OpinionJewish Diaspora

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month the right way

We must stand up and be counted for the sake of Israel and the U.S.

The relationship between Israel and the United States has frayed since the start of war against the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. Credit: FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock.
The relationship between Israel and the United States has frayed since the start of war against the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. Credit: FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock.
Bobby Rechnitz. Credit: Courtesy.
Bobby Rechnitz
Bobby Rechnitz is a Los-Angeles based philanthropist and real estate developer who serves as chairman of the Golda Meir Commemorative Coin Committee and the Abraham Accords Roundtable.

In 2006, then-President George W. Bush proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month. The idea was to discover, explore and celebrate our Jewish-American heritage.

There is a certain amount of irony in celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month at this time. We have much to be thankful for and much to be concerned about.

Unfortunately, this year is not a normal year. We cannot act as normal, or ignore the elephant in the room. That elephant is the fight that our beloved State of Israel is facing at this moment; a fight for its very existence on at least six fronts.

Now is not the time to talk about Abraham Heschel, latkes, gefilte fish or the hora.

We need to talk openly and bluntly about what we can and should be doing while our Israeli friends, relatives and people are fighting for their lives.

Ever since we were children, we learned about the silence of the American Jewish community in the lead-up to and during the Holocaust.

We all played theoretical games of fancy about what we would have done in their place at that moment.

While in no way comparable to the Holocaust, a similar moment is upon us.

The Jewish state is facing multiple genocidal enemies and what we have learned or should have learned from history is that when a genocidal enemy says they seek to kill the Jews, we should believe them.

For the Jewish people in the U.S. and friends of Israel, I say that this is our moment.

We must stand up and be counted. We have no time for politics or being concerned about dual loyalty.

We do not do this as Israelis but as proud American Jews.

We do it because we know that Israel is a faithful and strong ally of the U.S.

As President Biden has said on multiple occasions, if Israel did not exist, we would have to create it.

Israel is an indispensable friend of the U.S. The American people in poll after poll have shown that they understand this and back the Jewish state.

Unfortunately, a tiny minority of extremists is hijacking elements of American foreign policy, whether on university campuses, voting “non-committed” in primaries or even in the heart of the foreign policy and political establishment here in Washington, D.C.

It is these voices that enabled unprecedented damage to relations between the U.S. and Israel at such a crucial point, when the world—friend and foe alike—is looking on.

It is these voices that have promoted the unacceptable, dangerous and foolish policy of conditioning military aid during a time of war.

It is these voices that allowed the U.S. not to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution that was closer to the Hamas point of view than Israel’s.

It is these voices that have prevented the U.S. from being far more forceful in ensuring the ICJ and the ICC were not politicized and hijacked into becoming weapons used against the one Jewish state.

We have seen in the past that when the U.S. takes a strong stance against these multilateral bodies, they invariably back down.

We see the lack of pressure and resources exerted very clearly. We now see the results: Our greatest ally in the Middle East is subjected to ICJ claims of genocide and ICC arrest warrants against democratically elected leaders for the first time.

It is long past time for us to raise our voices because tomorrow might be too late.

The attacks on the State of Israel from land, sea and air; from The Hague; from university campuses, sections of the media, online and on our streets are becoming more emboldened by the day.

This is the time for the Biden administration and Congress to hear our demands.

The U.S. must immediately snap back and even deepen sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The regime in Iran is at the source of all the unrest, violence and bloodshed in the Middle East and beyond. It is weakened at home but emboldened by Western reticence to put pressure on the mullahs financially, diplomatically and militarily.

The U.S. should use all financial and diplomatic pressure on the U.N. and its constituent bodies, as well as the ICJ and the ICC, to force them to cease their attacks and farcical proceedings against Israel.

These are all test cases because if they succeed against Israel, the U.S. is next on the list. They have tried investigating Americans in the past and they will try in the future should they be successful against Israel.

The administration should end its meddling in the politics of Israel. The U.S. should only ever seek regime change amongst bad actors in problematic nations, not within our democratic ally.

Those who say that there are extremists in the Israeli government should understand that they are doing the bidding of extremists in our government.

The U.S. has to have Israel’s back, fully and unequivocally, defensively and offensively. It should be giving the Jewish state everything it needs to defeat Hamas fully and achieve total victory, push Hezbollah back from Israel’s northern border and end the threat from Iran.

Our regional allies are watching the U.S. start to turn its back on its ally and are asking themselves whether they can rely on such leadership with China and Russia waiting in the wings.

Ultimately, these are some of the things American Jews need to see. They are good for Israel, yes, but they are also good for the U.S.

The world is watching.

We American Jews are watching but we will no longer be waiting.

We will no longer sit on the sidelines and be taken for granted. We will use our power, resources and voting power to protect American interests.

We will no longer be silent.

This is how we celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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