Four thousand delegates from across the country have just wrapped up the annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference in Washington D.C.
No doubt some Jewish-Americans and others who generally support Israel would not gravitate towards a conference of Evangelical Christians. Valid concerns about separation of church and state and historical memories of Christianity imposed, by force at times, on one’s ancestors are not conducive to automatic trust.
But for those of us Jewish-Americans and supporters of democracy worldwide who understand Israel’s precarious position as Iran races towards attaining nuclear capability, Christian support for Israel–indeed, any solid support for Israel–is much appreciated.
As stated earlier, many of my fellow Jewish-Americans are concerned that, regarding alliance with Evangelical Christians, too much acceptance of the mingling of religion and politics could come back to haunt us at some future date. I am not deaf to this concern. But with a fanatical, human-rights abusing, rogue regime - one that has sworn itself to Israel’s destruction - on the cusp of attaining nuclear weapons, I think any reasonable assessment of priorities would dictate that Jewish-Americans and other Americans who value human rights, democracy, and personal security re-affirm our commitment to Israel. Doing so may mean reassessing our alliances. And realizing that few enough people in the world “get it” for us to reject any true ally based on knee-jerk thinking and stereotyping.
Two years ago, I attended the CUFI conference. The delegates with whom I spoke (I interviewed about a dozen people at random), struck me as committed, unapologetic, devoted supporters of Israel with an impressive command of facts and history.
On a personal level, meeting them was interesting and broadening - an experience I would recommend to my fellow Jewish-Americans, many of whom decry and fight prejudice and stereotyping on many fronts.
Here, I would say, is an opportunity to reduce stereotyping and prejudice that can simultaneously benefit our community and the State of Israel in its time of trial.
This trial is not going to go away without standing up to the enemy. While no one knows the future, Ahmadinejad’s regime shows absolutely zero indication that it will halt its march towards nuclear weaponization. The leaders of the free world trumpet support for Israel, but thus far adopt policies of equivocation at best, collaboration and appeasement at worst.
We have been here before.
Anyone with a sense of moral responsibility has worked–and has hoped–for the success of sanctions in stopping Iran. But should they fail, in coming months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face a historic decision, as will U.S. President Barack Obama: whether to allow a rogue regime led by a madman whose stated intention is to destroy another people to acquire the means to do just that.
We have been here before.
At this juncture, it is vital for Jewish-Americans to be open to alliance with anyone who “gets it.”
Following this year’s conference, 4,000+ Evangelicals, who personally paid their way to Washington D.C.–went to Capitol Hill to lobby their members of Congress on behalf of Israel.
How many of their fellow Americans, including Jewish-Americans, have done the same? How many have made it clear–on the pages of U.S. newspapers, in community government, at rallies in support of the Jewish state, in letters to their members of Congress–that their support of any politician - including President Barack Obama - will require staunch, clear-headed support for Israel in the days ahead? How many?
Not enough of us.
Before the Congressional elections in November, Jewish-Americans and others who care about human rights, democracy, Israel’s and our own survival must make it clear, at the ballot box, to President Obama, that our support is not to be taken for granted. The best way to send him this message is to vote Republican this time. If President Obama feels he can take Jewish-American and other Israel-supporting Democratic voters for granted - regardless of his actions vis a vis Israel, which have thus far been, overall, dangerously naive to the mortal threats Israel faces - he will be far less likely to take military action against Iran should it become necessary. He will also be less inclined to support Israel in the likely event the Jewish State is forced to take pre-emptive action, alone, in self-defense and defense of the free world. In such an unfortunate event, while the entire free world would inwardly breathe a sigh of relief, cowardice and duplicity would likely mean universal condemnation of Israel.
Repetition of phrases like, “The United States will always support Israel” is not a guarantee of safety–not for Israelis, not for American Jews, not for Christians, not for European and American leftists, not for moderate Muslims, not for gays, not for feminists, not for atheists, not for secular “apolitical” Westerners, all of whom would be radical jihadists’ next targets next were Israel to fall. Think you can stay out of by not taking a position? Think again.
So did a lot of European Jews, so did a lot of European Catholics, so did gypsies and homosexuals, so did the Austrians, the French, the Poles, the Czechs. So did Stalin. So did most Americans. Until Pearl Harbor.
We have been here before.
While I have little doubt in the solid moral instincts of the American people, I do not underestimate the character that will be required of President Obama to stand up against great pressure and make what would be a courageous and (in some circles) extremely unpopular decision to organize an international coalition to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, if necessary.
He will be far less likely to take such a stand if he does not feel it would have the support of enough Democrats, including Jewish-Americans, to be viable. To put it crudely, we can’t expect him or anyone to support us if we do not help ourselves.
Helping ourselves means recognizing our allies. This starts with rethinking our assumptions about conservatives in advance of the 2010 congressional elections.
This is not some partisan speech. It is a matter of Israel’s survival. There will be plenty of time, hopefully, to vote Democrat in the future and to debate prayer in the schools, abortion rights, and stem cell research. Frankly, debating those issues with the religious right will seem like an absurd luxury once the first dirty bomb goes off in a U.S. city, or Iran attains a nuclear weapon and begins exporting a wave of ferocious terrorism that makes 9-11 look like a practice run. These are just projected scenarios. No one knows the future. But is there any logical reason to asume that a rogue regime which is presently exporting terrorism around the world will decelerate its efforts once it is empowered–and cushioned–by the knowledge that it has a nuclear weapon, and therefore much more power to intimidate and threaten?
Israel does not have much time, the world does not have much time, to prevent from acquiring nuclear weapons a regime that has openly stated its intention to bring on a new Holocaust.
We have been here before.
This time around, let us help ourselves and our fellow Jews. Let us help the people of Iran, who are being tortured by their own government.
This time around, let us not assume the unthinkable is not a possibility. And let us not assume “It isn’t us they hate.”
This time around, let us not make the cowardly and foolish mistake of appeasing the crocodile, expecting it to stay full forever on the blood of our brothers and sisters.
Let us show character in the face of evil and stand together to defeat it - before it rages out of control.
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