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Are You Really “Pro-Israel”?
By Dovid Efune

Among the more overused and under-defined terms circulating in America’s political lexicon, is the term “Pro-Israel .“

It has been brandied around by young upstarts and established stalwarts alike by card bearing members of the far right and the far left of the political spectrum.  It doesn’t seem to necessitate much action at all to be baptized into the Pro-Israel community, save a proud declaration, preferably in the presence of some flag waving Jews.

Although there should obviously be some room for variations of opinion and each will define and express their pro-Israelism in their fashion of preference, the term is important and oft used enough to warrant at least a loose defining and boundary creation. This should help those that really care for Israel’s best interests shake off the pretenders and throw support behind those that really mean it.

I open with a fairly safe assumption; to be “Pro-Israel,” one must support the Interests of the state of Israel and indeed the safety and security of her citizens.

But how do we determine what is indeed in Israel’s best interests? Some interesting polls that have been published lately may help shed light on the matter.

Firstly the following poll:

According to a Smith Research poll released Sunday, only 31 percent of Israelis consider the views of American president Barack Obama’s administration “pro-Israel.” Obama’s numbers contrast sharply with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose administration, according to the poll, was considered pro-Israel by 88% of respondents.

Secondly this:

A recent poll conducted by Liberal “Pro-Israel” group J-Street showed that 76 percent of American Jews believe that Obama supports Israel.

So why is it that American and Israeli Jews are so polarized on Obama’s Pro-Israelism? And more importantly, who has got it right?

It an attempt to shed some light on this issue I will borrow a chapter from Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book Outliers.

Drawing examples from recent history’s most famous achievers, such as Bill Gates and the Beatles, Gladwell asserts that In order to become well enough versed in any subject or occupation to be considered an expert, prodigy and thus prove super successful in the field undertaken one would have to have dedicated at least 10,000 hours to the endeavor.

So the first and most important thing is to be experienced. The average American exposure for the most part consists of contextually bite sized news snippets that are spoon-fed by the BBC, CNN, Fox News or the Jerusalem Post, possibly a trip or two to the Holy-Land.

Now comparing the Israelis to their American counterparts, it is clear who the overall authority on Middle Eastern affairs is, and specifically what in reality constitutes a “Pro-Israel” stance.

The Israelis live and breathe their predicament from the day they are born; they study their collective history in school, from high school they are handed a uniform and a gun for three years of mandatory army service serving all over the country often in Palestinian areas. Many have experienced the horror of suicide bombers, shooting attacks, lived under the shower of rockets and mortars. The average Israeli has worked and studied with Palestinians, shared hospitals and health clinics. Indeed your Joe Sabra has well over 10,000 hours of intimate Israel experience under his belt.

It is time that we foreigners bowed to the experiences and sacrifices of our Israeli brothers and sisters, allowing them to voice what Israel’s best interests incorporate and what exactly constitutes a “Pro-Israel” position. This means accepting the sad reality that the current American administration is among the least “pro-Israel” that we have ever seen. If we wish to wear a badge that proudly declares “Pro-Israel” we’d better be pushing our elected officials in the right direction.

Posted on May 22, 2009
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