Timing is Everything

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles by the urging of the Israeli Consulate General in Los Angeles held a rally to support Israel. It was a week after the Turkish Flotilla of Terror against the Jewish State. Among the many speakers were representatives of J Street, the so-called “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” camp, and Americans for Peace Now.

When they spoke the public booed. Someone even shouted “Traitor!” That hurt the delicate feelings of the organizers on stage. Alas, the same afternoon, those “Jews for Peace” organized another demonstration in front of the Federal Building. You can imagine it was not even remotely for Israel.

What the organizers failed to see was the very noticeable absence of the Jewish community-at-large from among the attendees. The organizers were so pre-occupied with the message of unity they were willing to sacrifice principles on the altar of “Peace.” What is so obvious to all others, escaped them: Where were the masses?

On June 25th, Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted four years ago from within Israel proper and held alive – we hope – in Gaza, marked another year in captivity. His captors, democratically-elected Hamas, refuse to allow access even to the International Red Cross.

The Israeli government was last negotiating the release of 1,000 terrorists for Shalit. That was six months ago. Hamas decided not to answer and every so often continues to tease Israel. A debate is raging in Israel now, whether or not it is justified to release so many terrorists for one soldier. The equation of so many to one makes the price of the next abduction even more unsustainable.

Four years ago Israel went to war in Lebanon to bring home two soldiers kidnapped in a very similar daring manner by Hizbollah. Israel failed in the war and after releasing hundreds she got the two in body bags. The appetite of the animals has never been satiated nor will it ever be.

A month has passed since the Turkish Flotilla of Terror was stopped. Turkey has shown the world it has taken a very sharp turn away from a secular, modern Muslim country. Now they are well on the way to becoming a fanatic and dangerous Islamic state. Turkey has made it very clear there is no going back, severed bilateral military cooperation with Israel and is now on the brink of disallowing Israel use of its airspace.

Turkey is demanding an apology and reparations from Israel. In an attempt to mend the feelings between the two countries, a senior minister of the Israeli government flew to a secret meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister. The meeting was so secret the Israeli Foreign Minister learned about it from the press and is insulted just days before the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, DC.

Was Fuad, the Israeli emissary, successful in his mission? Of course he was not. It was his ego saying, “I know the Turks better than most,” and “I can tone everything down” that played a major role in Netanyahu’s decision to allow him to go. The Turks are adamant in their position. The Israelis seem never to learn.

It was a very inconvenient time for Israel this past month. Israel was condemned by one and all, but time is the ultimate healer. It is a month later and another emissary is on a speaking tour, a policy adviser to the Foreign Minister. “We need a unified message” he says, but stops short at defining the message. According to him, it was not the Foreign Ministry’s fault, the fiasco that ensued. It is always someone else’s fault.

His mission, too, is so secretive that everyone seems to know about it, but he refuses to highlight some of what he did over the past week in Los Angeles. “Why do you need to know,” he asks. In retrospect he is correct. If the speaking engagements were opened to the masses, these six hundred some thousand members of the Jewish community at large and three hundred some thousand Israelis who reside in the area, we would have witnessed for ourselves why Israel fails in Public Diplomacy.

We asked about the work slow-down by the Foreign Ministry. The guest-on-official-mission apparently has only heard about it from the news. So let us all educate ourselves from the very same source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs employees claim they are doing such a good, valuable work, that they deserve a raise. At the very least they demand equating their salaries and extensive benefits to those of other ministries.

Allow me to wonder out loud: Is this the right time to engage in a labor dispute? Besides, where does the Foreign Ministry get the idea that they are doing such a phenomenal job that they DESERVE higher wages?

As to the “why now?” It is all a question of timing. We are four weeks away from the Turkish Flotilla Terror, and for some, it is business as usual. Israel flunked, but the Ministry, as the Minister’s Policy Adviser stated so eloquently, is not responsible. Maybe he meant “Irresponsible?!” He pointed the finger at the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit, at the Prime Minister’s Office and at dozens of former politicians and military generals who were interviewed.

Interesting how things look differently from within and from afar. Was he talking about the Second War in Lebanon, when indeed this was the case? No, he was talking about four weeks ago. But we heard those who spoke. Since the Prime Minister was not in Israel during the first few hours, even the Head of Opposition who otherwise misses no opportunity to hit and undermine, was standing strong with Israel.

We should learn from our enemies. As the events were unfolding, a Jerusalem-based organization advised to the world: *The Occupation Must End Now! and asked: What are you doing to end the occupation?* J Street had decided to expand its operations to the West Coast, seeing what a fertile ground Los Angeles has become. Americans for Peace Now managed to take center stage at a pro-Israel rally advocating for Israel to do even more for peace. Jews for Peace convened to hear from a member of the Flotilla, study another two chapters of the Goldstone Report and consider further action to boycott, sanction and divest from the Jewish State.

Others are not playing these childish games. Iran has reportedly supplied an advanced radar system to Syria, Hizbollah is at war-readiness and Hamas continues teasing Israel with the fate of an individual soldier abducted and held in the tunnels. Turkey’s strong fist is hitting Israel in soft places, and Israel is still engaged in excuses.

The visit of the Policy Adviser was a stark reminder that if Israel is to survive, we must continue to defend her. Those entrusted with the mission are otherwise busy with perks and the blame game. Neither of these will protect the Jewish State from its formidable enemies.

This point-and often-counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

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.