In the Midst of a Global Pandemic, Jews Are Coming to Israel

Reflecting on the subdued Independence Day that the Jewish state celebrated on Wednesday, as most coronavirus-related lockdown regulations remained in effect, Ruthie Blum stresses that the nation has much to be proud of. And those things go beyond “the Star of David on our flag or the international acclaim received by our start-ups.”

One peculiar side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic [has been] a spike in the desire of Israelis living abroad to return home, and an increase in the interest of Diaspora Jews in undertaking aliyah. According to [its] chairman Isaac Herzog, . . . the Jewish Agency has been receiving thousands of inquiries from Israelis, and hundreds from British, French, and American Jews.

Two families who arrived this month—a couple from France and the Israeli parents of American-born children returning after a fourteen-year stint in New York—[stated] that a major factor in the timing of their move was Israel’s handling of the pandemic. Both [couples] said they felt far safer in Israel, from a health standpoint, than in the U.S. and Europe. . . . The French wife stated that Israel, unlike her country of origin, does not have a shortage of surgical masks.

Two young Israeli men studying in Italy who came rushing back when the crisis struck expressed the same sentiment. One told [reporters] that he used to take Israel for granted, but when he witnessed Italian hospital staff refusing to provide ventilators to any patient over the age of sixty, he had an awakening. “Even if Israel ran out of equipment, it would find a way to acquire the machines before letting anyone die,” he said.

It’s a great lesson for all the Israelis who have been whining . . . about the country’s “disastrous” healthcare system in general and the health ministry’s “poor management” of the COVID-19 crisis in particular. Sadly, it’s a message most of us won’t hear, especially not now, when the decreasing number of patients on ventilators has enabled us to focus the brunt of our anxiety on the decimated economy.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Aliyah, Coronavirus, Isaac Herzog, Israeli Independence Day, Jewish Agency

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship