What Is a Jewish Issue?

August 14th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 12 comments

My husband and I have many friends and relatives who grew up in America and now make their home in Israel. Some of these people served with distinction in the American military; others contributed to the United States through their businesses or other means. All of them are grateful to the country of their birth even though they no longer live here.

On their behalf as well as on the behalf of those of us who currently call the United States home, I felt compelled to respond to the following social media post I saw.

“…I only feel sorry for family and friends who are infected with Trumphobia and blinded to recognizing that there is no current Democrat candidate who would NOT be a disaster for Israel and the Jewish People. [that should be ] The only Jewish concern.” (my bolded emphasis)

I immediately submitted my opposition to this post on social media and I wish to share that response with you. I am expanding it slightly since my reply was off the cuff and I now have more time to review it, but the gist of what I said is the same:

I’m afraid I have to disagree with your words, Mr. X. I am concerned for America and actually get annoyed when politicians think that because I am Jewish I only care about Israel and those of my own faith. I care deeply about the United States of American and her citizens, whatever their faith.

I happen to think that in today’s world what is bad for Jews and Israel is bad for America and vice-versa. If those interests ever separate, then one group will be behaving in ways that violate Biblical values. We will need to oppose whichever it is— either America’s policies or those of Israel. I don’t mean on minor disagreements which have to occur if each government cares primarily for its own citizens as it must, but I mean a real rift because one nation sides with Godly values and direction while the other doesn’t. Standing with the Jewish people always means lining up with Biblical Truth and both the United States and the State of Israel have many policies that do that and some that don’t. Standing strongly for those values is my “Jewish concern” and I am grateful to live in a country where so many Christians share that concern.

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12 comments

Janet Mcintosh says:

Thank you Susan, I have learned just what you talked about from you and your husband. That what’s good for Israel is also good for America, observant Jews and Christians.

Susan Lapin says:

I think our country would be much healthier, Janet, if everyone saw us as one nation rather than the hodgepodge of special interests and group identities. I don’t appreciate anyone running for office assuming they know what I think because I’m female, white, Jewish, or because of my education level etc.

LJ says:

I’m sure that, next to the greatest Hebrew writings known to mankind found in the Bible, “America’s Real War,” explains this issue very well. It is very IMPORTANT to have a society based upon Judeo-Christian values. Our son recently wrote about the largest Christian denominations in America and what they believe. He made a one-page report to share with a group of “Elder” men at a church congregation. His findings are not good for America. It’s difficult to find older people who articulate well and who stand up to the nonsense we hear daily. I think applied critical thinking skills lack and that group-think is common. People often use “modern” language without thinking too much of what words mean.

Susan Lapin says:

LJ, I hope your son’s report was received with open ears.

Don says:

LJ, I understand fully. I am seventy-five, a disabled Vietnam veteran, retired military, and a true patriot. I have the ability to speak and I think speak well. The problem is that no one will listen to me. My family is my only audience and they feel as I do. Very few people will listen to them either. I took an oath and I have a mission. I will fight until I am called home

Priscilla says:

The fact that your family agrees with you speaks well for you. Not many men of your age can say with such confidence that their family will hear them. I am very impressed! As a mother of young children, I am eager to hear your advice as well. What would you say is the most important thing you’ve done in order to cause your children to want to hear you? I would love to hear your response!

Ivan says:

Sorry, but USA has much broader interest in the Middle East then Israel. And favoring Israel against all those Arabic nations is foolish. Jews are not worth that much that USA should be in conflict with so many nations that are potentially much valuable allies. Let the young Joshua bleeding for Israel and not young Johnny.
Remember the winning slogan America First? 🙂

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Sorry, Ivan,
But I don’t think it is as simple as the USA having broader interests in the Middle East. Since when has foreign diplomacy been conducted strictly on the basis of America’s interests. You might remember Pres Obama getting a free pass for his notorious open mike moment in 2012 when he leaned over to then Russian president Dimitri Medvedev and said, “This is my last election, after my election I have more flexibility.” This went along with his Russian ‘reset’ he planned with H Clinton. As it happened, they were right. American interests and Russian interests under Putin were fairly well aligned in terms of main concerns about Islamic threats and Chinese saber rattling. Still, no sooner did Trump emerge as the Republican nominee, his correct vision of American Russo relations were viciously attacked. So which is it? America should work with Russia or not? What are our interests? Well, it doesn’t matter. It all gets decided on a crude political level not a strategic interest one. When Saudi Arabia killed one of their own citizens Jamal Khashoggi a year ago in October 2018, the American political establishment utterly violated our interests which were then as they are now, good relations with the Saudi government in favor of imperilling all diplomatic connection with one of the most important Arab states. (By the way, I hope you protested that contradiction of our interests). Why did being the world’s policeman and condemning Saudi Arabia for taking care of a problem of theirs in a typically brutal and cruel fashion interfere with our interests. Will we cut of relations with every country that executes those of their own citizens that annoy them. That will rule out a whole lot of our putative allies. No, our establishment was offended that someone they saw as an intellectual was executed and they seized the opportunity to try embarrass the president. So your theme that we act on America’s strategic interests is quaint but simply not true. Our strategic interests would be best served by viewing China as our next likely military adversary. However, that is politically untenable; voters prefer pretending that our most serious threat is Russia. And that is how it goes. I don’t know if you are right that America’s strategic interests would be best served by allowing Israel to be overrun which is the only outcome that will placate the Arab Middle East. I doubt that you are correct. But even if you are, it is entirely irrelevant because a majority of Christian Evangelical voters believe that America’s long term interests are best served by alliance with Israel. The politics is what dictates America’s support of Israel. It never was about national strategic interests. If it was, Israel support would emanate from Foggy Bottom and the rest of the State establishment but it never has. Those centers of American influence have always been strongly Arabist. Even Pres Obama who shared your outlook regarding Israel was incapable of much changing America’s stance. That’s just how our politics work in this country and in general, I am happy for it. I think that if some people want to vote for America injuring its interests in the name of promoting democracy around the world in places completely in hospitable to it like Iraq, they are being stupid but their stupidity is part of American freedom. And if others want to vote for leaders who will stand in support of Israel, that is their right too, as it is your right to vote against that view.
Cordially
RDL

Ivan says:

I appreciate you took time to respond me. I love your and your wife’s work. I enjoyed in many of your podcasts and I love some of your audioprograms and I recommend them to others too.
And I understand your ‘conflict of interest’ regarding this particular issue, but I’m Catholic and I see it better if I may be so bold to say it.

First, I’m not a fan of Mr. Obama and his domestic policies. So I’m not suggesting that any Western state, let alone USA, should be lecturing Arabs anything about human rights regarding missing reporters or woman wearing veil.
Second, I agree with your observations that modern China is the biggest treat to humanity, much more than USSR back then, let alone Muslim terrorism. And something must be done about it for sure.

Third, I’m not cheering for destruction of Israel. I think they accomplished some remarkable things in short period of time and it would be good if they could come up with some kind of mutually beneficial agreement with their neighbors. But survival of Israel IS NOT WORTH IT of American’s taxpayers dollars and especially not American’s blood!
And also, you know better then me that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Israel lose half it’s territory or in worst case even stop existing. Many Orthodox Jews didn’t welcome establishment of modern Isreal because that state has to do with ancient Israel ‘so much in common’ like the ancient Greece with modern Greece – only name and acclamation of the past. Everything else is the product of 19th century secular Zionist mythology.

And most importantly, interventionism is not good neither in national economy nor in the foreign policy. We want our Republic back, and stop with world’s Imperialism, world’s policemen policy and so called Christian-Zionist idiocy and heresy. Real Christianity is not an ideology but faith that has potential to shape individuals life. And one’s national policy must have more common sense then listening to some drug addict who became some pastor and now making tours to ‘Holly land’. It would be better for him to be more active in his own community here in US where we see so many material and especially spiritual problems.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Really no conflict of interest, Ivan,
thanks for writing back. I think it is good that America favors Japan and S. Korea over Cuba and N. Korea and I think it good that America supports Israel. I am not conflicted at all. The notion that you see it better because you’re Catholic, if I may be so bold to say, is ludicrous. In what way does a faith currently led by a socialist help you see better. And I was a huge fan of the former pope, Benedict. Now he really did see how the world REALLY works. No wonder he resigned. But this current pope, come now, really? I wish I could say that adherence to the faith makes Jews ‘see it better’ as you put it. It would be nice if fealty to Buddhism helped its adherents ‘see it better’. But the evidence just isn’t there for such claims, not even about Catholicism.
Given a non-interventionist approach, how would you prepare for coming conflict with China? Just curious. It may not be the end of the world if Israel lost half of its territory as you put it, but it would probably be the brutal extermination of millions of Jews. And with that, I have a real problem.
Cordially
RDL

Ivan says:

Oh, no, pardon me. I really didn’t meant to say that my religion gives me better general outlook then anyone’s else. I’m not that arrogant, at least not regarding that. Although I don’t think that someone’s age is automatically guaranty for wisdom and often a fool with passing of time just became older fool (Joe Biden).
But if anything, so many people here and you especially have much more personal life’s experience. And me saying that ‘I know better’ would not just be arrogant but obviously false. And since I was born 1990 it wouldn’t be only false but also comical for me to say ‘I know better and more.’
So I was just referring to US-Israel relationship and policy, only that. I said in that particular topic I believe I might be a little bit more objective because I don’t suffer of emotional engagement. Just that.

Regarding policy towards China, my short answer is: we must do everything that Trump and Steve Bannon said in 2016. Economic war.

Listen, Pope is just one person fulfilling one important roll. But life of Church is independent of any strong personality, whether it be Pope Francis or Benedict or whoever. Being Pope is just roll of one of many thousand bishops. Namely, the Pope is bishop of city Rome and bishop of city Rome has some priority among all other bishops, that’s it. But every Catholic belongs to his parish and that parish belongs to it’s diocese with it’s bishop of charge.

And since we’re touched ‘sensitive’ topic of religion, both Judaism and Catholicism having much more valuable things to say then the Evangelicals you mention earlier. It’s so funny you even mention them, especially because I know they really are big portion of your audience. And the funny part is that they are listening wisdom from few thousand years old tradition from Talmud, which is all positive and good. I myself like it too. But at the same time they’re rejecting their very own few thousand years old Christian tradition.
All I want to say is that for both you and me is silly to even consider that everything about the Bible is packed in the Scriptures. You are aware of necessity of existing oral Talmudic extended tradition and I’m aware of necessity of existing extended tradition in Church’s Catechism. And the reason why I like reading and listening your material in the first place is because I find many overlaps with my own faith tradition. But those Evangelicals are looking at your materials as it falls from Mars. They neglecting their own traditions which goes many more in depth.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Okay, Ivan,
I hear what you’re saying and my policy to which I have rigorously adhered for many years, is that I don’t engage in theological discussion. I am much more interested in Bible which is all about what God thinks of man. Theology is mostly about what men think about God. I have little to zero interest in that. I appreciate you reading and listening to my work, I really do. Also you taking the time to write is no small matter. I accept that I do have an emotional attachment to Israel. But I also have the deep emotional attachment to the United States of America often found in the immigrant. I am filled with awe for the Protestant Christians who constituted the bulk of the Founders of this country and with gratitude for the Catholics who built Maryland, the state in which many of my children live. All in all, I’d like to see a billion Moslems immediately convert to Christianity. I think the world would be a better place. And just to demonstrate how open minded I am, I will allow each converting Moslem to choose whether he or she prefers to become a Protestant or a Catholic. Here’s a revolutionary thought with which I don’t think you’ll agree because of your own emotional engagements, I will allow them to choose to become members of the LDS church, the Mormons. But relax, none of this is about to happen. I don’t judge theologies, I judge the day to day conduct of the devotees of those theologies and in those terms, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Mormons all have beautiful, family-valuing, hard working productive peaceful lifestyles. Thanks for being so thoughtful.
Cordially
RDL

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