Support does not give right to criticise

By Samuel Hayek, November 18, 2010

Diaspora Jews are in a difficult position. On the one hand, we want to see Israel thrive, and as such offer our support in whatever way we can. On the other hand, some obviously feel that such support gives us the right to criticise Israel. This is a fine tightrope to walk and an arrogant view to take.

My position is clear: I believe diaspora Jews should never criticise Israel, and that the mitzvah of giving is best done without attaching conditions. Anglo-Jewry should be proud of its immense support given to Israel over the past 62 years. But we should always acknowledge that it is the people of Israel, not those in the diaspora, who live through the daily challenges of survival.

Those who think Israel does not recognise that its actions have an impact on Jews around the world are looking at the situation with their eyes shut. Of course Israel realises this.

As diaspora Jews, the real question we should ask is whether this should be the (or even a) determining factor when Israel's government take the daily decisions which define Israel's very existence. To me, it is blatantly obvious this should not be the case.

On July 5 1950, the Knesset enacted the Law of Return giving every Jew the right to citizenship in Israel. If diaspora Jews want to criticise Israel legitimately, there is one simple solution: make aliyah and express your views at the ballot box.

Earlier this year, the former Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar, wrote an article entitled "If Israel goes down, we all go down," in which he argued: "Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined." I believe Mr Aznar is right: if Israel disappears, so will the Jewish community around the world.

There is only one Israel, and our support and love for her is unconditional and vital. Since 1901, JNF has always supported Israel. In the pre-state decades, JNF bought the land itself with donations made through the iconic Blue Box. Since 1948, JNF has put the infrastructure in place on which Israeli society now rests. Today we are urging the community to join us once again in laying the foundations for Israel's future.

There will no doubt be times when we will question certain policies, certain personalities, or certain priorities. But ultimately this is neither a right nor a pre-determining factor that should prevent us from giving Israel the support it so desperately needs and deserves.

Samuel Hayek is chairman of JNF UK

Last updated: 3:50pm, November 18 2010