I was reminded this week by one of the most influential American Jewish families how very crucial it is to continue the tradition of defending Israel. I am talking about the Jacobs family from Englewood, New Jersey.
I have written in the past about Bobby Jacobs’ incredible relationship with the late Sen. Jesse Helms, which transformed America’s relationship with Israel. However, I did not know about Bobby Jacob’s special connection to Democratic Rep. John Murphy of Staten Island.
Congressman Murphy was a close friend of Lyndon Johnson, the 36th president of the United States. On Oct. 12, 1966 Johnson visited Staten Island and singled out Rep. Murphy for the great job he was doing.
Since the 1956 Sinai War, after which Israel was forced to give the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt, President Dwight Eisenhower promised Israel that it would be able to use the Straits of Tiran unimpeded. As a result, Eilat became a major port and thus Israel’s lifeline.
During Johnson’s presidency, Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser threatened to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. Israel asked Johnson to send the 6th Fleet to prevent it. Johnson refused. Bobby Jacobs then asked his friend Rep. Murphy if Johnson could at least send fighter jets to Israel. Murphy was able to convince Johnson to do so.
In May 1967 Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran, forcing Israel to go to war the following month. Israel was able to preemptively wipe out Egypt’s Air Force, which played a crucial role in Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War. Although the shipment of American jets arrived after the war, the promise to send it helped Israel calculate its strategy and led to the preemptive strike. It is extraordinary what one man can do on Israel’s behalf.
Fast forward to the present. A bipartisan delegation led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) visits Israel and refuses to meet with the democratically elected Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties. This is a slap in the face of Israel and democracy. If that weren’t bad enough, the Conference of Presidents decided to do the same thing.
Jews the world over should be in an uproar. Israel advocacy has helped Israel survive and thrive. I recently had the honor of hosting MK Simcha Rothman of the Religious Zionism Party. I hope many other organizations follow suit. These parties represent the future of Israel.
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.
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