It’s that time of year again. Our Washington Summit is fast approaching. It seems that every year at this time we’re seized by the feeling that our upcoming summit will not only be important, but that it will be the most important one yet. And every year so far this has been the case. Now, with less than a month to go until July 20th, all of us feel strongly that Israel is facing greater challenges than ever before. If you’ve been following the news, I know that you agree.
Hezbollah, on Israel’s northern border, has stockpiled an estimated 42,000 missiles, many of which can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And history shows that Hezbollah will not hesitate to fire what missiles they have. Hamas, on Israel’s southern border, has never ceased to smuggle and build its own arsenal of missiles. Hamas missiles can reach all of Israel’s southern cities, and we know that they will likewise not hesitate to use them. And, over the horizon, is Iran. Iran now has enough enriched uranium for at least two nuclear weapons. A nation that has vowed to wipe Israel off the map will soon have the means to do so.
All of this sobering. Yet none of this is new. Israel faced this evil threesome last year, and the year before. So why is this year different? Why is it more urgent than ever that we make a strong statement in DC? Well this year, for the first time, we’re not only worried about Israel’s enemies. This year, we’re also worried about Israel’s friends.
Over the weekend, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, gave a troubling assessment of the administration’s policy towards Israel. According to the paper, “Oren noted that contrary to Obama’s predecessors – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – the current president is not motivated by historical-ideological sentiments toward Israel but by cold interests and considerations.”
Ambassador Oren has since denied making these comments. But spoken or not, they capture the emerging consensus about this administration’s attitude towards Israel. The warmth of past presidents is not in evidence. The “special relationship” seems to have been downgraded. There often appears to be a greater focus on the size and wealth and threats of the Muslim world than there is on the kinship, justice and promise of the Jewish State.
This change in attitude has manifested itself in a more ambivalent approach towards Israel. The United States has been slower to defend Israel – and our defenses more tepid – than ever before. We have allowed one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel to pass the United Nations. And — intentionally or not – we’re sending a signal to Israel’s enemies that there is daylight between Israel and the United States. Given the nature of Israel’s enemies, this is a most dangerous signal to send.
In past years, the greatest challenges to Israel were strategic ones in the Middle East. We could come to Washington to request that the United States support Israel – and it was crucial that we did so — but the real action was largely half-a-world away. This year is different. This year, the challenge is closer to home. We need to remind our administration and our Congress that most Americans believe quite strongly that we have a “special relationship” with Israel, and we expect our leaders to honor it. We need to affirm that Americans want principle to inform our foreign policy every bit as much as power. We must reiterate that Israel’s cause is just and that Israel’s enemies are, in fact, our own.
If the problem we face today is here in Washington, then the ball is in our court. This is a problem that we, not the Israelis, must confront.
We know how busy everyone is. And we know that the trip to DC is an expensive one. For some of you, attending the summit is simply not an option. But if joining us is an option, we ask that you prayerfully consider doing so. It was for such a time as this that CUFI was created. Now is the time to act. And Washington is the place where our actions can have the greatest impact. Please click here for more information and to register for our 2010 Washington Summit.
David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel. David’s new book, In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity is being published July 6th. You can follow David on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.