What Begin and Jabotinsky Would Have Said About the New Israel Fund
As I watch the work of the New Israel Fund and its grantees, such as Breaking the Silence, I recall the words of the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who once wrote to American Jews critical of him, saying:
Jews have the right to criticize the government of Israel in which I serve as prime minister — at any given moment, any second, any hour, day or night. But I, too, have the right to ask of them to understand one thing at least: on matters which relate to the national security of this little nation in Eretz Yisrael, please refrain from preferring advice, at least in public, within earshot of our enemies who conspire to do us evil. Remember, please, the simple fact that we care for our children and grandchildren — and they, these little children, live here.
I permit myself to express astonishment why a man like you has to organize American Jews in order to publish a statement which lends–not, God forbid, intentionally — comfort to those who gleefully declared: look, the Jews of American are turning their backs on Israel. Do you, with your intelligence, not perceive that the whole purpose is to squeeze us into a thin strip of territory? What else has to be rendered in writing or orally to make you and your colleagues understand that we are fighting for our lives?
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Across the Israeli political spectrum — from Labor to Likud, Shas to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party — all sides condemn all forms of boycotts against Israel. Yet the New Israel Fund raises $30 million annually from American Jews to fund extremists like Breaking the Silence, an organization that is even more insidious.
Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky published an essay in 1908 called “Without Patriotism,” in which he wrote:
The bitter root of our shame and our suffering is that we do not give our own people the full love of a patriot. It would be better if we did not love our people at all, if we were unconcerned as to whether it existed or had disappeared, rather than that we should love it halfway, which means to despise it. The Jewish character has some negative qualities; yet it is not because they are negative that we despise them, but because they are Jewish. As for those qualities of our race which are morally or esthetically irrelevant, they awaken our disgust because they remind us of our Jewishness.
The Arab name Israil carries a beautiful and poetic sound to our ears, but those among us called Yisrael are never happy with their “ugly” name. We readily accept the fact that the Spaniard’s name is Jaime, but turn up our noses when we have to pronounce the name Chaim. The gestures made by an Italian we find captivating; they annoy us when a Jew makes them. The specifically Jewish intonation in our speech is not pleasant. The southern Germans and the Swiss articulate exactly the same jarring singsong and we do not complain; but the same sound from a Jew seems intolerably tasteless to us…
As Jabotinsky said, these dangerous people give solace and strength to the enemy. Donors to the New Israel Fund fuel the enemy. And although they work to weaken Israel, the words of Jabotinsky remain true:
It is very, very sad that Jews are compelled to learn to shoot. But we are compelled and it is useless to argue against the compulsion of historic reality. That compulsion says you may be well educated, you may learn to plow the land and to build houses, you may speak Hebrew… but if you do not at the same time know how to shoot, there is no hope. That is the lesson of the reality of our time and that is the prospect for the lifetime of our children.
There have always been those who want to destroy Jews — and there have always been Jews who harm our people.