America and Israel

Garden Serf on Twitter posted this on his blog. It’s something to think about and something you need to read.

Here’s something else to think about.

My father joined the merchant marines after he got out of the army. He was on one of the ships that transported refugees from the concentration camps to America. He talked about one survivor who had been a very well known, if not famous architect before the war. This man was quiet, very reserved and cultured. Dad struck up a friendship with him and learned he had lost his entire family in the camps. Everyone he loved was gone and not only gone, but lost in the most horrific way. One morning, as they were nearing America, he took off his coat and folded it very neatly before placing it on the deck. Then he took off his shoes and placed them on the coat. On top of the shoes, he set his hat.

Then he jumped overboard to his death.

I’ve thought about this often. To go through so much. To survive and then calmly and methodically commit suicide. I suppose the thought of living out the rest of his days without his family was just too much to bear. I’m sure he thought many times he would have gladly traded his life if his wife, one of his children or his parents had lived.

Dad said there were a lot of suicides on the way over. The people had the will to live through the horror, but couldn’t live through the freedom.

Those who did make it, however, all had one thing in common. They had a desire to live in America more than anything else on earth.

He said when they were nearing America they kept asking when they would arrive, I suppose like an excited child on a trip. Are we there yet?

When they realized they would see America the next day, invariably, they stayed on the deck all night long. Most of them couldn’t sleep. They crowded at the rails and waited for dawn. Then, when they first glimpsed the Statue of Liberty, they fell to their knees weeping and thanking God for deliverance.

They knew America was the promised land for them.

Perhaps their descendants have grown nonchalant about what this country meant to their parents or grandparents when they arrived. Maybe they, like many of us, take what America is for granted. I like to think there are some who have heard the stories and understand the wonder of seeing a speck in the distance and knowing it is the promise of freedom.

I think there is a bond between Israel and America. It goes beyond the bond we might share with some other countries. If is doesn’t it should. This was a time when people came to America because they wanted to live here and raise their families. They wanted to work and become productive members of society. They didn’t come here for the welfare state.

I don’t normally get involved in politics on this blog because it’s just not wise to do for an aspiring writer. However, I am breaking my rule this time.

On March 26, the Times Online posted this article about the recent visit of Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, which is mentioned in Garden Serf’s post.

Mr. Obama was happy, however, to greet a vicious dictator with open arms and pose for the many photo ops.

It seems we have our priorities confused. It’s bad enough not to appear with a head of state, a traditional ally of the United States in an area of the world where we don’t have many, but to get up from a meeting so he can go have dinner with his family is beyond rude. It’s unbecoming anyone with courtesy, let alone the president of the United States.

Perhaps this strikes me more because I am from the South. If someone is visiting and it’s even close to a meal time, the hosts beg the visitors to stay and eat. It’s not only lip service, but it’s a sincere invitation.

PM Netanyahu didn’t just drop in for a visit. This was a planned diplomatic visit and yet no arrangements had been made for a meal or an official welcome even from an administration that will party and hold dinners at the drop of a hat.

As an American, I was mortified that an ally would be treated in such a churlish manner, but perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, in a time when we have soaring unemployment we promised a Hamas led government nearly a billion dollars in aid. A billion dollars we will have to borrow to give away.

Even so, it was just a dinner and an official snub that has seriously jeopardized our relations with Israel and sent a message to the enemies surrounding them they may no longer be able to depend on America to help them if they are attacked on a large scale. Make no mistake, they are attacked daily, but they may be getting much closer to war. Will we be there for an ally or will we turn our back like we did before?


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