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Why Support Israel?

February 22, 2016

I recently asked a number of friends—and members of social-media groups—why they support Israel. The responses I received are as varied and diverse as the supporters themselves.

Israel supporters come in many shapes and forms, and are driven by a wide range of motivations.

Some are Jewish, and have family, historic, or spiritual connections to their ancestral homeland.

Some are Christians, and believe that the Land of Israel is divinely ordained to be the home of the Jewish people.

Some are social liberals, and appreciate Israel’s strong record of protecting minority rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights.

Some are national-security minded, and believe that a strong U.S. ally in the Middle East supports American strategic interests.

Some are progressives who admire Israel’s egalitarian society, universal healthcare, quality public education, and social safety net.

Some focus on our shared values of liberal democracy, with free and fair elections, a vibrant free press and independent judiciary, and freedom of religion, of speech, and of assembly.

Some appreciate Israel’s cultural pluralism and diversity, its multi-ethnic and multi-hued social mosaic.

Some connect with Israel’s struggle against terrorism and violence, while upholding civil liberties and the rule of law.

Some are business-oriented and admire Israel’s innovative spirit, resourcefulness, entrepreneurial zeal, and start-up acumen.

Some are environmentalists, who prize Israel’s leadership in renewable energy, water conservation, recycling wastewater, planting trees, and protecting wildlife.

Some marvel at the rebirth of an ancient nation, scattered for centuries but maintaining the dream of being reunited with their ancient homeland.

Some are inspired by the existence of a refuge for a long-persecuted people—from the ashes of the Holocaust and the ethnic cleansing in Arab and Muslim countries, to the gulags of the former Soviet Union, famine in Ethiopia, and modern-day European antisemitism.

Some value Israel’s support for victims of an earthquake in Haiti, a typhoon in the Philippines, lost hikers in Nepal, Arab refugees in Greece, Syrians injured in the civil war, and anywhere people are suffering.

Some love falafel and Israeli wines, Israeli beaches and nightlife, history and archeology, art and music, or its life-saving medical and scientific breakthroughs.

Some are awed by Israelis’ hopefulness and their commitment to create a better future for themselves and their children, to build a better society for their people, their region, and the world at large.

Some are excited about Israel’s high-tech culture, its research- and business-driven innovation.

Some are moved by Israelis’ warmth, solidarity, and strong community—connections to each other, to those around them, and even to complete strangers.

Some are impressed by the fact that members of Israeli ethnic and religious minority groups have more freedoms and more rights, better health and education, and better socioeconomic outcomes than the majorities in any of its neighboring countries.

Some appreciate Israel’s steadfast quest for peace, its willingness to compromise, extend a hand, and take risks in the hope of reaching a lasting peace in a turbulent neighborhood.

Some admire the authenticity, spunk, vitality, creativity, energy, and spontaneity of the Israeli people.

Some have spent time in Israel, and know that the country and its people bear no resemblance to the macabre caricature that it sometimes is portrayed to be.

Some simply respect the right of all peoples, including the Jewish people, to self-determination and self-defense.

And some just say, “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

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Also published at The Times of Israel on February 25, 2016

As always, I look forward to your feedback: comments are welcome and actively solicited. If you have anything to add to the list above, please let me know!

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