It is unfortunate that members of the New Israel Fund and J Street do not understand why so many Israelis and American-Jewish supporters of Israel find much of the work by their organizations unacceptable. Rabbi Ayelet Cohen seems to believe that because she speaks “out of deep love for Israel and concern and hope for its future as a democratic Jewish state” she is permitted to openly criticize its government and actions (Opinion, “Fighting for a better Israel is an act of love, not betrayal,” Dec. 12).
I don’t deny Cohen’s passion and good intentions, and I don’t believe her opponents have the right to react with threats. But there is a material problem with the J Street and New Israel Fund approach which fails to sufficiently take into consideration the intent of the enemies of Israel. The modern State of Israel came into existence after 2,000 years of Jewish suffering and murder throughout the world. The success of the Zionist effort cost many lives and has only been in existence for a short amount of time. Our enemies intend to destroy the State of Israel and kill and expel most of the Jews living there. These enemies are numerous and include people with powerful friends and countries; they are led by entities like Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, ISIS, and Islamic Jihad. But they also include elements of moderate Palestinian and Muslim organizations and states. They have a lot of patience and they are very willing to use every means possible to move even slightly toward their ultimate goal.
Israeli society is diverse and debates on where the country should go and how it should handle its problems are passionate. Everyone is welcome to express opinions. American Jews who care about Israel naturally want to speak up and push the country toward what each of us believes would be best for the country. There are many ways to do so which are not dangerous to Israel — contact a member of Knesset, write to Israeli newspapers, go to Israel, and speak to Israelis.
When organizations like J Street and New Israel Fund express their criticism of Israel from outside Israeli society and join international efforts designed to harm Israel, like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, they become instruments of the worst enemies of our Zionist experiment. Despite the organizations’ good intentions, they are becoming tools of a long, patient plan to destroy Israel.
Israel may be powerful today, but modern weaponry in the hands of our enemies can be extremely destructive. We don’t have the luxury of playing games with potential enemies. There are plenty of opportunities for Palestinians to gain results without joining those who seek destructive means.
Therefore, American Jews like me oppose the efforts of J Street and New Israel Fund even when we understand those organizations mean well.