I think Jewish Americans, of whom I am one, need to do some soul searching.
Not me. I mean, yes, I need to do some soul searching. Every day. But not on this one.
A feeling of surprise came over me recently when I saw a call for Jews to join a rally supporting Israel. With the Left and even moderates so disgusted by Israel and so sympathetic to the Palestinians, it seemed to me deeply incongruous that Jews, given their tendency toward liberalism, would be showing their support for a those wicked imperialists backed by evil right wingers like myself.
Of course, the feeling of surprise was only momentary, because I obviously understood what was going on. They were backing Israel not because of any principles that they hold. Most Jews would in this case assuredly side with the “victims” over the “oppressors.” Except that in this case, the “oppressors” are fellow Jews.
A liberal Jewish friend of mine lamented the other day that the entire press – both sides – seemed to be unsupportive of Israel. Of course, he doesn’t read the conservative press and would surely turn to a pillar of salt if he turned on Fox News. And so I told him exactly how incorrect he was.
Liberals think that what differentiates them from conservatives – rather, what elevates them above conservatives – is that the right lacks a heart. But the truth is that many on the right have so much heart that they want to use their head to achieve justice.
That is, they don’t paste bandaids, they don’t give handouts, and they don’t recoil every time someone gets hurt. They think. They withhold tears for the time being and look at the larger picture to ask, What policies, even if painful in the short term, will help more people in the long run?
It is for the same reason conservatives fight the hopeless dependency of feel-good welfare that they are able to abide the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Because they know that Israel is doomed if it allows its citizens to be wantonly bombed, and that the prospect for even more violence down the road declines if the Israeli Defense Forces are allowed to grievously wound, and hopefully entirely neuter, Hamas.
American Jews agree and are using the same hard-headed thinking toward Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
But I often feel I hear an even more passionate defense of Israel from conservative non-Jews than I do from liberal Jews.
Sure, some of this has to do with Biblical prophesy that presupposes Israel’s existence. But even more so, conservatives have a sense that Israel is the lone, civilized democracy in the region, a sacred ally fighting forces of evil that are the same ones that want to come sink America. They know Israel’s enemies want to destroy it, and that effective self-defense can be unpleasant.
That is, they’ve thought about it.
Liberal Jews must know, at some level, that they are being inconsistent. They must have a twinge of guilt on the bus on the way to the pro-Israel rally. Maybe they understand that if it they weren’t Jewish, and it wasn’t Jewish soldiers killing civilians, they’d be at some rally sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanding justice for the Palestinians and the immediate repatriation of those who left Israel during the 1948 war.
Really the title of this piece should be “Jewish Hypocrisy.” I just couldn’t bring myself to name it that though for fear of stirring anti-Semiticism.
I wish the irreconcilability of their Israel cheerleading with their other positions would provoke Jews to consider the truly compassionate and just approach to the issues, the conservative approach. Or at least to give it some thought.
But I’m not optimistic. Blood is thicker than grey matter.