A few weeks ago, I wrote a response to a provocative pro-Israel OpEd that was published on an anti-Zionist website. After consulting with some wise friends, I decided to place my response on hold and not publish it because the response, by its nature, would provide more attention to the piece that it was referring to, when I would rather that it just disappear, less noticed, in the flow of information being posted on the web.
The author of the piece I am referring to is a friend and a colleague, and one whom I would like to think shares common goals and core values. Inevitably, the offensive OpEd piece has rolled down the time-line and I doubt that it is fresh in anyone’s memory. Had I published my comments then, there is a good chance that it would have opened a discussion and raked in more popularity.
So why, you might ask, am I bringing this up now? Subsequently, the author of this piece went on to produce a YouTube spoof of an American popular recording artist. My feelings about the video, like the OpEd before it, were ambivalent. On one hand, I am glad to see Jews making a clear and eloquent argument for Zionism. I also appreciate the perspectives of people who see things from different angles than my own.
But now, as a second YouTube video spoof has been launched, a realization of what is so wrong with these productions is becoming clear to me. Zionism, for me, is about restoring the dignity of the Jewish people. The basis of our rights to freedom, safety and self determination do not come from Thomas Jefferson and the U.S. Constitution, nor do they have any affiliation with some musical striptease artist from MTV.
The Jewish people are a holy nation with a rich and ancient history and culture. The public relations concept that calls for re-branding Israel using cold beer and beautiful girls in bikinis on the beaches of Tel Aviv is self defeating and degrading to our heritage.
We did not gather from four corners of the earth and fight endless wars for the right to be a cheap imitation of America here in the middle of the desert in the Middle East. I do not believe that showing Jewish women’s bare skin is going to convince the nations of the world that we have a right to the land that the IDF captured in 1967. But I do have reason to believe that our expression of our loss of traditional values and our imports of the American culture of permissiveness are a big part of what scares our neighbors and leads them to mistakenly conclude that Zionism is a front for western imperialism.
Please do not make that mistake. The Jewish people have returned to our homeland in order to fulfill an historic calling: to be a light unto the nations – a people with values worth imitating. Our mission is not to be a Hebrew speaking, gun-toting western society with no values. That, we could do in Los Angeles.
So, with great appreciation for your good intentions and creativity, I request that you put your clothes back on and preach a message that we can all take pride in.