I was grateful for the White House invitation to witness the historic opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Truth be told, I believe that every Jew in attendance was thinking of a father, a grandmother, a sibling wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust or any of the millions of Jews, who over two millennia were scattered to the four winds of exile—and on whose shoulders we stand today. For it was they, from Baghdad to Moscow, from New Delhi to New York, from Warsaw to Waukegan who down through the centuries--against all odds-- dared to dream that someday, somehow, their offspring would return home to Zion, to Jerusalem.
From abandonment to validation
For over 1,900 years Jews in exile lived with the bitter bile of abandonment, bereft of rights, subject to the whims of rulers, demonized by religious authorities and derided by neighbors for being different.
The ultimate abandonment came with the Nazi Holocaust in the 1940s with the destruction of European Jewry. In fact, it was the West’s abandonment of Jews in the 1930s that sealed their fate long before the Nazis mass-murdered 6 million of our people—one third of world Jewry.
So how was possible that less than three years after Auschwitz, that the Jewish nation was (re)born?
It was in large measure because of one man who bucked the advice of diplomats and pundits to support a Jewish state— President Harry S. Truman.
Watching the video in Jerusalem of President Donald Trump’s speech from the White House, I kept thinking about the similar challenges both presidents faced when it came to U.S. policy in The Holy Land.
Truman, who never expected to be the vice president in 1944, let alone could have imagined that he would soon be president of the United States, had zero experience in foreign policy.
Once he became president he would rely heavily on Secretary of State George Marshall, a World War II hero who would go on to win the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize for The Marshall Plan that rebuilt a Europe shattered by war.
Marshall was bitterly opposed to a Jewish state. He was more concerned about having an uninterrupted supply of Arab oil than a people devastated by war and was convinced that the Jews couldn't withstand an Arab military onslaught.
Marshall’s opposition was buttressed by virtually the entire State Department. At one point Marshall even threatened Truman that he would oppose the president’s reelection.
No matter, “Give ‘em Hell Harry” -- with a push from his Jewish buddy and partner Eddie Jacobson—decided to override the “experts” and actively support the Jewish people’s quest for freedom.
On November 29, 1947, he instructed the U.S. to vote for statehood at the United Nations. A few months later, Truman decided that the U.S. would be the first nation to recognize the State of Israel, just 11 minutes after David Ben-Gurion declared the Jewish State.
Through his actions Truman not only changed history, he validated a people who had been left for dead.
Today the Jewish state is alive-- a vibrant democracy and a font of ingenuity and creativity. But it is a nation still under siege—threatened by over 100,000 Hezbollah and Hamas missiles, terror tunnels and Iranian nuclear-tinged saber rattling.
Israel also faces a relentless asymmetrical war of demonization and delegitimization. From U.N. resolutions to church groups to academic assaults to global boycotts to social media campaigns, Zionists are denounced as racists and Israelis as Nazis, latter-day colonialists, interlopers and even “fake” Jews.
Enter Donald Trump. With the stroke of a pen, he validated 3,500 years of Jewish history by opening the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, debunking the global smear campaign against the Jewish State.
His decision will also have an impact on Christian-Jewish relations. My grandparents fled Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th Century primarily because of theologically-fueled hatred from Christian churches and clergy.
They would have been shocked to see the hundreds of Christian Zionists who sat shoulder to shoulder with American and Israeli Jews at the embassy opening on Monday. And they would have been amazed to learn it was American Christians, led by a few million Evangelicals, who consistently reminded President Trump about candidate Trump’s promise to do right by Israel.
Unlike his predecessors who never lived up to their campaign promises -- Trump just did. His place in history and in the annals of the people of Israel are secured forever.
The Article was published on Fox News
Diary March 18
Concerns about politics.
One of the prominent figures of the Jewish Netherlands, who is apparently occasionally
tormented by the disease called jealousy, approached me with the comment that he had
heard that I will be speaking next Sunday for the NIK on Zoom because of Pesach and
expressed the hope that I would not speak about anti-Semitism again and would not have
my message / lecture included with 'those Christians'.
Of course I don't have to justify myself and I can do whatever I want, but it bothered me
anyway. Because with "those Christians" professional recording equipment was available
and "those Christians" were willing to make a good recording completely free of charge, I
had made my NIK Hanukkah presentation with and by "those Christians".
Some years ago I had received a similar comment, from that same person, about "those
Christians." I needed to have less contact with them. I understand that setup. What I did not
fully understand, however, was that the same critic then went to "those Christians" to ask
for financial support for his, otherwise fine, projects.
Nothing new under the sun. I remember speaking to an eminent physician some time ago.
This ‘eminence’, he told me personally, was not so much down to his expertise in his field,
but as a much about his political qualities. No, he was not in politics, he was referring to
politics at the top of his university hospital. When I heard a little bit of that politics I
immediately thought of the rabbinic world! (Just kidding, because rabbis don't do politics!)
Because there is politics everywhere. Especially in the real and necessary democratic
politics: The elections!
I haven't been able to sleep all night. When I looked at the new composition of the House of
Representatives, I was overcome with concern. I hope and pray that I misjudge it
completely, but I fear it. Of course, there can be criticism of Israeli Politics, that does not
have to be a sign of anti-Semitism.
But if there is only talk about Israel and not a word is mentioned about the feudal
dictatorships of the countries around Israel, then I do not understand.
I understand and accept that one of our prominent mayors in a speech at #
MayorsAgainstAntisemtism # claims that criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, as well as
criticism of Rutte. But that's not the problem. Criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, 50% of
Israel criticizes him and that does not degrade them to anti-Semites.
The problem is that there is almost exclusively criticism of Israel. That Israel is by far at the
top of the list for UN Resolutions. The role of a mayor should be in trying to connect his
townspeople, and that does not happen by importing sensitive foreign conflicts. Do I think
this mayor is anti-Semitic? Absolutely not! Do I think this mayor should be allowed to
criticize Netanyahu? Sure! But what I regret is that criticism of Israel unfortunately and
often unintentionally leads to anti-Semitism.
How often am I not allowed to explain that I speak Dutch, although I am a Jew but not born
in Israel. The superficial one-sidedness in the experience, however nuanced a mayor may
present it, causes anti-Semitism here in our country. And so: if the mayor believes we
should keep the Middle East problem out of the city, then criticize Israel, Jordan, Yemen,
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, North Korea, China, on… and on…. But even better: let the mayor try to
bind the various population groups within the city limits and call them to develop activities
that unite together. And then, if connections and friendships have arisen, then, despite the
diversity, the friendship itself can look at bottlenecks and differences of opinion that
seemed unmentionable. Do you think that can succeed? Often not, but sometimes it does.
And sometimes I cherish that, because I have sometimes been able to experience this often!
And to the prominent Jewish Dutchman I would like to say: next week it is Pesach and Jews
all over the world read the Hagadah, which describes the Exodus from Egypt at that time.
And what do we read there about the present and now? "Because in every generation we
are rebelled against us to destroy us," literally. And then the text continues and says that
G-d will save us in the end. The Jewish people live and survive, but all kinds of things happen
along the way. We must know, prevent and combat that, but not deny it! I hope that the
new House of Representatives will want to fight that battle with us and will want to exercise
It’s a challenging time for Jewish communities in Europe. Anti-Semitism is on the rise as populism and the politics of the lowest common denominator are gaining traction. Our communities often need round the clock protection and our practices and customs such as keeping Kosher are under pressure from increasing political interference.
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