Dreaming Israel in America

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Two Israeli Vice Prime Ministers visited Los Angeles recently. Two very high-ranking Israeli officials, one was here to give a talk, the other as a guest of honor in an annual fundraising event.

The talk was free of charge and open to the public. There was a very noticeable police presence surrounding the School of Law at UCLA where Meridor was about to speak. Equally as noticeable, no anti-Israel demonstration was held outside the lecture hall or inside. What a pity, Meridor might have actually encountered the process of “Delegitimization” with which Israeli officials are infatuated.

A student stood to ask “why there cannot be peace?” and was followed by a Jewish professor who could not understand why Israel (not her enemies) could not find another way to protect her that would not hurt the perpetrators. Those of us in the audience who fight the Delegitimization of the Jewish people every hour of every day were about to burst out laughing.

The question came from a very respectable Jewish professor who heads an even more respectable Jewish organization. We were reminded of the saying: Your destroyers and your enemies will come from within.

Meridor answered immediately, shifting the blame to the one asking the question. He did not accuse him directly, rather he provided, very elegantly, a course of action, turning the question on its head: It is time that those firing from within civilian populations and hiding within be pronounced war criminals by the international community.

The Professor Rabbi was speechless. He accused Israel of wrongdoing, and in one short reply was reminded who the real perpetrators of terror are.

The other Vice Prime Minister arrived to Los Angeles primarily as the guest of honor of a Jewish organization. While here, he dedicated his time to an assortment of other events, from breakfast with “big money,” a fundraising dinner event for his party and various speaking engagements, which cost from ten dollars to one hundred and eighty dollars per person.

This was already one visible difference between the two politicians. A person who gets his salary from the Israeli taxpayer (as well as his car, phone calls, computer, driver, aides, office, protection, etc., etc., etc.) should possibly appear at events that do not cost money?

While Israeli law does not prohibit elected or appointed officials from participating in fundraising events, it is definitely time to stop the non-stop parade of schnorring. Raise the money for your party, or your party’s primaries, at home in Israel.

Another recent visitor to Los Angeles asked with wonder: Why should one pay to hear the truth? {Clarification for the Vice Prime Minister: You talk about “Delegitimization” all the time, which stems from no small extent because of Israel’s refusal to take a clear and coherent position. These visits could be used to tell the general public Israel’s “truth” thus filling the void of typical-no-response.}

There are so many top Israeli politicians that one easily gets confused. There are so many ministries and advisors and speakers that those at the helm forget at times to speak themselves. In essence, doing and leading seem to have become murky by politics (and in Israel by corruption at the highest levels).

Three of them blessed Los Angeles with their presence recently. I am often invited to attend the events for such dignitaries, but this time I flatly refused to participate in all but two: Meridor’s public speaking at my alma-mater and the other Vice Prime Minister’s at a Christian event.

For those who know me, I distance myself from driving, particularly long-distances. This time I ventured in high traffic on the Five freeway, to reach Anaheim at 5:30 P.M. Just get me to the church (The Rock) on time!

It was an evening “On the Front Line For Israel” hosted by the Israel Christian Nexus.

Anyone who has ever attended church services or an event by the Christian community would understand the feeling of traveling to a different world, one with a sense of purpose and being, where all human beings are part of a continuum that started with Genesis and will continue to the Coming of the Messiah.

We were greeted by those directing traffic and the greeters at the sign up table, all volunteers of the church welcoming us to their home. It was done with grace and a smile. We felt embraced on this very cold night.

There were many pastors present, as well as congregants too numerous to count. A sea of people was all around, facing the stage where the dignitaries and speakers were seated.

I was seated directly across the Vice Prime Minister, in the center front section reserved for the non-Christian guests, rabbis, leaders of Jewish organizations, dignitaries and others. Speaker after speaker rose and gave testament to God’s word, to His promise, His people and His everlasting covenant.

My attention was focused on the Vice Prime Minister. For me, attending such events held by the Christian base that supports Israel has always been a very special blessing, but for the guest, being ushered between one top hotel to another top restaurant, from one mansion to another suite of offices the likes of which we normally do not see, would he be too tired or simply unimpressed by the pouring of love and support to Israel?

One of the speakers mentioned Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, and as he said that, the place was hit as if by thunder. People stood up clapping and praising the Lord, saying “Amen!”

A smile slowly appeared on my face, growing, and could not be contained. The Vice Prime Minister thought he was dreaming and had to shake his head, rub his eyes to ensure he was witnessing what he thought he was seeing and hearing.

You see, had it been a Jewish occasion or celebration, people will not be standing up and cheering the idea that Jerusalem, united and undivided, is Israel’s eternal capital.

Immediately many would start murmuring that the city is de facto divided, that Palestinians-an entity that did not even exist until three decades ago and is now so rooted in the collective mindset-deserve to return to THEIR capital, that Jerusalem of Gold is not really ours, that construction there must be prohibited because it is an obstacle for peace in the Middle East.

Israelis would start debating forcefully, deliberating if Jerusalem theirs or not, some standing and shouting insults at the Vice Prime Minister, others rushing to sue him for war crimes and issue warrants for his arrest.

Jews would be debating too, also under a spell of life that is too good and too detached from their roots, from what defines them, from the promise “If I forget you Oh, Jerusalem,” and “For next year in Jerusalem.” Jews, it seems, often forget that when they pray they face east, toward Zion, Jerusalem, that this city and this country are their very essence.

We Jews needed to go to a Church to be reminded of our roots, to witness the force of belief and the power of prayer and unity. Yet it is the roots of Judaism that sprouted the very tree of Christianity.

It was like a dream, to slowly rotate 360 degrees, and look closely at every person now standing and cheering, believing in their whole being, without doubt, that Jerusalem and Israel belong to the Jews, to them and not anyone else, one nation where God, the Almighty, is said to dwell.

Ezekiel recites the word of the Almighty: “And My dwelling will be upon them, and I will be their God and they will be a nation to Me.” (37:27)

In Psalms 29:11 we are told: “God will give strength to His people; God will bless his nation with Peace.”

May we all say AMEN.

In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.