It was the summer of 1972 when I came to Israel for the first time. It seemed that everywhere I went Israelis asked who I’d be voting for in the upcoming presidential election. All of them told me I should vote for Nixon since he was a true friend to the Jewish state. My reply was always the same. I need to vote for someone who will be good for America. If it’s not good for America in the end it won’t be good for Israel.
Looking back I think that was a very wise statement for a nineteen-year-old. Sadly, I wasn’t wise enough to request an absentee ballot for that special Tuesday in November. I was registered to vote in Kansas, going to university in Arizona, and managed to blow my opportunity to participate in the first election since eighteen-year-olds got the vote.
I still wonder if I would have voted then for McGovern like most Jews or for the Republican candidate as the Israelis wanted. Even back then I knew that FDR, the four-term Democratic president, hadn’t been a friend to the Jews. With his closed-door policy to the refugees from Hitler and refusal to bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz many historians hold him partly culpable for the destruction of European Jewry. On the other hand, I’d been raised to almost revere the democratic Give-Them-Hell-Harry who, among other things, immediately recognized the Jewish state in 1948.
Recently a freshman, Democrat in the House of Representatives has captured my attention. Looking at her website I saw she supports some of the causes I hold dear such as measles prevention, having a guidance counsellor in every school, and eliminating the statute of limitations for sex offenders. What her website doesn’t revel is the anti-Israel and pro-BDK sentiments of Ilhan Omar.
Knowing those sentiments is what has me concerned about Ms. Omar’s appointment to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I’m puzzled that I’m not hearing more concern from the American Jewish community. Are they afraid to speak out? Have they become apathetic? Or perhaps I’m looking at the wrong news sources.
When I was in Israel forty-six years ago most Israelis thought their safety depended on America’s support. And for more than forty-six years Israel has had that support. Will things stay good in America and therefore good for Israel? Is Ilhan Omar a representative of a small group or is she a precursor of the future lawmakers in America? Only time will tell.
Whether America’s attitude to Israel changes for the better or the worse, it seems to me that Ilhan Omar’s rhetoric is a wake-up call for Israelis. We should not be looking to the president or the congress, no matter if they’re Republican or Democrat, for our protection. It’s time for us to understand we need to stand on our own and turn to our Father in Heaven. True support comes only from Him.
My novel, Growing With My Cousin, a good winter read, is available at Jewish bookstores and on line at http://www.feldheim.com/growing-with-my-cousin.html or