Published as Guest Commentary in the Delaware State News on August 1, 2006.—————————You don’t have to be a Jew to support Israel. It’s a democracy like the United States. It has been a staunch American ally in an unfriendly neighborhood. It has strong political, social and religious ties to the United States.
However it’s more personal for me. One of my earliest memories is the destruction of airplanes sitting on the tarmac in Jordan by terrorists on September 12, 1970. I was 3 years old.
At the time my sister was a flight attendant for TWA. One of the planes hijacked happened to be a TWA flight, and my father – a physically imposing man – was driven to hand-wringing and pacing until he learned that my sister was safe.
Two years later I sat mesmerized in front of the TV watching the hostage drama in Munich unfold. There 11 Israeli athletes were held for 18 hours by Palestinian terrorists before being massacred.
The Arab-Israeli conflict became a part of my daily life when the Arab oil producing states decide to punish the Western nations for supporting Israel. Gasoline doubled overnight from 59 cents a gallon, straining my parent’s budget and ushering in a period of high inflation. Terms like ‘Misery Index’ entered my vocabulary as I watched the nightly news during dinner at home.
As I grew into adolescence I became fascinated by world history. I saw unforgettable photos of the Holocaust and read the stories of unimaginable horror in the concentration camps. I learned how Israel was founded from the ashes of the crematoria.
Since its founding, Israel has been cast into the historical role of the Jewish people: the world’s scapegoat. For decades, the Israelis have been portrayed as greedy – taking away land from the Arabs. People forgot that Israel accepted a two-state solution proposed by the United Nations at its creation. It was the neighboring Arab states, and a large proportion of the Arab population of the prospective Arab state of Palestine who refused to accept the existence of Israel. This continues to be the stand of the Palestinian Authority under the elected leadership of Hamas – a terror group explicitly founded to wipe out Israel and enslave the Jews living there.
The terror attacks continued. As the Israelis suffered, the world convinced itself that the only solution was for Israel to trade the land it had won in battle for peace.
In 2000, Israel itself believed this. It pulled out of south Lebanon. With American guarantees and assurances to both sides it offered the Palestinians all the land it had gained in the prior 33 years. But the Palestinians refused the offer.
Soon, families sitting to dinner were murdered by Hamas terrorists. Toddlers eating pizza at a Jerusalem fast food restaurant were slaughtered by Islamic Jihad attackers, their families paid by Saddam Hussein, their faces painted on walls and names bestowed on streets in Gaza and the West Bank.
Soon after this attack, America experienced 9-11 and shared in the misery of being under attack. On 9-11 the World prided itself by saying everyone had become Americans. In retrospect the truth is that on 9-11 we became Israelis.
Still, Israeli clung to the myth that by pulling out of the lands it had captured in battle, it could buy peace. It pulled out of Gaza, dragging Jewish nationalists screaming at the soldiers who carted them away. Gaza was emptied of Jews, and the first thing the Palestinians did upon taking control was to set fire to the evacuated Jewish synagogues, celebrating and dancing as the temples burned to the ground.
Now Israel finds itself at open war with its enemies. Rockets packed with ball bearings fall upon its northern cities. Hamas attacks continue in the south. Once again the Europeans and the United Nations return to their anti-Semitic roots and try to hold Israel down so that its enemies can attack her without fear of being struck back.
But as an American, I see the truth. It may be possible to talk your way out of a mugging, but you can’t negotiate with a killer. Israel has tried negotiating, has tried playing by the rules imposed on it by the United Nations and the Europeans – and what has it gotten? Dead Israelis.
I stand for Israel because I see it as a desert that has bloomed through the hard work and brilliance of its people. I see a people that has suffered unjustly for thousands of years continue to suffer today. I see a people who refuse to accept the status of victims. I see a people who value peace but aren’t willing to trade it for annihilation.
I stand for Israel because Israel is a nation where Arabs, Jews and Christians live together in peace – next to states where religions and their books are banned outright. I stand for Israel because it values everyone. It holds gay pride rallies next to nations where gays are hung from forklifts. It treats women as equals in all ways, while the women in nearby nations can’t even leave their homes alone.
I stand for Israel because it is at the frontier of civilization, an outpost of honesty in a region mired in corruption. I stand for Israel because in the fight to preserve the light from the darkness, we are all Israelis.