Sunday, June 6, 2010

Feeling Quite Alone following the Flotilla. Where was Everybody?

Following the disturbing events on the boat "flotilla" last week, I've been feeling quite alone - not personally, but nationally. I really have to wonder: where is everyone? And I'm not sure that I like the answer.
Everyone watched the videos; everyone saw the protests in countries (mostly Arab) around the world - and even in the United States. But what no one saw was any counter protest. The Israeli press - both on Arutz Sheva and even the Jerusalem Post, carried the video of the lone young man waving an Israeli flag in the face of an pro-Palestinian protest. That kid's got guts - that's for sure. But I wonder something different: why was he alone? Where was everyone else? (As of today, the video's been watched by half a million people - a testament to the power of even one person in today's internet connected world!)
Listening to liberal pundits on my podcasts recently (see here and here), it has become increasingly clear that liberal Jews are uncomfortable with the notion of Jewish power. Israel was great when it was a plucky little state, fighting for its existence. But as soon as Israel asserts its right to exist, and demonstrates a willingness to bring the fight to the enemy instead of waiting for its citizens to be slaughtered like cattle, everyone gets a little jittery. Hey wait - that's not the Jewish state that I know?
I got an email from a major Jewish organization last week (right after the flotilla incident) with the subject line: "Secure your institution", cautioning community leaders vigilance in making sure that their buildings, staff, etc. are safe. It seems that there hadn't really been any threats at all made against any Jewish institutions, but nonetheless Jews were warned to be "vigilant."
I'm all for vigilance; it's clearly important to be aware of what's going on around you. But I find it fascinating that when something happens related to Israel, Jews immediately feel threatened, but don't feel the need to take positive action.
Where were the pro-Israel protests? Why didn't more Americans speak out?
I wrote back to the email sender, that perhaps instead of hunkering down, she should be organizing a counter-protest. She responded politely, but clearly making public statements in support of Israel was a no-go. Why? I can think of two reasons:
  1. American Jews really are queasy about Israeli displays of power, no matter how justified they may be. They buy into the liberal mindset that the weak must always be in the right, and he who suffers on TV must necessarily be on the side of morality and justice. They didn't put together a protest, because they weren't sure that anyone would come.
  2. The sha-shtill mentality still reigns supreme. Here in Israel, when we're quiet and complacent, our enemies use the lull as an opportunity to build their arsenals for the next attack. Jews living in the Diaspora still maintain the stance that if they don't stir the pot then things will remain quiet.
I hope that they're right. But I doubt it.