I am by no means an unquestioning supporter of Israel. And I am convinced that the focus on the “Israel Lobby” is a good thing for both America and for Israel. But there is no question in my mind that Israel deserves American support and that our alliance should remain strong and steadfast.
The case for Israel is not moral, and it is certainly not biblical. As rationales for the existence of a state, neither argument is convincing.
The Jews are not “owed” anything for the years of pogroms and the Holocaust unless everyone who has ever suffered is owed; nor does the reasoning that the Jews have suffered more than others ring true. The Jews have suffered, but so have millions of others individually and collectively. Suffering, however prolonged or organized, does not warrant special privileges for the sufferer.
As for the bible, I think I speak for every rational human being when I say that it’s existence should be irrelevant in modern geopolitics. It is not, of course. But I am assuming that readers of this post are rational.
No. The case for Israel is political. It is not just that they are a democracy (though this is, obviously, vitally important), it is that they have a flourishing institution that is the essential complement to liberal democracy: a free press.
And this, and this alone, is the true, best reason to support Israel.
There has been a lot of talk lately in neocon circles about a league of democracies. This is a good idea, as far as it goes. But the problem is that all democracies are not constructed equally. Even Israel clings to the idea of itself as a Jewish state, and hence it is not truly democratic. What should be the cornerstone of a league of democracies is a measurement of the freedom of a state’s press.
If, as in Israel, the press is free to openly and repeatedly question the deepest held convictions of the state – its laws, its history, its purpose, its government – than that state deserves to truly belong to a league of democracies.
Without this freedom, even the ballot is compromised. A free press is the absolute (forgive me) sine qua non for any country that wants to truly be a free, liberal democracy.