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Friday, July 14, 2006

Mistimed Patriotism

On my trecks around the Jewish American blogosphere yesterday, I came upon many bloggers who had posted articles with the same theme: "As I was watching the news, not only was I terrified by what I saw, I was wishing that I was there, in Israel, with my fellow Jews." While this patriotism and feeling of unity in time of need is heart-warming and very much appreciated, it is also a bit hollow to my ears. I truly say that with no negative intentions in mind, and it is not meant to be insulting. I say it for a couple of reasons.

First of all, nobody wants to be in a danger zone. The people in Nahariya and 50+ communitues that have been shelled yesterday and left their homes and cities and towns and settlements to seek safer refuge are not being unpatriotic. Which is to say that I am NOT accusing any Americans' statements of having accused any such thing. What I am trying to say it is not patriotic to say that you want to be where danger is happening to show your support. My family is in the north right now, and the husband and I were supposed to go there for Shabbat. We are not going. There is no reason to go out of our way to put ourselves in any undue danger. Actually, the Torah forbids it. Saying you would love to be with the people that are going through this right now is very nice and a very safe statement to make from the comforts of New Jersey and Florida. I would be making this same statement had I heard the same thing from people after the World Trade Center Attacks. I lived in New York City at the time and was there for the attacks, and I would have also had a little issues with any-one from Nebraska telling me that they wish they were in New York to support me. Sorry, but no, you don't.

Second of all, it's very good and also very appreciated that there's a sense of solidarity during Israel's time of need, but it's also a bit sad. Israel doesn't just need your support and wishes that you were here during times of need. They need it during times of calm and success also. If You really wish you were here to support us, than you should also be wishing it when nothing's going on, and we're all going about our daily life. It would be nice to here the "I wish I was there" sentiments when the shekel reaches its strongest point in years, or when the stock market reaches all time highs, or when thousands of jobs are opening up all over the country, or when the new public transportation system is announced to be opening in Jerusalem, or when the express train from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and from Tel-Aviv to Be'ersheva is opened. When that's reported, I would love to here "I wish I was there to support and be a part of Israel's ever-growing economy. Israel's really moving successfully forward in the 21st century. There is absolutely no reason to stay in America and not move to Israel." It's statements like that that would really warm my heart. Israel doesn't really need or require sympathy in their time of need. We know we have the American Jewish community's support and sympathy in times of need. What we need is people. What we need is support in times of success. What we need are more posts of "I wish I was there" the next time there's a report that Intel is opening up a new R & D center in Hertzilya. It's all well and good and EASY to say "I wish I was there" when Israel is in crisis, and there's really no chance that you'll actually come. It's a lot HARDER to say "I wish I was there" when there's nothing but success going on, because then you really have to stop and ask yourself, "Why am I not moving there?"


At 4:01 PM, Blogger amechad said...


I agree with you 100% and have said things like this often. American Jews need to stop "supporting" Israel and start being a part of Israel (they also need to understand where, sometimes ... i.e. foreign aide ... their so-called support, while well intentioned, actually hurts Israel. This is also true when pressuring Israel to act in a certain way - either right or left - from abroad). I have more respect for the Kahanist in Israel than the person who shares my political views abroad. I have more respect for the post-Zionist woman in black in Israel than the person who shares my political views abroad. But I digress....

At 4:56 PM, Blogger amechad said...

I've further blogged about this post at: http://amechad.blogspot.com/2006/07/oc-mistimed-patriotism.html


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