In a speech on Tuesday night, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman refuted the anti-Semitic canard that Diaspora Jews who defend and champion the Jewish state are guilty of “dual loyalty.”
Friedman, a proud Orthodox Jew whose four-year tenure was marked by the overseeing of and participation in a slew of pro-Israel moves, said that he’d been on the “receiving end” of that “shameful” accusation.
“Not only does support for Israel by American Jews not compromise or undermine support for our host country, but support for Israel is actually a quintessential American value,” he said in the opening remarks of his lecture, delivered upon his receipt of the Guardian of Zion Award from Bar-Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies.
“Indeed,” he went on, “the Bible, so much of which is predicated upon God’s covenant to our forefathers to install, and then later to restore, the Jewish people in the land of Israel, is foundational to the principles upon which America was founded … [and] Jews who support Israel stand for the very best of our American heritage and our American values.”
These, he explained, are the “Judeo-Christian values upon which the United States was forged.”
He was right, of course. Despite its location in the Middle East, Israel has more in common with the West. Though this is a great blessing, it poses a serious problem.
While the United States is engaged in an internecine battle for its political and cultural soul, Israel has external enemies bent on its annihilation. It’s a testament to the vibrancy of the Jewish state that Israelis are often able to overlook this fact when emulating their American counterparts, many of whom—in Friedman’s words—”chase the latest fad or half-baked theory, all driven to self-validate [their] poorest choices.”
As poorly as the United States is faring from the pull of the so-called “progressives” away from what Friedman called the “principles of personal responsibility, equality, opportunity, generosity and accountability,” it’s nothing compared to the existential danger that such a tug presents to Israel.
This is not merely because Israelis can’t afford to prioritize culture wars over concrete ones—such as the real and present perils of a nuclear Iran; terrorist attacks on the streets of Beersheva, Hadera, Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv; rockets from Gaza; and the current tsunami of Arab violence against Jews on the Temple Mount. It is also due to the watchful eyes of Israel’s foes, who are happy to witness any signs of Western implosion.
Nor is Israel as a beacon in a sea of barbarism a Jewish issue, which is precisely why the “dual loyalty” allegation against members of the tribe in other countries is a complete lie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of those Arab citizens of Israel who side with their country’s mortal enemies.
Their allegiance isn’t to the state in which they live and in whose parliament their representatives serve, but rather to various radical Muslim groups. Even many members of Israel’s Knesset—not to mention its governing coalition—belong in this category.
Take Joint List Party leader Ayman Odeh, for instance. In a video message earlier this month that he delivered from the Old City of Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, a riot hotspot, Odeh called on Arab-Israeli youth not to serve in the police or other security forces, which “are humiliating our people, humiliating our families and humiliating all those who come to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque.”
He then urged those already enlisted in the “occupation forces” to “throw the weapons back in their face and to tell them that ‘our place is not with you. We will not be part of the injustice and crime.’”
His reference to the “occupation” is an expression of loyalty with the peace-rejectionist Palestinians who mourn the nakba, the “catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment in 1948. They make no bones about their intention to “liberate Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” a mantra about eliminating the Jewish state in its entirety.
“Dual loyalty,” then, isn’t exactly the problem of Odeh and his ilk; treason would be a better term for it.
Anti-Israel organizations abroad certainly fit the “dual-loyalty” bill, however. After all, protesters waving Palestinian flags in New York to promote “resistance by any means necessary” and a “globalization of the intifada” are letting their true affinity show. And it’s not to Western civilization.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’”