Duvi Honig
Duvi HonigOrthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce

As the ambulances were whisking away the injured from yesterday's car-ramming terror attack in Tel Aviv, the International Red Cross was setting its sights on what it sees as the real culprit in the ongoing violence: Israel, of course.

As always, when Israel’s enemies force it to choose between self-defense or destruction, the world is dismayed, not by the needless instigation by its enemies, but by Israel’s response. In the UN, Israel is the designated punching bag, and even the United States disrespects Israel by appointing members of anti-Israel groups to the US Holocaust Memorial Council. Israel's attempts to gain the respect it deserves are not succeeding, and it’s worth considering why.

There is really no difficulty in identifying the one thing that reliably drives support and loyalty toward Israel. Throughout the world, it is people of faith who are Israel’s most vigorous supporters, not only among Jews but among other faiths as well, most notably, evangelical Christians. Pew Research data shows that support for Israel among Jews falls precipitously in tandem with an individual’s lessening level of religiosity.

Orthodox Jews in particular are a bedrock of Israeli support in the United States, expending not cheap words but genuine toil, capital, and influence on its behalf. They are the only group leveraging their influence as a sizable voting bloc to steer US policy in Israel’s favor. Their support of Israel and rejection of BDS is full-throated and unapologetic, and they lobby heavily on all political fronts, from federal to state to local, against all expression of this new, yet somehow all too familiar, incarnation of antisemitism.

For people of faith, support for Israel finds its roots in deep and fervent religious sentiment. Israel is not merely a democracy but a nation, a group many millions strong proudly carrying on the legacy and values of their ancestors as God’s Chosen Nation. By contrast, Jewish groups like J Street who are bent on undermining Israel at every turn are animated by a very different view that gives Israel no unique role in humanity’s destiny. Israel is a democracy like any other. Nothing of substance hinges on its existence, and the strip of land known as Israel would be just as well served by another government that would take its place.

Israel confounds the efforts of its own allies when it confusedly plays right into the hands of these enemies, downplaying its Jewish identity and values out of fear of being perceived as different. Israel is eager to celebrate “pride” and display it’s devotion to the sacred dogmas of secularism, but shrinks away from in embarrassment from its true pride, its priceless heritage.

Presenting itself to the world as just one among the nations earns Israel not respect but scorn. Even those who hate Israel for being Jewish are unimpressed and, as history has tragically taught us, will always hate Jews for who they are. We can’t fight the harmful rhetoric of those who denigrate Israel’s interests while simultaneously feeding the notion that we have nothing of value to protect and preserve. The feeble attempts to stake Israel’s purpose entirely on combating antisemitism are woefully inadequate.

Israel’s strength is the love and veneration it inspires in millions around the globe as the eternal home of the Jewish nation and its heritage. There can be no greater privilege for an Orthodox Jew than to play even a small role in the flourishing of Jewish heritage and Jewish values in his ancestral homeland. Schools and synagogues are springing up on every block in Israel, heavily funded by the philanthropy of American Orthodox Jews. The sums flowing from private donations into all manner of Israeli charitable causes are astronomical. As enemies of the Jewish state work to marginalize Israel economically, Orthodox Jews are all too eager to engage and invest, boosting Israeli companies and sustaining Israeli trade.

Supporters of Israel are passionate about seeing Israel succeed, not only as a democracy, but as a nation. Yet they constantly feel that Israel is ashamed of them, that it wishes not to be associated with the antiquated values and culture of the past. When Israeli delegates stand along their Arab counterparts, and the Arabs are proudly wearing their kaffiyehs while the bareheaded Israelis are completely indistinctive as Jewish, we appear small and piteous, both to us and to the world.

Israel needs to turn back from the fool’s errand of winning over its enemies by adopting their ways and instead embrace its roots by promoting Shabbos, Heritage and family values, teaching Jewish history and faith in its schools, and celebrating those who meticulously adhere to Judaism’s ancient wisdom and traditions.

For thousands of years, our values and traditions have held us together as a nation. Our enemies never cease to try to destroy us, but history gives us confidence that those values will give is the fortitude to outlast them all. Israel will reap the full benefit of that great source of strength when it finds the self-confidence to wear its identity with pride.

Duvi Honig is founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber Of Commerce

The Orthodox Jewish Chamber Of Commerce www.OjChamber.com is a global umbrella of businesses of all sizes, bridging the highest echelons of the business and governmental worlds together stimulating economic opportunity and positively affecting public policy of governments around the world. Duvi effectively utilizes the power of commerce and these networks to unite and empower people of all backgrounds, and influence public policy at the local, state, federal and international levels. His work was recognized by both President Obama and President Trump and, in 2016, he was honored by a bipartisan group of Senators in the Capitol. The Chambers leadership was recognized most recently by Israel's D Prime Minister, Israeli Ministers and Members of the Knesset for its advocacy and support on behalf of Israel and the global economy. [email protected]