Friday, February 18, 2011

Who Am I and Why Am I Doing This?

The very idea of blogging seems very odd to me because it presupposes that people care about what I have to say. In most cases, I am completely comfortable with people simply ignoring what I have to say and moving on. The one thing in my life I really do feel I need to speak out about is the State of Israel.

Why is this, one might ask? I have never lived in Israel, I've visited the place only a handful of times and I don't speak a word of Hebrew. I am a Jew, but not religious. I was, however, born in a land where being a Jew was a sin, where being a Jew meant disenfranchisement and where being a Jew meant you had no power. Hearing stories of my family's lives in Ukraine made me appreciate how lucky I was to have moved here when I was 4 and not had to suffer the antisemitism that is so rampant in Ukraine and Russia even today.

But then, my family moved to the U.S., so why I do I care about Israel? For full disclosure, half of my family lives there. And while I do not live there and probably never will, I feel a kinship with that nation because of what it represents: a nation run by Jews for Jews. The history of Judaism is replete with moments of great sorrow, all of which have one thing in common: we had no control of our destiny. We were diaspora, spread out amongst the nations, subject to the whims of the local king, president or whoever. Some nations welcomed us, others expelled us. Even when treated well, we always survived by the grace of another, never truly able to make our own way.

Until 1948. Until Israel. In that year, we became the masters of our destiny and Jews from all over the world could come to Israel and be governed by their own kind. But of course, as with most things in Jewish history, things did not come easily. Even after the 1948 War of Independence, Israel's history is marked by conflict. 1956, The Sinai Campaign. 1967 - The Six Day War. 1973 - The Yom Kippur War. 1982 - Lebanon - Act I. 2006 - Lebanon - Act II. 2009 - Gaza.

Sprinkled between these major conflicts are innumerable small scale military engagements and acts of terrorism targeting Jewish targets both in Israel and abroad. But, if the military aspect was the only issue, Israel's fate would have been easily decided by their superior military and their logistical acumen.

Yet today, Israel's greatest enemy is not Arabs or even the Iranians. Israel's greatest enemy is ignorance, and the way in which Israel has halfheartedly entered the media battlefield is shocking considering its daring entrances into the military theaters of Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. All of this brings me back to the core issue: Israel is at war with a world that is ignorant of the circumstances of its existence and its fight. We who know of Israel's battles must ourselves fight for the nation with our words by advocating and not backing down from the anti-Israel rhetoric that too often goes unchallenged.

Which brings this back to me. I have been advocating for Israel in my own life ever since a former employer gave me a copy of Benjamin Netanyahu's "Israel: A Place Among Nations." However, I take my name and my inspiration from a man born in my hometown of Odessa: Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky. Through this, I hope friends and even opponents of my views will find a place to discuss Israel, its place in the world, its neighbors, and its future.

Jabotinsky Jr.