Tzipi Hotovely (Image credit: Government Press Office of Israel)
I have always admired Tzipi Hotovely, Israel's current deputy foreign minister. She is bright, well spoken and outspoken.
She is also a fierce patriot and a woman of Jewish faith, with traditional Jewish values. I admire that too.
Clearly, there are many who do not share my admiration of her, for some or all of the very reasons that I specifically do. Her critics do not mind outspoken women in general - it is the latter set of qualities that so tick them off.
It is no coincidence that the same people who pounced upon her in the latest political tempest (in a teacup) also do not normally share those values. In short, the attacks were initiated by those on the other side of the political aisle.
Partisan politics is nothing new and not considered an evil in our world.
However, I like to say, "one may have one's own opinions but not their own facts."
Dishonesty too is nothing new in our world, but I believe it is the responsibility of honest people to challenge it. That is often not easy today. It is not always considered politically correct, a failing which can get one in hot water very quickly (I know because I have been scalded by those waters repeatedly in my job as an Israeli tour guide).
Ms. Hotovely made an observation about American Jewry today which may threaten her job (and will boost her standing with people like me). She was asked about the phenomenon of large sections of American Jewry empathizing less with Israel today, especially on college campuses.
She observed that Israel is an embattled people with a population that lives with the constant threat of annihilation and daily terror.
She suggested that the American Jewish experience is the opposite. Most American Jews do not opt for a military career and do not know the danger of being killed by an armed enemy (as a soldier or as a civilian), and so it is hard for them to put themselves into Israeli boots.
Growing up in America, I never met a Jewish soldier. None in my family has either. No one in my synagogue or any synagogue I have ever attended boasted a military member. Not in college, not on the parks where I played ball, the summer camps, nowhere. It was simply an oxymoron.
I visited a Baptist church in Texas a few years ago. In the front hall was a display of about a dozen members then serving in the military. That was a novel sight for me. I have never seen anything similar in any synagogue.
I don't know if this is a Jew/Gentile phenomenon. It might just be a socio-economic, Left/Right divide, but it certainly is not a figment of Ms. Hotovely's imagination.
The Anti-Jewish Jews
I would add that as the "great generation" of American-Jewish World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors leave us, appreciation for what it means to literally defend oneself is clearly dissipating.
It is a new world - a very new world in which love of one's country and traditions are facing relentless assault, especially on campuses where Jewish students stand helpless in the face of anti-semitic professors and timid, apologetic Jewish leaders who would rather invite a terrorist to speak than Ms. Hotovely.
Who is doing the assaulting on both sides of the Atlantic? If we are honest (I am not a deputy foreign minister yet, so I can be bold) the profile would probably look something like this: Those who are still repeating the mantra of "land for peace" with our terrorist neighbors. Those who likely can't stand the "settlers" who are ruining all chance of "peace" with our terrorist ("peace partners") neighbors. They are also probably not happy about "too much" Bible being taught in schools and visits to synagogues and Jewish holy sites.
One former Israeli minister of education, Shulamit Aloni, tried to censor the book of Joshua in Israeli schools because it was all about "conquering the land." She would have some sharp words for the likes of Ms. Hotovely today.
The assaulters might not be totally comfortable with Israel's “racist apartheid wall" that so arrogantly separates Arab bullets from Jewish hearts. They are surely amongst those who rolled out the red carpet and welcomed terrorist Yasser Arafat to our heartland - and are still proud of it.
They might be quite satisfied that that thousands of young Jewish girls marry Arabs in Israel (and must convert to Islam). Break down the artificial and racist barriers that separate us, they might say.
As former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's wife Leah reportedly said, " I would rather my grandchild marry an Arab than a settler."
They simply despise the organizations that try to prevent this growing intermarriage phenomenon. They see them as so backward, so anti-assimilation. Break down the barriers! Get off this Jewish thing already!
Their Bible in Israel is the extreme Left Haaretz newspaper, and in the US it is the anti-Israel New York Times.
They are for "sanctuary cities" in the US, and for allowing tens of thousands of Muslim/African infiltrators to remain in Israel and terrorize elderly Jews in poor neighborhoods like south Tel Aviv.
In the US their leadership presides over a Jewishly ignorant flock. In the dark ages, the Church had a monopoly over the masses because only they could read Latin, the language of the Bible, and so could sell people whatever they liked. Today, the Jewish leaders themselves often are as ignorant as the masses and do not need to worry about a monopoly of the language or the message of the Bible. Not many are interested enough to open the book.
Sadly, American Jewry is disappearing into a silent, self-imposed holocaust (over 70% intermarriage and growing), and it is not because of the values or opinions of Ms. Hotovely.
She was spot on when she observed that the controversy over the Western Wall is just a political one. Aside from the media event of women wearing tallit and tefillin once a month at the Wall that gets inordinate attention, who does one find there clinging to its stones 24/7 when the cameras are gone? We know who.
The Clock is Ticking
For those who still claim a Jewish identity in the US, there is an old "Achilles heel" - a potential sore spot.
The court Jews surrounding Franklin D. Roosevelt protected their heels by selling out Europe's Jews during the Holocaust. They would not rock their comfortable boat (Funny how these same people were willing to make lots of noise and be arrested for "civil rights" a decade later).
The same establishment ignored the plight of Soviet Jewry until a "radical" orthodox rabbi sat a year in jail, arrested for disturbing the peace and threatening US-Soviet relations. This disturbed the peace for the establishment, who were then embarrassed into some kind of action.
They let Jonathan Pollard rot in jail for 35 years as they sent letters of total condemnation and disassociation to the Gentiles. Their Israeli counterparts did the same.
Yes, the same profile for Ms. Hotovely's attackers exists on both sides of the Atlantic. It exists today, yesterday, and will continue to do so tomorrow. The likes of George Soros, Bernie Sanders, and Shulamit Aloni have some things in common - and it is not a burning Jewish identity.
It is indeed very sad to witness the rapid extinguishing of the American Jewish candle that seemed to burn brightly when I grew up there 40 years ago. It is, however, burning ever brighter in the homeland where people like Hotovely are gaining an ever-growing following.
When I was a boy in New York we were six million Jews in the US and two million in Israel. Today we are almost seven million in Israel and around five in the US. Time is running out for US Jewry.
American Jewry, it is time to think seriously of coming home. No exile ever lasted forever.
Shalom Pollack, veteran licensed tour guide, is the director of Shalom Pollack Tours: Personalized Tours in Israel.