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Telling Israel What She Should Do

May 9, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

Israel is not and should not be independent of Jews throughout the rest of the world.

The relationship of the Jews in America with the Jews in the Land of Israel is a deep and complicated one. Since we are all one people, the State of Israel cannot act with complete independence. Their words and deeds have implications for Jews throughout the world. As an example, one -- of many -- concerns about Israel destroying Iran's nuclear capabilities is the dangerous impact it would have on the remaining Jews of Iran.

Likewise the words and actions of the Jewish community in America and Europe affect our brothers and sisters in the Land of Israel.

Secondly, between U.S. government aid (secured by AIPAC and other Jewish political involvement) and private contributions, Israel receives billions of dollars per year from abroad. There are few, if any, non-profit organizations whose donors are wiling to give so much money yet relinquish all say in its allocation or in the strategic planning of the organization.

So however the politicians may pontificate, Israel is not and should not be independent of Jews throughout the rest of the world.

On the other hand, what exactly is that role? What is the appropriate attitude? From lives of comfort and luxury in secluded and excusive enclaves throughout America, is it appropriate to dictate policy to the Israeli government?

"War hath no fury like a non-combatant." C.E. Montague, 1922, Disenchantment.

If the State of Israel is about to enact a law ("Who is a Jew?" perhaps) that could potentially shatter the Jewish community in America or permanently alienate them from their Israeli counterparts, we need to speak up.

But when it comes to war, we need to keep quiet and just pray. If our children are not fighting, if our sons and daughters' lives are not at stake, then who are we to advise others?

This is not a question of correct military strategy which the experts can debate, but of the role of American and European Jewry.

Heavy decisions with serious and long-lasting implications -- to keep or give up land, to negotiate with or ignore the Palestinians, to build a fence or encourage free commerce and so on -- must be made by those whose sons and daughters are dying to defend the land.

You can't sit in an elegant kosher restaurant in Los Angeles or New York and impassionedly send someone else's children to die. Or be outraged by government policies when you haven't made the choice to live in the Land of Israel and intimately share in the struggle.

Every time I hear these debates from my loud-mouthed fellow countrymen I get so angry (my husband drags me out of the room so I don't get our names permanently removed from all social calendars!).

In Israel, terror threats are a daily concern, the tragic death of soldiers is not an irregular occurrence and they are frequently teetering on the brink of war. Fateful elections lie ahead and the right decision isn't easy. But one thing we must accept. Since it is the lives of the Jews of Israel at stake, it is only their representatives that can makes these difficult, complicated and frequently heart-wrenching decisions. Our job is to pray they choose wisely.


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