Thursday, May 8, 2008

Loving Israel Like Children

Al Franken, political commentator and funny man, wrote in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them that the rightwing tends to love America like a child love his mommy. They don’t look at the flaws, they don’t accept the problems, they don’t engage on an adult level. They say you love or hate. There is no middle ground.

Not surprisingly, this mentality also holds true with much of the mainstream Jewish community when it comes to supporting Israel. There are those in the community who criticize, there are those who point out her flaws, and there are those who engage on an adult level. But when it comes to other taking a fair look at Israel, many revert to childlike tantrums about anti-Semitism.

We have leaders who are willing to point the finger at the IDF’s track record in the Territories, we have organization dedicated to helping minority groups in the State, we have individuals who spend money and time supporting civil society issues far outside the mainstream Israeli culture. But when we hear the non-Jewish media doing this we go ballistic.

This week the Jewish community remembers and celebrates 60 years of Jewish independence in Israel and people have their guard up high. Francine Klagsbrun writes in the Jewish Week, that she is sick of the “Yes, but” syndrome when she deals with people talking about Israel. This isn’t just a problem with Israel. I would challenge people to have a conversation about France in the same way. “I love French food,” says one traveler. Average Joe responds: “But the French are pompous asses.” Or what about this situation: “Dubai’s economy is truly blossoming,” says one business woman. Average Joe responds: “But they are taking away high paying jobs from this country.”

This isn’t an Israel problem; this is an American problem with superiority. We want to be the best at everything, but are not. It is childish and not worthy of a major concerted effort to combat this mentality. In the case of Israel’s so-called syndrome, perhaps next time we hear the “Yes, but” refrain we simply say, we are working on it, just like you do with a real adult relationship.

Yom Haztma-ut Tov.

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