When I hear that Jews are too powerful, my response is, we are not powerful enough. When I hear that AIPAC is too influential a lobby, I say it must become even more influential. When I hear that Jews contribute too much money to support pro-Israel causes, I say we must contribute more.
When I hear that Jews control the media, I ask “Why is so much of the media so anti-Israel?” When I hear that Jews have too much influence on the outcome of elections, I say we need to increase our influence.
Jews have contributed enormously – disproportionately – to America’s success. Along with other immigrants, Jews have helped change our country for the better – academically, scientifically, economically, politically, militarily, medically, legally, technologically, and in so many other ways.
We have earned the right to act as first-class citizens. No other group is ever accused of having too much power and influence. That false claim – dating back to times and places where Jews had little or no influence – is an anti-Semitic trope that tells us more about the anti-Semites who invoke it than it does about Jews.
History has proven that Jews need more power and influence than other groups to secure their safety. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Jews had morality on their side, but they lacked the power and influence to save six million of their brothers and sisters from systematic murder.
If Israel had existed, with the powerful army it now has, the history of European Jewry might well have been different. If Jews had more political power in the United States during that time, the doors of our nation would not have been shut to our brothers and sisters seeking asylum from Nazism.
In the Middle East, Israel must have more military power than all of its enemies and potential enemies combined. As Benjamin Netanyahu wisely put it: “If our enemies lay down their arms, there would be peace. If Israel lay down its arms, there would be genocide.”
So Israel must maintain, with or without the help of the United States, its qualitative military superiority in the region. And the region of its enemies has now expanded to Iran and Turkey, two non-Arab Muslim extreme anti-Israel nations with powerful armies. So Israel must get stronger, not weaker, despite its current military superiority.
Elie Wiesel once said that the lesson of the Shoah is: “We must believe the threats of our enemies more than the promises of our friends.” For me, an additional lesson is that Israel and the Jewish people must be more powerful than their enemies.
The Psalmists wrote, “Hashem oz l’amo yiten; Hashem yivarech et amo b’shalom.” I interpret this wonderful verse to mean that G-d will give the Jewish people strength, and only through that strength will they achieve peace.
So if anybody ever complains about Jewish power and influence, remind that person that Jewish power is the best road to peace: that history has proven that Jews without power are vulnerable to the oldest prejudice known to human kind – a prejudice that may abate, as it did for several decades following the Second World War, but will always rears its ugly head as it is now doing in England, France, Eastern Europe, and on the hard left in the United States.
If Jewish power and influence are used in the cause of peace and justice, we should not be ashamed of it. It should be a source of pride.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Jewish Press