By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Of late, our former President, Jimmy Carter has been pilloried for his public comments on Israel and the role that nation plays in our own foreign policy. Encapsulating Carter’s argument; he opines that too much focus and blind allegiance is given by the American government to Israel regardless of how Israel deploys her own foreign policy. We, as Americans are challenged by our former President to start by asking what is in our own best interest first. It is a very hard pill he asks us to swallow.
Carter does not stand alone. Our first President, George Washington said, “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have as little political connection as possible... Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalships, interest, humor, or caprice?... It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
I am full agreement with both former Presidents.
Though I was thoroughly disappointed in his Presidency, since he left office, President Carter has proven himself 100x over a man of great honor and integrity. Perhaps it comes from being shed of your obligation to perform and have the right to speak freely. At that level, I share a common bond with the former President.
In my opinion, it is OK to be a Jew, support the idea of a Jewish State of Israel and still be appalled and offended at the antics of the government of the State of Israel. Just as one can be an American and oppose American policy. Israel gives us a prime example as to why we should NOT be following President Bush in his policies at home and in the middle east. For 50 years, Israelis have answered their neighbors with bombs, bullets, and civil oppression. Nobody says Israel is totally to blame. We argue they chose the wrong path to resolution.
I have lived in Israel and meandered about that beautiful country. My eyes and heart were constantly filled with the wonder and amazement that is that part of the world. I walked down streets embedded with the footprints of thousands of years. I have partied in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and once swore an oath at Masada. Yea, though I have walked through the Valley of Armageddon. Israelis and Arabs and everybody and everything about the Middle East has a most intriguing impact upon you. You cannot help but be in awe of the people around you and what is must be like to go about your normal life in the same places where once walked Jesus, Solomon, and Mohammed.
But there is a dark and ugly side to the experience. Yes, bombings and shootings are atrocious and heart wrenching. ‘Reason’ is choked off by the anger and bile that rises up in your throat. There are no words to express the experience of seeing the carnage and knowing that you are a target for death just because of where you live and which God you follow. John Kerry may have seen Israel from the perspective of a fighter pilot. I have seen it when bombs have gone off. I have witnessed how this beautiful and passionate people who come from a history of horror and seek nothing but safety … and who are willing to die for it … live in a society of fear, angst, anger, and death. Security in Israel is their #1 priority. The numbers of weapons you find slung over shoulders everywhere is overwhelming. Today you see the same sights when you try and cross the border into the United States. For an American to have been in a country where every crumpled up piece of paper is presumed to be a bomb, I watched this outwardly peaceful people show a side I would have never expected. Their society is one of paranoia.
For more than 50 years, Israelis have met threat with force. They have isolated themselves internationally. Once the darlings of the world, they are now seen as the bullies and abusers. We know they are victims of targeted attacks. Our hearts break every time innocents are slaughtered for just being at a market. We understand their need and craving for safety and security so they can just get on with their lives. Once the darlings of Entebbe, Israel and her politics have been deemed to be above reproach, Messianic Christians have so declared. The Jews only suffer the backsplash. The nature of the conflict and the standard Israeli response has changed that society. They are a paranoid people who traded away most of their freedoms and civil rights to be protected. They are not protected and instead the situation has deteriorated. It is worse than ever. Today, being a Jew is synonymous with being an Israeli and Arab anger toward Israel is now directed at Jews. This is an intolerable situation.
The toll that has been paid is that the nation of Israel has lost its soul. It not a peace seeking nation. The present government has only two goals: Kill the ‘bad guy’ and isolate the nation. For fifty years, government after government has not been able to come up with any other solution than to build a real and metaphorical wall separating them from their neighbors. Though they are not solely to blame; it was Mr. Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount near the end of the Clinton Presidency that blew the lid off the entire region. President Clinton was close to bringing an end to this.
Since 9/11 and in the name thereof, here in the United States, I have had the chance to watch my country shift from a freedom loving and peaceful people, to a warrior people who live only with fear and darkness around them. Their government drills into their heads every day that the boogy man is out there. Good and honorable people have sided with those who seek blood and revenge. We are sealing our borders, building walls around ourselves, isolating ourselves from the world, and becoming more aggressive and violent. Sound familiar?
I wholeheartedly disagree with the Israeli government. If you want to know what our nation is going to look like in 30 yrs if we continue the path we are taking, take a hard look at Israel. We are already getting there. I am a Jew. I will not support the Israeli government. I will not support the reactionary right wing in this nation as they take us down the path toward destruction and evil.
Let us not become the very devil we seek to slay. Doing so shall be the end of the American dream.