This afternoon I spoke to a rally in New York organized by Beth Gilinsky’s Action Alliance. The big crowd, despite miserable weather, filled the sidewalk on Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets. Lots of terrific speakers spoke passionately about the need to support Israel against the shocking treatment from American leaders. Here are my prepared remarks:
We are at war. It’s a global war. It extends from Pakistan and Afghanistan to India, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and from there towards Israel and then down to Egypt, Sudan and Somalia, and west to Europe and ultimately to America. It targets Canada and Australia, Honduras and Colombia, and all those who challenge fanatical intolerance and instead advocate freedom. It is a continuation of the ancient war of tyranny against freedom, a war that will endure so long as freedom threatens the power and legitimacy of monarchs and dictators.
That war — a war of awesome dimensions, a war with a long and bloody history — is not the consequence of this or that unpopular policy but above all of beliefs we are not even supposed to pronounce nowadays: the crazed visions of Muslim extremists who are waging jihad against us. And the beliefs of radical secular extremists who share the goals of jihad.
That war is being waged by people who hate America and Israel, as they hate Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, and those many Muslims who want to live in peace.
What? Did you forget that the Taliban destroyed statues of Buddha? Does anybody believe that they would have been spared if there were peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?
Yet there are those — people in positions of great prestige and power, some in government, some in the press, some in the universities — who insist that all would be well if only Prime Minister Netanyahu told a few Jews they can’t live in a certain neighborhood of Jerusalem. That Israel’s enemies — who are also OUR enemies — would scrap their global jihad if only there were one more Arab country in the Middle East.
To demonstrate their conviction that Israel is the problem, these people treat Israel’s enemies — who are also OUR enemies — with greater respect than they showed Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu is treated as an unwelcome guest at the White House while radical Islamists are constantly asked, very politely, to be reasonable and to become our friends.
Sometimes they even receive a bow.
This is folly. It is morally corrupt and strategically misguided. Consider the case of Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorists. The Islamic Republic of Iran declared war on the United States in 1979, and has waged war against us for 31 years. Iranian-supported terrorists, alongside Iranian military personnel, are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan today, at the same time that they are organizing lethal assaults against Israeli civilians and military personnel. Even today Hezbollah is receiving new rockets and missiles, new intelligence assessments, new supplies of ammunition, directly from Iran. And yet, in all these years, the United States has never directly challenged Iran, never made that dreadful regime pay an appropriate price for the murders it has committed and supported.
Anyone who looks clearly at the Iranian regime knows that the mullahs make no distinction between the United States and Israel except a geographical one: Israel is closer. But both are targeted for destruction. When thousands of Iranians are mobilized in the streets to chant “death to America!” — what do you think they mean?
The Iranians have been doing these things for 31 years. They are not a response to apartment flats in Jerusalem. They are acts of an evil regime fully committed to the destruction of the United States and of Israel.
And yet, the prime minister of Israel is singled out for public humiliation while the supreme leader of Iran is addressed respectfully. Israeli housing policy is considered a greater threat to peace than Iranian attacks against Americans and Israelis. While there is much talk about sanctions and about the Iranian nuclear program, we are not doing anything against the Iranian terrorists and their proxies: Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and the many others, including Al Qaeda.
It is folly. It is morally corrupt and strategically misguided. Instead of fighting our enemies, we direct our moral outrage against Israel’s unquestioned right to govern its own capital city. This must change.
The American people understand this much better than American leaders. Republicans understand that better than Democrats, and American Christians understand it better than American Jews. Just the other day the Anti-Defamation League issued a special report, not about the alarming and disgusting increase in anti-Semitism in this country, including vulgar accusations of dual loyalty (or, as Harvard’s Prof. Walt slyly prefers to put it, conflict of interest) against American Jews in the government, but rather against the miniscule and marginal militia movement in the United States, which is being dealt with quite effectively by our law enforcement bodies.
Afraid or embarrassed to deal with the real threat to both Israel and the United dates, our leaders prefer to conjure up fantastic bogeymen, from builders of apartment buildings to militias. The bogeymen are the politically correct substitutes for the very real threat that actually menaces our security and perhaps even our survival.
Where are the so-called leaders of the big American Jewish organizations? Where are the Presidents of major American universities? As Mayor Koch put it so well, the silence is deafening. We all know that in the 1930s, most American Jewish leaders failed to speak out against the indifference of the political class to the plight of the European Jews. It is less well known that American universities were similarly silent, that outspoken Nazi supporters and apologists continued to teach in such distinguished places as Harvard and the University of Chicago, and that they continued to teach at such places long after the Second World War was over.
Is it Groundhog Day all over again? Will we remain silent as we did in the past? Or will we join with the great majority of our fellow citizens and insist that Israel is entitled to greater respect than her enemies and that our leaders must recognize that Israel’s enemies are OUR enemies too?
Those of us who have gathered here today know that those who threaten Israel threaten America too. In this moment of great crisis the overwhelming majority of Americans know that, just as our friends around the world proclaimed on September 11, 2001, “we are all Americans,” so today “we are all Israelis.”