I just hung up the phone from my little sister, who is 80.
Our Sunday conversations are pretty routine by now. I ask her if she went to the demonstration in Herzliya last night. She answers in the affirmative. I ask her if there’s any diminution in the crowd size. She answers no. It is palpably larger each week. Then she rages at the government, and I share her fury, knowing that other family members are out there demonstrating in Jerusalem with the same anger and frustration.
I reminisce with her. She arrived in Israel in 1967, blown in by the winds of a successful and monumental event known as the Six Day War. This was the war where Israel was victorious in a brief and brilliant series of battles, changing the footprint of the country in a mere six days.
Those six days enhanced the nation’s landscape and inspired immigration from the corners of the Earth. My sister came from that familiar corner of the Earth that includes New Jersey and New York. She went on a one-way ticket, knowing practically no one in the country and without a job. She was a single 25-year-old college graduate, with idealism as her calling card. She came with faith in the little country’s talent to absorb her and make her a symbol of its greatness. And now, more than 55 years after she was moved to make aliyah, she has raised a family with great honor and determination. She also has brought her own spirited ahavat Yisrael, love of Israel, to my branch of the family, including our parents and our children and grandchildren. Even our very young great-grandchildren are already connected to the land. And I proudly proclaim that two of our grandchildren are among the forces of the IDF, one chayal on active duty and one on reserve duty. Of course my husband and I are proud beyond words!
My sister’s husband, Zeev, whom she met in Israel and who lies at peace in the Old Herzliya Cemetery these past 10 years, began his military career in the war of 1948, the War for Independence, as an 18-year-old new arrival from Romania, via a refugee camp in Cyprus. He fought for Israel in every war until victory in 1973, when his strength no longer could sustain him. He was a hero until the end, father to a family of chayalim, and grandfather to children growing like beautiful weeds, soon ready to undertake their own admission and obligations to the Motherland.
In other words, we are a family that is honored and privileged to be part of Israel’s ongoing challenges, and blessed to be able to do what is necessary so that the country continues its majestic and dramatic and powerful growth. Am Yisrael chai.
All these years of a love affair with Israel did not prepare me for the words I will now write.
To be totally honest, my pledge always had been to keep what happened in the so-called family, our relationship with Israel, supportive and non-critical. Sadly, however, that can no longer be the case. But I must make it totally clear: What is being criticized is the newly elected government of Israel, not the State itself, not the IDF, not the citizens. My animosity is restricted to the government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabal of hate-mongers who are attempting to destroy the country, in order to avoid his indictment and possible prison sentence. The leader of the land I so love cannot be a criminal. Sadly, he is!
He is judged by the chayalim of the Entebbe raid, an attack that cost his own brother, Yoni, his very life. Now, all these years after the 1976 raid, they are speaking out in harsh criticism of the prime minister.
They are joined by many, many reservists.
They were joined by El Al pilots, all of whom refused to fly the PM and his wife to Rome until El Al dramatically forced a crew to navigate the flight.
They are joined by idealists too many to number in every great city in the nation, from the north to the south, from the east to the west, the elderly, the young, the middle-aged.
They are joined by Israeli politicians of every stripe.
They are joined by hundreds of American rabbis, from every movement.
They are joined by almost every American Israel-supporting organization, including the large and powerful Jewish federations.
They are joined by American Jewish leaders from left to right.
It is incumbent on all of us, in Israel and in America, to stand up to support Israel, which needs us now as never before. Democracy must reign in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Herzliya and throughout the land. We cannot support a government, a legacy of the disgraced Meir Kahane, a legacy of the disgraced Baruch Goldstein, to choke us in their pursuit of power.
It is my prayer that when you read this, that Smotrich and Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu and Deri and all the other allies in this attempt to wipe out Israeli democracy will have returned to their homes, wherever they may be, making peace with themselves for their evil deeds. Ken yehi ratzon!
I am a citizen of two countries. When antisemites speak about Jews with dual loyalties, I am proud that they speak of me. I am loyal to two countries. That’s an honor and a privilege.
Maybe I should stop reading. Or stop watching TV. And turn off the radio as well. And why not also cease and desist from chatting with friends and family? The political news is so very grim that I simply cannot really believe it. Don’t we learn from history? Don’t we know that dictators lie, and that lies are easy for dictators who are so deeply in love with themselves that the rest of the world be damned?
Just look at the choices that have been made and the choices that are yet to be made. Tremble! Be afraid. Be terrified. Wonder how it can be? How can we here in the USA even possibly anticipate another Trump presidency? The timidity of the Justice Department is astonishing. Indict this evil man, for God’s sake! He’s guilty of heinous crimes. We all know it. We all heard the phone conversation in Georgia. We all heard the phone conversation with Zelensky. We heard the spurring to the Capitol on January 6. The evidence is overwhelming, beyond any doubt, and the evidence is endless. Compelling. The only truth we will ever see about this desperate man who has no principles, no honor, no morals, but whose ego is outsized, disproportionate to his intellect and ability, is in front of us. Cursing our country with another Trump presidency would be historically unbelievable. Yet it remains well within the realm of the possible. Even probable. Truly a sign of the lunatics running the asylum.
America, I urge you, I beg you, my fellow Jewish Americans, please do not believe the words of a liar, the words of a criminal. Please dump Trump! May I say it again: Please Dump Trump!
It is incredible and tragic that both countries, homes to so many of our people, should be confronted with two despots in the same era. America has never shown such horrendous lack of judgment in its history. Never. Certainly Trump was the historically very worst president ever.
And Bibi is of the same ilk. No Israeli prime minister has ever been so dishonest, so power-hungry, and so willing to compromise the entire nation for his own self-aggrandizement, and never let us forget, to avoid jail for criminal acts.
It’s time for us all to open our eyes and awaken from the nightmare!
Rosanne Skopp of West Orange is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. She is a lifelong blogger, writing blogs before anyone knew what a blog was!