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Obama interferes in Israeli elections. Does he also use taxpayer money to pay for it?

Israel is under attack again, but this year it’s worse. And Americans must remember that their war is our war.

Riots broke out this weekend in the streets of Jerusalem, as they have broken out almost every year for the last ten or so years. One Arab teen-ager, while throwing rocks, took a bullet and later died. The Jerusalem Police still don’t know who shot him.

Last week your editor published this translation of a nine-year-old essay from an Israeli, who wrote to a French audience on what daily life had come to mean, and what it still means. Now it’s time to tell what those scenes look like from here.

Your editor read the story of ancient Israel in the Bible when he was a boy. Your editor was nine years old when his father said to him, “Boy, those Israelis, they’re giving those Arabs a fit!” That “fit” was the Six-Day War. Then we all crowded around our TVs and saw pictures of Arabs burning our embassies. Your editor would learn later that this happened because Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser said that American and British planes had wiped out his air force on the ground when the war started. That was a lie. But some Arabs have preferred to believe it ever since.

The Arabs have also been trying to roll back history. They’re still doing it; the “prime minister” of the Hamas “government” in Gaza said this over the weekend:

I want to hear the numbers 1-9-6-7 from Netanyahu. Until we…hear that, we’re not going to waste our time.

Except that he said it at a demonstration commiserating over an event in 1-9-4-8, not 1-9-6-7. His real problem is the same as always: he does not want Israel to exist.

Enough of this. In plain English, here is the reply of one American who has watched the Middle East since he was a pup, and knows which side he is on.

What does it mean to be an American friend of Israel?

Damascus Road from Israel

View from the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, looking toward Damascus.

You turn on the news, and do a double-take, because for a minute there you think you are watching a remake of Cast a Giant Shadow, on a station that carries news, not movies. Then you get it: this is no movie; this is real. Riots and shooting are breaking out in Jerusalem, and rag-tag battalions and rump regiments try to crash the borders with Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria. Syria??? You remember that, a month and a half ago, you were right there, and stood on the bluff overlooking the Damascus Road! Unbelievable! And Jerusalem? Your tour guide lives there! You hope that the violence didn’t affect her, you search Google News for her name, and find nothing in the news. Whew! Then you hold up your thumb and forefinger of your right hand, about an inch apart, and tell yourself, “I missed a big scoop—or maybe dodged a bullet—by that much.” And then you read this, from our embassy in Tel Aviv—and right away you say, “That embassy ought to be in Jerusalem. Why isn’t it?” But of course you know why.

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What does it mean to be an American friend of Israel?

You pick up your Bible and turn to Nehemiah chapter 4, and especially verses 17 and 18:

Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me.

And you say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” You call the tour organizer to see whether he has heard anything that you haven’t, and your own pastor just to say that you know how blessed you are. (You’d like to call your old tour guide, but you wouldn’t know how to reach her.) You go to the mall, you think for a moment about the threat by “home-grown terrorists” to set off a bomb at some mall somewhere, and then you remember that the people of Israel have lived with that kind of threat almost since their founding. You ask yourself, “Where do I go to sign up?” but of course you’re not ready to sign up even to join the United States Army, much less any foreign auxiliary of the Israel Defense Forces. (Then you remember that there’s a law against the latter. It’s called the Neutrality Act.)

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What does it mean to be an American friend of Israel?

Members of the Israel Defense Forces on the Golan Heights

Two Tzahal (Israel Defense Force) soldiers walk casually on the Golan Heights.

You ask out loud, “Why do those people take this!?” as if they could hear you. You want to cry out, “Send some troops and take Gaza right back!,” and then remember that they gave it up because our own government wouldn’t let them keep it. You realize that all that aid our government gives that country comes with the kinds of strings that we never pull with any other country. (Like the time when they tried to develop their own equal to the F-16, but our State Department said no.) When you think of that, after a few seconds, then you know what shame is. You think about the few Jewish friends that you have, and wonder what you can say to them. You remember how well the Israelis received you, while you were over there, and wonder, “How do they do it? Why aren’t they bitter?” You remember walking down two streets in Jerusalem named after American Presidents (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln), and are grateful that they kept those names. You also wonder why Israel votes with us in the UN nine votes out of ten. Iraq gets a lot more foreign aid than they do these days, and they won’t vote with us even half the time!

What does it mean to be an American friend of Israel?

You know perfectly well that traffic accidents aren’t what’s killing more Israelis all the time. You read the descriptions of the “Arab Spring,” and remember that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has openly said that, first chance they get, they’re going to break the Camp David Treaty with Israel and start another war. Then you read things like this (a 92-year-old “Palestinian” woman brags about having been part of a massacre of Jews in Hebron in 1948) and this (a Hamas cleric finally says how they really feel about the Jews), and you say, “Tell me again who wants peace, and who doesn’t!”

What does it mean to be an American friend of Israel?

Israel is behind you!

T-shirts on sale on the Golan Heights: America, don't worry: Israel is behind you!

You think, with a sinking feeling in your gut, that your country won’t be in any shape to help anybody pretty soon. You stand in your family room, a glass of water in your hand, and say, “God, what’s next?” And then you look toward the east, toward a land that you know is the front line in the war of civilization. You remember the T-shirts that they sold at a trading post in the Golan Heights, T-shirts bearing this slogan: “America, don’t worry. Israel is behind you.” You raise your glass in salute, and say another silent prayer on their behalf: “Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.”

That’s what it means to be an American friend of Israel.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

Israel-firsters have a lot to answer for to the people of the US

John

You make it sound like Israelis are the only oppressed people on the planet, when Israel oppresses the hell out of the Palestinians, essentially imposing a state of apartheid in the region.

Israel receives something like 1/3 of all U.S. Foreign Aid, more than any other nation in the world, despite the fact that Israel is not a developing nation and only spends the money on weapons and putting Palestinians on the street.

American support for Israel is a large reason why Al-Qaeda exists in the first place. Standing with Israel only drags these wars on longer, since Israel clearly doesn’t care for peace, and why would they? We allow them to keep taking more and more land, all while portraying every single Israeli as some sort of concentration camp survivor.

Standing with Israel over Palestine is like standing with China over Tibet. China already dresses the occupation of Tibet in the Chinese media the same way that the Zionists spout the same propaganda on American “news” outlets. Best yet, the PRC and the Zionists are probably equal in how well they control the message, and keep the occupations going.

The special relationship with Israel is probably one of the biggest continuing mistakes and failures in the history of United States foreign policy. In grand total, it will have cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives.

Alex

Could you clarify in a concrete manner how Israel is the frontline of an American war? In what ways does Israel help us? And in what ways could they help us in a future war? I can’t think of any potential war where Israel would directly aid US operations in a significant way. I suppose they are in conflict with “terrorist” groups, but aren’t Russia and China as well? Doesn’t that logically mean Russia and China are also allies in a war for civilization?

Oh and you do not decide the legality of occupied territories, international law does. The right of conquest does not exist anymore for obvious reasons.

Alex

Uh, that answer is not exactly concrete. And once again by that logic, we should be praising Russia as an equal partner in the “war for civilization”, since wouldn’t an extremist-ruled Chechnya also presage a total Muslim take-over of the West? I also find it hard to believe that the Muslims, who are broken into so many competing factions on racial, religious, political, class, and regional levels, could unite and wage a total war against the West. They are far more likely to fight each other, as they have for the past 1250 years or so.

I think you have a very unclear view of the geopolitical situation in the Mid-East and like to simplify things by breaking down complex problems into binary opposing camps.

Alex

I am no proponent of the current Russian state structure, but they are not exactly an enemy to the US. They have their own interests, and we have ours, but there is no underlying reason for enough animosity to call Russians enemies. That aside, you should better clarify why Israel is so much more deserving of our help and support than Russia, especially given the fact that many of the recent Israeli immigrants came from….Russia.

Regarding your prediction of impending Muslim unity, I wonder if you have thought out the complexities involved in such an impossible historical event. As an empirical example of the difficulties of Muslim unity one only needs to look at the brief history of the United Arab Republic (UAR). Despite the unrivaled popularity of Nasser in the Arab streets, his attempt to unite just Syria and Egypt was a complete failure. Nasser himself did not want to go through with the unification because he knew it would fail, but was pressured to by the Syrians who saw him as the only way out of their political stalemate. Though the Syrian people as a whole supported Nasser through most of the period (1958-1961), the upper classes, Syrian army officers, and political establishment eventually drove Nasser out. The simple reason is that their interests could not be effectively protected and supported in the new system.

As a side note, this was also a time when the West looked weak, given the recent Suez debacle.

Now the story of the political and economic union of the UAR is more complicated than that, but the basic lesson is that any larger type of unification you have nightmares about would be completely impossible given the hugely greater number of interests that would have to be taken into account, as well as the problems of satisfying Sunnis and Shias, Arabs, Berbers, and Persians, etc.

I am tired of these predictions that have no basis in history, in our theoretical knowledge of how power is enforced, distributed, and used for conflicting purposes, and in the facts on the ground. Just because a few naive idiots in Al-Qaeda talk of a Caliphate does not mean that it can happen. Once again, I would like to know concrete ways in which this amorphous threat you speak of could take form.

Lucila Centeno

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Aaron

You forgot to mention the part where being a friend of Israel means that we ignore it when they try to sink US Navy ships.

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