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Op-Ed: Relax, Israel, America Doesn't Care

If it's not happening in America, it's not happening anywhere.
Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 12:38 AM


Those of us in America who stay awake nights worrying about Israel sometimes imagine that the rest of the country is similarly obsessed. This is a serious mistake. America has other business. Even worse is when Israel makes foolish and tragic concessions in order to “make America happy.” But America is happy enough watching “Dancing with the Stars.”

Back when I was editor for KYW all-news radio (a million listeners during my Morning Drive shift) I ran Israel as the top story day after day. I gave people what I thought they wanted. Turned out, from a scientific survey, that people wanted weather and traffic. News about the rest of the country was a distant third and news about the rest of the world was down at the bottom at about zero.

The other day I asked some people I know what they thought of Bibi. “Bibi who?” was the consensus.

“Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” I said.

“Oh,” said one wise man. “He’s the prime minister of Iran, right?”

Make no mistake. Americans are not stupid. They just don’t care. If it’s not happening here, it’s not happening anywhere.

America’s heartbeat is in its ballparks.

The most recent Gevalt moment was when Bibi was dragged to Washington kicking and screaming. We worried. What is he going to give up today? How much territory will Israel lose and how many more murderers will be released? Israeli prime ministers, according to ritual, are invited to the White House once a year to get themselves slapped around.

There is precedent for this. In Toulouse, only a few centuries ago, once a year the chief rabbi had to present himself to the archbishop on the church steps for a public and ceremonial slap across the face. So the tradition is not lost even here, and it is not just Obama or Bibi. This goes back to any president and every prime minister ever since Israel dared to declare itself a nation.

The annual slap across the face persists.

Israeli leaders, by the way, are never given the red carpet treatment when they get schlepped to Washington. It’s the servant’s entrance and never a summit. Such honors are reserved for important dignitaries, as when the leader of Mongolia comes to town. Arafat slept in Lincoln’s bedroom.

If Israel makes a deal strictly for its own benefit, there is nothing much the rest of us can say. But if it bends to what it thinks is the will of America, think again.

Right now millions are watching basketball and soon millions will be watching baseball. Will Jeter find his swing? That’s the worry.

It is true that Fox News (somewhat favorable to Israel) gets the highest ratings of anything comparable on cable TV. But the highest number there, even for the most successful program, like Bill O’Reilly’s, reaches no more than about four to five million dedicated viewers. But 20 million are watching “The Bachelor.” Will she or won’t she accept his proposal?

Yes, The New York Times is still in business and still furious about Israel, but everybody’s gone home from that paper except for the fanatical Left.

America can take care of itself. Israel would do well to do the same. Or as we say – keep your eyes on the ball.

Jack Engelhard will be writing a weekly column for Arutz Sheva. New from the best-selling novelist, 10 addition stories in his award-winning memoir, Escape From Mount Moriah. Website: www.jackengelhard.com