Israel vs America-Remember that Old "Loyalty" Question?

I never know what will turn into a new post for me; this time, I was blog surfing (when I should have been job-hunting) and I came across a blog I hadn't seen before. I read several posts, but one particular post especially intrigued me, as I happened to have experienced the same 'loyalty game' that the blogger did--when I was just a school girl.

I had been thinking about my connection to the State of Israel (actually, I'm almost always thinking about my connection to Israel) when I read that post.

Now, you must understand that I consider myself a patriotic American. I am proud of the flag. I grew up on the East Coast in a big city, always have had an affinity for the West, horses, rugged individualism and pioneering. I value democracy and have always excersized my right to vote. When I was little I used to play "cowboys and Indians" (but I did always want to play the Indian) and to top that off, my husband is a Vietnam veteran (and my younger son was about to join the Coast Guard, when his brother invited him to make Aliyah with him. He said yes.)

But for a Jew (at any rate, for this Jew) there is a connection to Israel that one cannot easily explain. It's more of a connection on several planes with several dimensions to it: there is the physical and the spiritual; but there is also a visceral connection which is an enigma.

My heart still skips a beat when I hear someone behind me, say, at a mall--speaking Hebrew.
When I see the Israeli flag flying or even pictured somewhere, perhaps over a building, a house, in a high apartment window, painted among other flags on a store wall, etc.--I feel something, a lump in my throat, a sharp adrenalin flow--an emotion I can't explain;

If I hear or sing the Israel national anthem, the Hatikvah ("the hope"), tears come to my eyes. There is no rational reason.

It's hard to verbalize. The only thing I can say is, I am connected to Israel from the core of my being. I am an American, true, and love this country too, but in a different way (the older I get, the more I understand that love can take many forms). America doesn't go as deep into my soul as does Israel.

When I read that post, I started thinking about that age old loyalty question (well, it's as old as from 1948, perhaps), the one I was confronted with in my youth:

If there were a war between America and Israel, on whose side would you fight?

I had just finished watching a video on children of the holocaust, and my answer to that question was forming in my head, as I began composing a comment for that post called "On the State of Israel," on the blog Tales of an Angry Jew.

And then I realized, that I, too, am an angry Jew, but for different reasons: the world has made it thus. Here is my modified comment from that post:

. . . I do agree with you about Israel. When I was in grade school (a very MO college-prep yeshiva high school)that hypothetical case went around; I contended (at the time) that you can't posit a case like that, where Israel and the U.S. are on opposite sides in a war, because both countries have the same democratic values of personal freedoms and a pioneering spirit.

If they are at war, it would mean that one or the other had changed in its morals, ethics and/or values and had become evil. In that manner, I never had to answer the question.

These days (I'm older and more cynical, perhaps) I look at it somewhat differently: for thousands of years we Jews have been persecuted and vilified, culminating in the Shoah, when the Nazis attempted to systematically exterminate us, while the world stood by and did nothing

Therefore, now that we Jews have our own country, with our (damn good I might add) army, G-d forbid, if there is a war between the U.S. and Israel--all other variables being equal--I will fight for Israel, with all its flaws.

There is no way in hell that I will allow my People to return to our previous state of persona-non-grata of the world. Period.


(please forgive my language.)

Comments

Joodah said…
I am proud to say I agree with your views :)

When a person falls in love, you can't convince them to fall out of it. There is a marriage between Israel and the Jews that can't be denied, but can be rejected.

I think thart some Jews have a love for Israel that can't be put aside, even if we live in America. I don't like the stigma that people have placed on it, but I'm pretty sure this makes us Zionists. It might even make me mizrachi, except I'm not religious :)

Other Jews are of the opinion that Israel is just another country like Ireland or Britain. It is a nice country on CNN that they have no spiritual connection with. I think it's sad. Where else can a Jew travel to Israel for FREE(The Birthright program) if you have never been to Israel on an oganized trip? why is it free? because Jews (even the rich unafiliated ones)know how important Israel is and they want other Jews to experience that special love that a people can have for their homeland.
DYS said…
I echo your sentiments, and hard as it is to imagine such a scenario actually happening, if it did, I would fight for Israel as well.

But let's imagine the possible scenario. Here are 2 possibilities:

1) Anti-semitism in the US, often disguised as anti-Israel feeling, continues to grow. Millions of economically disenfranchised and undereducated respond to a leader who runs for President who spouts antisemitism and blames the Jews for everything. A split country, disillusioned with the 2 major parties, give many of its votes to third party candidates and in a fluke, the anti-semitic candidate wins with a small plurality. The new President declares Israel the greatest danger to world security, accuses them of having weapons of mass destruction, accuses them of genocide against Palestinians, and attacks them on that basis.

2) The barrage of terrorism in Israel turns more and more deadly. A very right-wing government is sworn in and concludes that there is no other choise but to expel all Arabs, from both pre and post 1967 Israeli territories. The world turns against Israel for this action and the UN decides to militarily intervene. A President of the US who is alike in his views to Jimmy Carter's current ideas reluctantly joins the coalition against Israel.

In both situations I would fight for Israel. But in #1 I would have no doubts or guilt. In #2, I would have doubts and misgivings (but I would still fight for my country and my people.)
Lady-Light said…
Joodah: As you said, Israel, for a Jew (most Jews, that is), is more than ‘just another country,’ as you say. I remember in 1967 after Israel won the “Six-Day War” how Jews who never before expressed their connection or support of Israel, suddenly ‘came out of the closet’ in proud praise.
There is a kind of umbibical chord connecting us with the land; our ancient history and biblical covenant are tied into it.
DYS: The key to a hypothetical case such as that, is that one or the other country’s values would have changed, e.g. as in the example you gave, of America becoming like Germany was when Hitler rose to power. An economic downturn with a leader blaming a scapegoat and a mob mentality can lead to devastating things.
The 2nd scenario could also (G-d forbid) be possible, although there is a good chance America would stand with Israel in this case. I think the two together would be awesome.

Look, America allows dual citizenship with Israel (and other countries as well); it would be a difficult decision to make, on whose side to fight; after all, my husband didn’t run away to Canada or hide in Rabbinical school to escape Vietnam. Instead, he enlisted. We are loyal to the U.S., even though Jews went through a tough time in the early 20th century when they immigrated here because of discrimination and university “quotas.”
Many had to stop their observance of the Sabbath because they felt that they would be fired from their jobs.

But during WWII the U.S. had opportunities to bomb the rails to the concentration camps and save thousands of Jews but they did nothing. The plight of the Jews was not believed by then-president FDR or not taken seriously…until Pearl Harbor.

And then, we went into the war in ‘self-defense,’ not specifically to save the Jews.
Dave said…
The concentration camps didn't start the mass executions until 1942, after Pearl Harbor, and after the United States was in the war.

It is also worth noting that the United States decided to focus the war effort on Hitler and Germany, rather than on the Japanese who had attacked Pearl Harbor.
Anonymous said…
DATE OF THIS MISSIVE: 11/16/2008. I HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT LOTS OF WEB PAGES. THESE WOULD BE BASICALLY TWO: THE U.S. DEPT. OF VETERANS AFFAIRS IMMIGRATION POLICIES OF A VIETNAM VETERAN; U.S. BORN; IMMIGRATING TO ISRAEL; ALONG WITH A SPOUSE (WORKING NURSE IN HAWAII); AND ISRAELI IMMIGRATION POLICIES AND OTHER DETAILED ITEMS; COST OF LIVING, ETC. CAN YOU OWN A HOME? LEASE, RENT, HOLD DUAL CITIZENSHIP SO AS TO KEEP YOUR VA BENEFITS. CAN MY WIFE WORK AS A NURSE IN ISRAEL? WILL THE VA ALLOW ME TO KEEP ALL MY BENEFITS/ENTITLEMENTS AS A 100% DISABLED VETERAN AT AGE 61 AS OF THIS NOTE? WIFE IS FOUR YEARS YOUNGER. IS THERE ANY HELP FROM THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT. ANY VETERAN BREAKS, HEALTH CARE, WITH A BUFFET OF QUESTIONS. I WAS BORN IN THE MIDWEST (SOUTHERN MO.) WIFE BORN AND RAISED IN THE SOUTH. WE HAVE LIVED IN HAWAII OVER 30 YEARS. WE OWN OUR HOME AND LAND 3.3. ACRES WHICH IS ON THE BIG ISLAND AND BY THE STANDARDS OF THE ENTIRE STATE OF HAWAII; THAT UNTO ITSELF IS RARE IF YOU COMPARE US TO THE TOTAL HAWAII POPULATION AS OF THIS DATE: 11/16/2008 NOT TO MENTION THE YEARS BEFORE.

ANYONE WITH SERIOUS REPLIES; EMAIL ME: I WON'T CHECK BACK HERE AGAIN; THIS SITE IS A LONG SHOT.

EMAIL; ferrell@alohabroadband.com

ALOHA AND SEMPER FI!

Popular posts from this blog

A Beautiful Name for a Beautiful Soul

The Great Debate: Is it Itsy Bitsy, or Inky Dinky, of Spider Fame?

The End. Is there a Beginning...?