John, George or Judah?

Ellen W. Horowitz - Israel National News - August 1, 2004 / 14 Av 5764

"Judah, too, will battle against Jerusalem." (Zachariah 14:14)

I don't know about you, but I've been hitting the delete key a lot these past few weeks, as a flurry of election email appears to be competing with the usual spam.

It seems that the main concern among many Diaspora Jews and Israelis alike is which US presidential candidate is best (or worst) for Israel. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about - I haven't participated in an American election since making aliyah in 1986. The whole thing seems pretty cut and dried to me.

Americans should be concerned with which presidential candidate is best for America and American interests, whereas Israelis should concern themselves with which Israeli leader is best for the Jewish State. But there appears to be a real dilemma for some Israelis holding dual citizenship, and for those American Jews who pledge allegiance to the stars and stripes, but who have hearts that beat with Israel.

Dual loyalty issues are becoming more perplexing and stressful, because American foreign policy decisions are increasingly out-of-sync with Israel's best interests (I'll let you in on a secret - some of those decisions are not in America's best interests either).

America may be Israel's long-standing best friend, but the relationship that once placed mutual security interests at the top of the agenda is rapidly changing. We can all thrill to a joint Israeli-American Arrow missile project, but our hearts sink when we realize that Uncle Sam is up to his neck in an illicit affair with some of Israel's most formidable enemies - which translates into some inappropriate and harmful interference in Israel's internal affairs, in addition to some blatantly hypocritical foreign policy.

So, who's good for the Jews, John Kerry or George Bush? It doesn't much matter.

But what should be of concern are some of the boys behind the scenes, both Democrat and Republican, who are definitely bad for the Jews - and many of them are Jewish.

All the presidents' men, from the guys writing the speeches and handling the press conferences, to those advising and formulating policies, to the businessmen helping to bankroll the campaigns, to the diplomats and ambassadors, are the ones we Israelis should be wary of.

Abarbanel and other commentators felt that it is the descendants of Judah who, after the destruction of both the first and second Temples, continued to hold positions of leadership in the Diaspora Jewish communities, as well as wield great influence in the secular political and economic spheres. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah." (Genesis 49:10) One has to wonder where Israel would stand today if the lion's share of that Diaspora talent, manpower and brainpower had been primarily dedicated to the development of the Jewish State. The dedicated American (first) Jew always answers, "Where would Israel be without America?"

"Shemayah said: 'Love work; abhor taking high office; and do not seek intimacy with the ruling power.'" (Pirke Avot) But what if one's talents and skills are custom-made for leadership?

The Court Jew has traditionally provided an important service for both the Jewish community and their country of temporary residency. But when the geopolitical sands and winds start shifting, even the most well-intentioned and upstanding Jewish public servant or private sector entrepreneur can lose their way in the storm. It's difficult to let go of the good life, limelight, influence and seductive smooth talk. If one doesn't know when to bow out, one could find oneself pitted against one's own brethren. The same goes for any Jew walking the fine line of dual loyalties. (It is interesting to note that some commentaries claim that the spies gave a slanderous report about the Land of Israel because they feared losing their positions of power and leadership once they crossed over into Israel (Numbers13:3).)

I suggest that world Jewry step out of the fog and stop trying to rationalize and decipher the various shades of gray in the upcoming election. For the Jew concerned about the future of his or her people, things may be very black and white.

If you're an American Jew (Jewish American?) and confused with regards to where you truly stand, take "the Pollard Test". It's really quite simple and will make things remarkably clear.

Question: Is Jonathan Pollard a traitor?

If you answered "no", then it's time to pack your bags and book your flight home. If you answered "yes", then you are undoubtedly American first and have consequently abandoned Israel. If you "don't know," then you have a lot to think about.

For those of you who aren't quite ready for aliyah yet, but who claim to remain fiercely dedicated to Israel, take the test one step further and make the matter of Jonathan Pollard's continued imprisonment your campaign issue. Think any of the lions of Judah will pick up that bone, or will they choose to keep it buried?

Who's good for the Jews? As you can see, the issue reaches far beyond choosing between the elephant or the donkey. I suggest that you look past the balloons and hoopla of America's partisan political arena and check out the den behind that stars and stripes curtain.

The on-going Diaspora (continued exile), and the Jew who promotes it and enjoys it, is most definitely bad for Israel.