US President Barack Obama vists Yad Vashem 370.
Have you ever heard of an organization called QUIT? It’s a lovely organization –
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorists. I’m not joking. Imagine for a moment that
the social activists of QUIT decide to relocate their San Francisco offices to
Ramallah or Gaza City. How many days (or maybe hours) would pass until their
offices burn to the ground and their staff are murdered? What makes QUIT
intriguing is that it knows this about Gaza City. Nonetheless, it chooses to
side with those who would hang them in the public square over siding with Tel
Aviv, the gay capital of the Middle East. “Professors for Palestine” are not
much different – they’re a group of “openminded” academics who oppose the only
liberal democracy in the Middle East.
It’s bizarre and counterintuitive
but it’s undeniable, the people that seemingly should be our greatest allies are
our worst enemies.
The question is begging to be asked: Why does the
liberal Left globally, universally oppose Israel? On college campuses, the
anti-Israel activists aren’t isolating the settlements or demanding peace talks.
They’re calling for the end of Israel. At rallies they march and chant “From the
river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Just to be clear, Tel Aviv and
Netanya are as much between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as Hebron
The anti-Zionists are waging a fullfledged ideological war
delegitimizing the Jewish state and the right for Jews to live anywhere in
For years I dismissed these people as classic anti-Semites who
found attacking a Jewish state more politically available than attacking Jews.
Although I’m sure that there are a lot of good ol’ -fashioned Jew haters in the
mix, after speaking with many of these left-wing activists, I realize that their
orientation, aimed at undermining Israel, is rooted in a basic flaw. The sad
news: the flaw is our fault. The good news: we can fix it.
the State of Israel has a protocol when distinguished guests visit Israel. If a
senator, diplomat or foreign president comes in an official capacity, the first
destination they are directed to is Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum.
The context is clear – the Jewish state is a result of the Holocaust.
therein lies our essential mistake and conveys a deficient, even damaging
message to the world that ultimately harms the State of Israel.
time again, we lean on the Holocaust, even if only implicitly, to justify
Israel’s existence. Laying on guilt and pulling on heart strings may have been a
useful tactic when the Holocaust was still a vivid image in world consciousness.
Today it’s not only ineffective, it’s harmful.
In an interview with Larry
King a few years ago, now-outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
challenged, “Let’s say that there was a Holocaust. Why does a tragedy in Europe
justify the suffering of the Palestinian people? A European problem should be
solved in Europe, not the Middle East.”
Although I’m not keen on agreeing
with Iranian leaders of late, his logic is more than compelling – what does a
European problem have to do with the Middle East? The current narrative on
Israel is that a group of Jewish Europeans savagely suffered under Nazi
domination with little concern or attention from the Allied forces. To
compensate and perhaps avoid that moral failure, the Jews were relocated by the
West to British-controlled Palestine, allowing for the establishment of the
State of Israel. In that narrative, the Jewish connection to Israel is
historically shallow and almost random. Israel is seen a foreign occupying force
oppressing the indigenous people of the land. In that narrative, “settlements”
and “apartheid” (loosely defined) fit right in. It is through that lens the
liberal Left sees Israel, and as we continue to confirm that narrative, we lose
the battles for public opinion.
THE TIME has come for a total overhaul of
Israel’s messaging to the world. Our story must be told. The world must hear the
story of the Jewish people.
Jews are not a European people; we are a
Semitic people from the Middle East. Jews are not occupying foreign soil, we
have returned to our ancient homeland. We are called “Jews” not because of
Judaism, but because we once lived in Judea and Jerusalem was our capital. We
lived as a people in our land for millennia. We saw the fall of the great
pharaohs of Egypt and the rise of mighty Assyria. We suffered under the rule of
Babylonia and our people defeated the Syrian-Greek Empire.
delved into the depths of the human mind and Alexander the Great conquered the
entire world, the Jews continued to live as a free people in their land, Judea
Our story must be told now more than ever. The Jewish
people alive today are another link in a 4,000-year-old chain that began with
Abraham and Moses, and continued through the biblical era of judges and kings.
The warrior priests known as the Maccabees and students of Rabbi Akiva aligned
with Bar Kochba fought for our freedom in Israel. And it was imperialist Rome
that ultimately conquered our land, destroyed our Temple and exiled us from our
homeland, scattering Jews to all corners of the world – including
We lived through 2,000 years of exile, persecution and prayer.
Every force known to humanity tried to extinguish the flame of our people and
our hopes to return to Zion. Against all adversity and all odds, the Jewish
people hoped to return to our land and rebuild Jerusalem.
No matter what
happened the night before, whether a pogrom or crusade, Christian or Muslim
oppression, the next morning the Jew dusted himself off, wrapped himself in a
tallit, faced Jerusalem and prayed to come home.
Our people never lost
Today we are living the prayers of our fathers and mothers as we
walk through the land of our ancestors. Our connection to Israel began long
before the atrocities of the 1940s. It is time to transform the dialogue around
the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel. If we hope to win the hearts and minds
of people around the world, we must speak not only as modern Israelis but as
It’s time for the world to hear our story. The writer is a
filmmaker, Israel advocate, educator and journalist. He is the deputy director
of the World Mizrachi Movement.
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