The last time American Jews took to the streets in significant numbers to make the case for Israel’s right to defend itself, during Israel’s war with Hamas in early 2009, rockets were raining down on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.
This time it’s a public relations war rather than a military one that has sent American Jews into the streets warning that a campaign is under way to wipe Israel off the map.
In indignant statements to the media, in Op-Eds and at rallies around the country, American Jews jumping to Israel’s defense are casting the fallout to last week’s flotilla incident -- and the mounting opposition to Israel’s blockade of Gaza -- as part of a campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend itself.
“Why did Israel even have to resort to blockade?" syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote. "Because blockade is Israel's fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself -- forward and active defense.”
“If none of these is permissible, what's left?” Krauthammer asked rhetorically. “Nothing,” he answered. “The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide.”
As with the Gaza war, and the Lebanon war of 2006, Israel’s defenders see in the global assault on Israel’s enforcement of the blockade of Hamas-run Gaza -- a territory controlled by an organization committed to Israel’s destruction -- nothing less than a threat to Israel’s existence.
“Once again, my friends, Israel is under siege,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, declared at a pro-Israel rally Sunday in Los Angeles opposite the local Israeli consulate.
Some 3,000 people showed up for the demonstration, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The international outcry against Israel is an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state, Israeli Consul Jacob Dayan warned the crowd.
“Enough of the campaign of lies spread by the defenders of terror,” Dayan said. “Those on the flotilla were not peace activists.”[...]
Many Jewish groups said the worldwide reaction to the flotilla incident smacked of hypocrisy.
“Why did we not hear the same voices of condemnation raised as thousands of rockets poured down on Israel or on behalf of Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas more than four years ago and held incommunicado ever since?” the main Jewish umbrella group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, asked in a statement.
The Jews countered with rallies of their own in communities across the country.[...]
In Philadelphia, Steve Feldman, director of the greater Philadelphia district of the ZOA, summed up the approach he expected of supporters of Israel.
“I would not be satisfied,” he said, “until every Jewish person in the Philadelphia area, every person of good conscious in the area, everybody who knows right from wrong in the area, will be out supporting Israel, because Israel is in the right.”