Why Does Israel Still Matter?

Tags: Jewish Identity, Antisemitism, Diaspora, Advocacy

By Jason Blau

In a time of upheaval and chaos, many Americans are asking a fair question. Why should I care about some place halfway across the world, when there are so many problems at home? This query asked about practically any matter of foreign interest or policy, from Syria to North Korea, seems to make sense.

From a quarantine that is destroying the world’s economy, in response to a pandemic that is killing on an unprecedented level in a century, all the way to riots that have forced the American army to occupy most of our urban centers, it seems quite sensible to retreat to the concerns of one’s immediate surroundings. From the point of view of many Americans, it is a choice between putting out the fire at one’s metaphorical house, or a neighbor’s.

This is especially true for Jewish Americans and Israel, due to the preexisting bias against Israel, combined with many Americans Jews’ intense social activism and focus on tikkun olam. This development, while seemingly sensible, is illogical, and wholly incorrect.

In fact, for Jewish Americans, Israel has never been more important, due to these very events. Jewish American support for Israel is essential, and beneficial, due to three main factors: Israel is important as a center for vaccine research and might end up offering the solution to the pandemic, Israel is important as an economic node, necessary for reviving the world economy, and most of all, Israel is important as our sanctuary against what the future might portend.

The biotechnology team at MIGAL (The Galilee Research Institute) working towards the final stages of a COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of MIGAL

The State of Israel is a leader in biotechnology and medicine. From the universities to the enormous number of pharmaceutical labs and corporations, Israel is well known as the home of much of the cutting edge of medical research. This resource is extremely important in the global fight against corona, and it is very possible Israel will be the first to discover a vaccine for coronavirus, or a medical treatment that can dramatically improve the prognosis of those infected.

In fact, the Defense Ministry’s biological unit developed a vaccine that works on animals, and only needs to be moved to human trials for final production and distribution. While this is an enormous task, the State of Israel, far from being a distraction to problems at home, might be the very nation that solves the most dire and unprecedented out of all of them. Naturally, this effort is contingent on Israel not being abandoned by those in the United States, or around the world, due to their unique security situation. The country is small, vulnerable, and can only be sustained in such rigorous and scientific efforts through cooperation, aid, and an assurance of security by other powers.

Additionally, Israel is vital as an economic hub of the world economy. The current crash we are suffering is partially due to coronavirus, but it is also tightly linked with those efforts to prevent or impede its progress. The world economy, more tightly interwoven than any time before, is now broken up, with many trading links between nations closed or restricted, preventing the flow of necessary parts for machinery, cooperation between corporations, and the efficient exchange of goods and resources to supply those who need it most.

This economic recession, caused by the destruction of the global economic network, requires its constituent part’s prosperity to renew and revive the global economy. In other words, the United States, in order to return from the current economic crisis and reach a pre-recession point, needs other nation’s economies to make a concurrent recovery. This necessitates Israeli prosperity, as it is a small but vital hub in the world economy.

Israel possesses enormous technological capital, and those “in the know” call the coastal plain of Israel, where most of the population lives, second only to Silicon Valley in the amount of technical expertise and equipment it contains. In fact, as a brief example, much of the electronics contained within every iPhone was researched, and is manufactured, within Israel. If Israel is not supported during this time of crisis, and something were to cripple the nations, the world economy would not only crash to what might even be depression levels, but it would take many years before the world could find a new source for much of the services Israel provides.

Most importantly, Israel possesses something that no other nation can. For Jews around the world, this object grows in value exponentially, in proportion to the severity of problems humanity faces. This object is sanctuary. If one even skims through history, a strong trend will be noticed. The inevitability of scapegoating.

More specifically, the inevitability of using Jews as the scapegoat. Whether one looks at the Black Plague, the Great Depression, or even the failure of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, the Jewish people are often determined to be the cause, and an outburst of popular anger directs itself against our people. Whether this “merely” results in riots, or progresses to expulsion or even genocide, this has been a constant feature of Jewish life for two millennia.

The current crises facing the world might get worse, they might get better, but the future is shrouded from view. The past is all one can see, yet the past tells a story, with one of close connection between Jewish persecution and community crisis. Whether or not this will happen is besides the point. The point is that it might happen. That is more than enough to reason to worry, and more than enough reason to look for a potential solution, if the worst were to occur.

Luckily, this problem already has an answer, an entity that was created for this very purpose. The State of Israel is a militarily strong, powerful state, ready to accept any and all Jews who need, or want to come. It is a sanctuary that is founded on the basis of shelter and provision for those Jews in need. In this time, the winds of change are blowing, and who knows where it will lead? Israel is more important than ever, as insurance and shield against what has happened to so many of us, millennia after millennia.

Israel is not still important in spite of the world’s issues but is rendered more important because of them. Israel stands for Jews around the world, so commonly persecuted in any time of societal stress, it provides the economic foundation necessary for a return to economic normalcy, and it might provide the direct solution to one of the largest of the world’s issues, coronavirus. The least one can do is stand with Israel, not only because it is just and fair to do so, but because in terms of self-interest, in terms of pragmatism, and in terms of self-protection, it is practically necessary to do so.


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About the Author

Jason Blau
Jason Blau is from South Jersey, just east of Philadelphia. He enjoys history, philosophy, sociology, and engaging in passionate debates about these subjects. While he has a lot of interests, Israel is of particular importance to him. Jason credits his Jewish identity and travels with inspiring his love of Israel, but that was not difficult given the country’s amazing historical richness and fascinating culture. On a more personal note, he likes sushi, animals, and the color blue - just a pretty normal guy from South Jersey.

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Tags: Jewish Identity, Antisemitism, Diaspora, Advocacy