The March on Washington D.C.
by Gad Nahshon
100,000 pro-Israel protesters marched on Washington, April 15, 2002, a day to remember! Suddenly, American Jews joined, in rare unity, forming a 'new rainbow coalition.' But all of the colors were reduced to blue and white, white and blue. What a picture. Jews took to their hand the right of crying out against silence. They did not come to attack the Bush administration, a pro-Israel one. They came to protest against the silence of the American Jewry, to express solidarity with Israel. Suddenly they, 100,000 marchers, stated: "We are your brothers and sisters under the skin." Let us not forget that for 18 months, Jews kept silent. Even after the massacre of young girls, olim from Russia - in Tel Aviv, Jews were quiet.
Furthermore, in the Jewish media we came across many attacks on Israel's behavior. The last twenty years Jews here moved from 'defensive posture' to an 'offensive one.' In Jewish literature, in many discussions, Israel was treated as a marginal Jewish issue. The Holocaust Industry took over. Yom Hashoa, suddenly, became more important than Israel's Independence Day.
Israel has suffered here from ever growing attacks on its will to survive. Many American Jews told Israel what to do and what not to do. They defended the rights of Palestinian people and preached morality to the Israelis. Jews dismantle old 'taboos' and their sense of responsibility to guarantee Israel's survival. Often the Jewish establishment expressed apathy, indifference as to the needs of Israel. Sociologists pointed out as to the erosion in Israel's prestige and priority inside the American Jewish community. The Israeli official machine has failed to counter this trend of erosion, on a verge of collapse. It starts to look as if Israel turns out to be a 'liability,' a burden on the backs of the Jews here. And when we ask them about the UJA Federation's donations, they confess that only 33% are being transferred to the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. Some say: "You should blame Yossi Beilin." Beilin said, in 1994, that Israel is not a 'beggar' (shnur'er, in Yiddish).
Today we understand the need of Israel to get support from the UJA Federation. In 1980, for example, 66% of the money was transferred to Israel. Israel now needs an extra 10 million shekels ($2.5 millions) for its annual budget to cover the enormous cost of the last war. Jews all over the world should launch a drive to help Israel to cope with this new military cost. We should repeat the success of the famous drive of 'Exodus' campaign for Russian Jewry. We need a campaign to re-enforce Israel as a Jewish state and also, as the defender of democracy in the belly of the Arab-Muslim world which tends to espouse Muslim fundamentalism, Muslim radicalization and Muslim terrorism, as well. Israel must be cherished, by Jews and Gentiles alike, because of its devotion to the progress of humanity while its enemies support regressive powers in the Middle East.
From this point of view one should praise the organizers of the 'March of Washington.' One should praise Bibi Netanyahu who came to urge Jews to show their solidarity with Israel. Netanyahu, who represented Arik Sharon, came as a 'Red Light' and helped to break the terrible silence, the dangerous apathy, the terrible vacuum which was used to smear Israel. This march countered the rise of anti-Israeli Jewish camps which pretend to bring true peace to the Middle East. The march helped to counter the P.L.O. propaganda, to counter its allies in this country.
But it is important that the march be used as a turning point. The march should be used to build a new pro-Israeli effective infrastructure. We must build a new pro-Israeli camp using the new rainbow coalition, the new Jewish consensus in America. Therefore, the message of this march of 100,000 Jews is the fact that Jews established, inside the American Jewish community, a new pro-Israeli consensus, a new union of solidarity with Israel and its heroes, the people, the Israeli ordinary man or woman, who were attacked daily by cannibals who defined themselves as 'Freedom Fighters.'
And the administration will draw its conclusion. The media will draw its conclusions: Those who attacked Israel, those hypocrites, those Jews who care about the P.L.O., do not represent us, they are a small minority which serve not the peace process, but rather the needs of the biased anti-Israeli electronic media. This minority today also serves indirectly the needs of the anti-Semites all over the world. First, attack and destroy Israel; second, attack and destroy the Jews. Only a blind person can ignore this linkage! Let's hope that the march on Washington will be a turning point. Let's hope it will mobilize new support, new energies for the re-enforcement of the survival of Israel. After 18 months of silence, one can see the light in the Jewish tunnel in America. We should praise the organizers. The Conference of Major Organizations, its executive director, Malcolm Hoenlein, and the United Jewish Communities, to mention a few. It was organized in four days!
Many Jews did not march because it took place on Monday. On Sunday we could have seen a crowd of about 200,000. But it was a Monday to remember. They poured in, they came in cars, planes and buses, they stood in a sunny day to express their love affair with Israel and its suffering people. The lesson is clear: never be silent when Jews are being attacked, harassed, murdered, victimized in pogroms or wars! Never again! To hell with 'quiet diplomacy,' to hell with 'sha sha Jews,' to hell with 'defeatist policies,' to hell with those Holocaust leaders who were afraid to march on Washington when Jews are doomed to die.
The Holocaust is a great industry in America. It is also an educational issue. I was also happy to learn that the many demonstrators who came to Washington, D.C. on April 15, 2002, were also somehow motivated by their intensive communal Holocaust education. For us the message of this education should be clear: Do anything you can in order to guarantee the well being and the survival of Israel, the only Jewish state. Only the future will tell us if this event was just a short episode or a real turning point which will stop the process of erosion of Israel's place in the hearts of the American Jew and his offspring as well.
I also believe that this 'march' symbolized our unity with Jews who were attacked by anti-Semites from left and right, French ones or German ones, or Belgium ones. Jews who came to Washington protested against those enemies of the Jewish people. The burning of a synagogue in Paris also motivated them to come and express solidarity with other Jews. Israel is the country which unites all the Jews because olim made aliyah from all the countries in which Jews lived. Solidarity with Israel always indirectly also means solidarity with all of the Jews in our globe. That is the uniqueness of Israel. This is its centrality in the Jewish world.
From all of the vantage points, April 15th was a great day in the annals of the American Jewish community, a 'day of unity,' a 'day of Jewish brotherhood,' a 'day of solidarity with Israel,' a 'day of solidarity with other Jews in Europe or Tunisia who were prosecuted.' They have tried to eliminate us from this globe. They have tried to murder us, to poison us, to destroy us by all kinds of final solutions. But we, the ancient people, the Hebrew, the Jews, we have survived. We are like a marathon runner, long in breath. We are a marathon nation running for eternity.
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