Feeling a Little Closer to My Jewish Home

Declaring the Jewish State (Wikimedia Commons)Declaring the Jewish State (Wikimedia Commons)
Support for Israel is widespread among American citizens. Many recognize our little country as the nation that gave the world the Tanach, which served as the foundation of much of western civilization. Genesis 22:18 stated that all nations would be blessed by Abraham’s descendants. His grandson’s name was changed from Jacob to Israel and the rest is history.
Noteworthy, of course, are the many contributions that modern Israel has made to alleviate many of the world’s problems. Israel is renowned for its research and innovation in desalination, agriculture, life-saving medicine, technology, and security – to mention only a few. Those wanting to destroy Israel would destroy the source of many of the world’s most needed solutions?
According to a 2014 Pew Research survey, 66% of the American general public sees U.S. support for Israel as either “about right” or “not supportive enough.” Furthermore, 85% of Jews and 70% of Christians agree. Among the unaffiliated, 54% agree.
Israel advocacy is becoming popular in some pro-democracy groups as a backlash to the hostility of so many hateful people against such a little peace-loving democracy, in general, and as a reaction to the BDS movement, in particular. For example, Standing with Israel and the South Coast Jewish Community are sponsoring this year’s local Yom Ha-Atzmaut celebration. I will be the keynote speaker and will be discussing “The Miracle of Israel.” Following my presentation, there will be Israeli dancing and refreshments befitting a birthday party.
I have been passionate about Israel for a long time. My wife and I spent our extended honeymoon almost 42 years ago volunteering on a couple of Israeli kibbutzim for fourteen weeks. My first university degree was in Near East Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, with a primary focus in Hebrew studies. My six trips to Israel also included a summer ulpan at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
My wife and I hope to make aliyah after her retirement. Our ultimate dream is to live on the section of the northern Israeli coast that most resembles the beautiful Oregon coastline. In the meantime, I hope to continue writing for the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel, and Diario Judío México as a way of doing what I can for Israel. I also compile a biweekly Digest of Israeli News and Analysis for the many pro-Israel friends I have met over the years. Anyone can receive a free email subscription by writing to ocfidina@yahoo.com.
As an Arabic translator for U.S. Army Intelligence for four years, I was a member of the team that translated, summarized, and catalogued for the U.S. intelligence community the Palestine Liberation Organization’s documents on loan to the U.S. after being captured by Israel during the First Lebanon War. I also served in Egypt during Bright Star ’87.
My wife and I returned to Bloomington, her hometown, to raise our two sons and live the coveted “normal life” for the next 26 and ½ years. During this period, I was one of the Hebrew Torah readers in the local Jewish community. So I am Jewish for sure, but I feel equally Israeli. All Israelis are not Jews, but in a very real sense, all true Jews are Israelis. I see Israel as the refuge for all of my people. We all belong to the House of Jacob.
Many Israeli communities were coming under direct rocket bombardment by the Hezbollah terror organization in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War. How could I stand silent? I along with others then co-founded a local Israel advocacy group in which I played an active role until my move to southwest Oregon a year and a half ago.
The group worked with Jewish and other pro-Israel organizations to defend Israel against enemies questioning its very right to exist. There are approximately 50 Muslim-majority nations in the world and those same nations question the right of just one Jewish nation to exist. That’s not even fair. They need to get over themselves.
For the past 7 decades, hostile Middle East organizations and their ilk in the West have attempted to delegitimize Israel and have pledged to ultimately destroy it. I work to raise support for Israel in order to combat terror attacks against Israeli civilians, the resurgence of anti-Semitism in many parts of the world, and the unfair treatment that the Jewish state often receives at the United Nations.
I for many years promised that I would move to the Oregon coast when I retired because of my memory of briefly living near Cottage Grove as a small child and my many vacations in southwest Oregon during the last decade. Upon my retirement, I moved to Oregon and soon founded the Oregon Coast Friends of Israel because my idea of a fulfilling retirement is one spent volunteering for a worthy cause. Is there a better cause than defending our ancient homeland, even if it is from afar until I can make aliyah? Every time I make a stand for Israel, I feel a little closer to my Jewish home.
For me, Israel advocacy is a labor of love for which I have never accepted one penny. Although I am very much an American patriot who long ago gave an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, both domestic and foreign, I believe that Israel, as America’s strongest strategic ally in the Middle East, deserves just as much support. The United States and Israel are sister nations. I will continue to defend both American and Israeli values wherever I live.
Yoeli’s Mandate: Leave your mark, make a difference for the good, and do your part to make sure that they never again devour Jacob or make his habitation waste.
You may write to Yoeli Kaufman at ocfidina@yahoo.com