The real way to be 'pro-Israel'
March 17, 2010

I am a Jewish, Israeli-born, dual citizen -- I became a U.S. citizen --
				-- over 20 years ago -- who mourns
				what Israel has become. The "bad
				timing" of the East Jerusalem
				settlements may be a blessing in
				disguise in that such settlements, so
				destructive to the prospects of peace,
				are normally either ignored or given
				the mildest of criticism by
				Washington, either out of fear of the
				Israeli lobby or out of short-sighted
				refusal to disparage a powerful
				strategic ally state. I feel morally
				compelled to say two things to my
				fellow Americans.

First, it is time, and past time, to stop referring to blind support
for Israel government policies as the "pro-Israel" position. Such
policies have often been not only illegal and brutal towards
Palestinians but also deeply harmful to the interests Israel's own
citizens and to the very future of the Israeli state, thus truly
anti-Israel. Those Americans, Jewish or otherwise, who disagree with
or even condemn Israel government actions, so long as they come from a
position of universal respect for human rights and international law,
are taking a position that is not only righteous but also far more
deserving of the label "pro-Israel" in the sense of being in the
long-term interest and well-being of the Israeli people.

We must not be silenced by fear of being labeled insufficiently
"loyal." Our own American history -- the internment of Japanese --
				-- Americans during World War II comes --
				-- to mind -- bears witness to the
fact that taking a dissident moral stand often means having one's
loyalty questioned in the short run for positions which history
ultimately proves were right and just.

My second and final plea to fellow Americans who care about Israel's
future is to please get to know the growing network of Israeli peace
movements. Israel may be praised for allowing critical voices within
its borders, yet ironically such Israelis are seldom heard in the
U.S., and American leaders risk being attacked as "anti-Israel" or
even "anti-Semitic" if they criticize the actions or motives of
Israel, even if in ways which are often milder than what many Israelis
think about their own government's actions.

The Internet allows us to connect with such Israeli voices: Ir Amim
( ) about Jerusalem; Yesh Gvul (a pun on "there is
a border" and "enough is enough" at in support of
Israeli military personnel courageously refusing to back the
occupation; and Gush Shalom (the Israel Peace Block,
where one can find updates, photos from peaceful demonstrations, and
the fiery yet compassionate writings of its 86-year-old founder, Uri
Avnery, himself a veteran of the 1948 war of independence. If you want
to be truly "pro Israel," listen to these voices before making up your

Harel Barzilai, Salisbury