoid.

I’m convinced that most of those who want the US to rejoin the JCPOA – at least those who have given it serious thought and have the background to understand the situation, which excludes most of the democratic candidates – understand that it will lead to Iran building nuclear weapons. This is because the agreement has a sunset date for its restrictions, and compliance with some of the most important of them, like the prohibition of research into military applications, is impossible to verify (the Iranians refuse to permit inspection of military sites). All the JCPOA really does is protect Iran while it finishes developing its weapons. But people think, “So what? Even Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and the US has a massive nuclear deterrent.”

This is a mistake. Unlike Pakistan, Iran is aggressively proceeding with a plan whose first stage is to eliminate American influence in the Middle East, seize control of approximately one-third of the world’s petrochemical resources, establish a Shiite caliphate across the region, and eliminate Israel. Iran already effectively controls Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and is on the verge of establishing a land bridge to the Mediterranean. If it is allowed to succeed, it will become a threat to the West unmatched since the Soviet Union.

Today, according to Michael Doran in the Wall St. Journal (paywalled article here), Iran’s in-your-face violation of JCPOA requirements as well as sabotage of tankers and pipelines, and its downing of a US military drone, are intended to pressure the Europeans (who are seriously affected by disruptions in the oil supply).  Iran wants them to lobby the US to re-establish waivers, removed by Trump, that allow Iranian-European cooperation on supposedly “peaceful” nuclear projects. Great.

The Iranian regime thinks it can survive economic sanctions, at least until the end of the Trump Administration. It controls the allocation of resources in Iran, and will brutally suppress popular attempts at regime change. It also believes that it can hold Israel hostage, as shown by its recent threat that Israel would live only half an hour after an American attack like the one that Trump ordered – and then recalled – after the drone incident. It believes that that ultimately the view that a nuclear-armed Iran is preferable to the alternatives will prevail in the US and Europe.

It might, in the US. It is not possible in Israel, where it is understood that a nuclear Iran will have the ability to destroy the country, either with nuclear weapons or with conventional ones under a nuclear umbrella. And there is absolutely no doubt that destroying Israel is one of Iran’s major objectives. The fact that Israel has a protected retaliatory capability gives us some comfort, but not enough to justify inaction.

It could happen that the sanctions will cause Iran to end its program (but this is unlikely). It could happen that the US will bomb the Iranian nuclear installations (even more unlikely). Or, I suppose a meteor could land on Tehran and wipe out the regime (the most unlikely). But, as long as something is possible short of war, Israel will wait – until the last moment, the moment before Iran builds its bombs. Once this point is reached, there will be no alternative. Netanyahu and Gantz are agreed on this, if on little else.

The Saudi king once said that the only way to end the conflicts in the Middle East was to cut off the head of the snake, meaning Iran. He was right. When time runs out, the snake will lose its head.

Posted in American politics, Iran, US-Israel Relations, War | 3 Comments

Take your Zionism Seriously

As my readers probably know, I don’t see a lot of difference between antisemitism and misoziony.* The difference is that the former focuses irrational hatred on the Jewish people as a group or as individuals, and the latter targets the state that is the concrete expression of their peoplehood.

Sometimes misoziony is called “the new antisemitism.” While Jew hatred never went away, it became unacceptable in polite discourse or institutional policy in Western countries shortly after WWII. But like the alien in the movie of the same name, it could not be constrained, and burst from the collective chest of Western society in the form of vicious and pathological hatred of Israel.

No, they don’t hate Jews, they insist. They are only “criticizing Israel” for allegedly denying the Palestinians their human rights. But they can’t explain why they only criticize Israel in a world where most humans do not have “human rights,” nor why their “criticism” morphs into incoherent hatred, often using memes that are familiar from historic antisemitism; nor why nothing less than the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state would be enough to satisfy them.

But now apparently the wheel has come full circle, and the ceaseless demonization of Israel is being turned around and used to justify the old-fashioned persecution of Jews, even Jews that do not live in Israel and have nothing to do with her besides being Jewish.

Last week a Jewish writer named Richard Zimler told the Guardian that two organizations in the UK that had previously hosted events with him promoting his books would not do so again because he was Jewish. Zimler has no direct connection to Israel, although his latest book is about events that happened in the Holy Land – some 2,000 years ago. His other books are set in Portugal and Poland.

Apparently the organizations, in Zimler’s words, “feared a backlash – protests by their members and others – if they extended an invitation to a Jewish writer.” He believes that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, plus the antisemitism of a significant part of the Labour Party are responsible for making Jewish writers like himself radioactive.

This is the sort of treatment that one associates with 1930s Germany, or the Arab world after 1948. But it is happening today, in the democratic UK. It is the way that a minority prepared to be sufficiently unpleasant, even violent, can coerce a neutral majority to cooperate in the persecution of a targeted group.

The situation in America is not exactly the same, but it is not entirely different, either. American Jews are caught between armed and murderous neo-Nazis, a “progressive” Left which is becoming progressively more anti-Jewish (especially on campuses), and a growing Muslim population which is seeded with Imams who preach violence against Jews.

During the 19th century, the insecurity of European Jews and the realization that the emancipation of Jews from various restrictions would not bring about their full acceptance into society or even protect them from pogroms, gave impetus to the Zionist movement. One premise of Zionism was that only in their own state would it be possible to provide security for the Jewish people (as well as enable their cultural and spiritual development). The truth of this is no longer debatable. It was clearly and horribly demonstrated before, during, and immediately after WWII.

Today, national and local authorities in the diaspora have not been especially effective in protecting Jews, although in most countries the governments are at least nominally opposed to antisemitism. That may change in the UK, if Jeremy Corbyn should come to power (although he will express formulaic opposition to antisemitism, his actions clearly belie his words).

No, of course I am not predicting a genocide. Not in Britain. But Jews could be marginalized, forced out of  important positions in culture and politics, punished economically. Many of them would find it in their best interests to leave. It’s happened over and over, throughout the world.

One hundred years ago, there were tens of thousands of Jews in Arab countries, millions in the former Russian Empire, flourishing Jewish populations in Germany, France, and England, and of course several million in the USA. Today there are practically zero in the Muslim world, and only vestigial populations in Russia and Eastern Europe. The few that are left in Germany keep a low profile due to antisemitism from Muslim migrants, and many French Jews have already fled for the same reason. The roughly 280,000 Jews of the UK have mostly held firm, but many are on the edge of their chairs as a result of the Corbyn phenomenon.

The number of Jews in the US has declined for the first time since 2000 (due to assimilation and low birthrate), both absolutely and as a percentage of the population, and the center of both Jewish population and culture has moved to Israel. Jews are still doing well in the US, but the writing is on the wall.

Zionism is a rational response to antisemitism and the best way to guarantee the survival of the Jewish people and their language, religion, and culture. Of course it is impossible for every Jew in the diaspora to pick up and go to Israel, for numerous reasons. But it is possible for every Jew to support the Jewish state, and also to prepare themselves – study Hebrew, and the history, geography, and politics of the state – for the possibility that one day they or their children will live in Israel.

There are many things a Jew living in the diaspora can do to fight antisemitism, like organizing for self-defense, that will make a difference to their situation. But there is only one way to secure the future of the Jewish people. Jabotinsky’s Betar youth groups in Eastern Europe took military training, but they also strove to get themselves and others to Eretz Yisrael.

Are you a Zionist? Then, like Betar, take your Zionism seriously.

* Misoziony (pronounced mis-OZ-yuh-nee) is extreme and irrational hatred of Israel.

Posted in Jew Hatred, The Jewish people, Zionism | 3 Comments