Israel Won’t Ever Be the Country of American Fantasies—Nor Should It Aspire to Be

Following last week’s election, the veteran Middle East reporter Thomas Friedman authored a New York Times column under the headline “The Israel We Knew Is Gone,” full of dire predictions about what will befall the Jewish state now that its citizens have returned its longest-serving prime minister to power. Daniel Gordis dissects the column’s faulty assumptions and misguided conclusions, which distill misconceptions that plague much American commentary on Israel:

Here’s the heart of the problem. There are many people around the world who want Israel to be something it does not wish to be. They want it to be successful, but humble. They want it to be strong and secure, but still desperate for foreign support of all sorts. They want it to be Jewish, but in a “nice” kind of way. Israeli dancing (which I haven’t seen here in years), flags at the right time, a country filled with “Hatikvah moments,” as some call them. A country traditional enough to be heartwarming, but not so traditional that it would dare imply that less intense forms of Jewish life cannot make it. A country steeped in memory, but also one that is finally willing to move on.

An Israel moderate in every way would be an Israel easy to love. It would be a source of pride, but not a source of shame. It would be an Israel that would make us feel great as Americans and as Jews. The only problem is that that Israel doesn’t exist, and it never has.

And what of Friedman’s more specific gripes?

Tom Friedman writes that “Netanyahu has been propelled into power by bedfellows who see Israeli Arab citizens as a fifth column who can’t be trusted,” intimating that Israeli Arabs are not a fifth column. Some are; some aren’t. . . . I’ve interviewed many Arab women and men who are quite the opposite. But if you live in the Negev, if you have farmland you can’t protect from Arabs in the south or the north, you’re fearful. If you’re a young Jewish Israeli woman afraid to walk in downtown Beer Sheva, you don’t think a “fifth column” is a ludicrous claim. . . . Friedman can dismiss it, but Israelis increasingly don’t. The left and center ignore the issue, and now, Israelis are ignoring them.

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Read more at Israel from the Inside

More about: American Jewry, Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, New York Times

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror