In this speech on the Jewish new year directed at English-speaking Jews, Benjamin Netanyahu completely erases the difference between Jews and Israel. He begins by saying that the Jewish people always unite when they face challenges, like the ones “our country” experienced when “three of our teenagers” were kidnapped and murdered and rockets were fired at us and we lost many of our “bravest young men.” He does not mention the word “Israel” till the 60th word or so. So these are events that happened to Jews, not to a country in the Middle East.
My friends, As Jews celebrate the New Year around the world, we can take pride in all that unites us. The Jewish people indeed always unite when faced with great challenges, and the past year was no exception.
Over the past few months, three of our teenagers were kidnapped and brutally murdered, thousands of rockets were fired at our country and too many of our bravest young men and their families made the most painful of sacrifices in Operation Protective Edge.
There’s a reason Netanyahu says we’re a united community. Israel needs English-speaking Jews to maintain its international support. We built Israel together, he says, and are all committed to it:
Throughout all [the challenges], we witnessed tremendous support for Israel from Jewish communities everywhere…. As we celebrate Rosh Hashanah with our families and our friends, we should also celebrate the strength we derive from our commitment to one other…. The Jewish people are again sovereign and free in our own homeland. Together we’ve built a vibrant democracy, a robust economy, a global technological powerhouse.
As Scott Roth always says, this conflation of Israel and Jewry is anti-Semitic. If Israel is the Jewish people, then Jews can justly be blamed for what Israel does. But that’s wrong: the Jewish community is actually diverse, and includes anti-Zionists, who don’t believe in a Jewish nation occupying Palestinian lands.
In Netanyahu’s view, this dependence of Israel on Jews around the world is balanced by another dependence: we Diaspora Jews need Israel:
And at the same time, we in Israel know that it has been a difficult period for many of your Jewish communities. You face increasingly virulent and even violent anti-Semitism.
So on behalf of the people of Israel, I thank you for supporting our just campaign to defend ourselves; to provide the sustained peace and security that all Israelis deserve. And I assure you that we in Israel will continue to stand by your side as you confront hatred and intolerance. Jews everywhere must be able to live proudly and without fear.
Another contradiction. He says that Israel will benefit the “entire planet,” but at the same time he leaves out that portion of the entire planet that Israel lives in:
In the New Year, Israel will remain a beacon of freedom and human rights in an intolerant area; Israel will continue to be a source of innovation to the benefit of the entire planet
And just in case you’ve heard young Jews saying that they want no part of an Israel that just killed 2100 Palestinians for the same conflict-management purposes that it killed 1400 five years ago, to Netanyahu these young Jews don’t exist:
Israel will remain a source of pride and strength for Jews, no matter where they live and I have no doubt that the future of the Jewish people is one of hope and promise.