On September 9, I rented a car with two American Jewish friends and drove up through settlements in the central West Bank in an effort to taste the settler experience.
As we were leaving Shiloh, we picked up two young hitchhikers headed north– a guy who is about to enter the army and his girlfriend– and I turned on the video camera and asked them the question that plagues me:
If a young person you know will have to die to preserve Israel as a Jewish state, wouldn’t you rather just lose the Jewish state?
The young man’s answer begins a minute in. Among other things he says:
When we don’t have a Jewish country, it’s not one man die, it’s 6 million…
All the history for the Jewish is: We don’t have a country, they kill us. Now we have a country… If one man die, I have to remember, that 6 million died, and my grandfather come here and dream about it, to be in Israel… This is my place. Not Germany, not the United States… I am willing to kill for this country… I do this for the world, not just for Israel.
I apologize ahead of time for my performance in the video. I’m not nearly so poised as the young man, I don’t ask the question in the precise manner that I do above. I say that everyone in the car is a Jew; and I point to Allison Deger at the wheel and say that she’s my niece and it’s not worth her dying to preserve a Jewish state. That’s a misrepresentation: She’s not my niece, she’s my niece’s generation.
Nonetheless, the young man and I have a sincere exchange, on what I believe is a vital historical question that Americans should consider.
P.S. Our next stop was Ariel, where I asked a young Russian emigre bartender the same question: Look at all these young people in the bar, one may have to die to preserve the Jewish state, it’s not worth it. He said bluntly, But that is the reality. It’s a Jewish state, and it is going to defend that status. P.S. he is moving to Canada to start a business.