From Manhattan to Nashville: An Israeli’s Unexpected American Odyssey

From Manhattan to Nashville: An Israeli’s Unexpected American Odyssey

The portrayal of the United States on Israeli TV screens, teeming with campus protests and anti-Israel sentiment, belies the “true America” I encountered on my recent visit. The chasm between the vocal minority and the silent majority is growing ever wider, steering the discourse in favor of the majority. With only a few months left until the November elections, I returned from an enlightening journey and an optimistic visit to our closest ally.

In the Democratic stronghold of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the atmosphere is grand, cosmopolitan, and straightforward. In the “city that never sleeps,” one encounters a kaleidoscope of colors, people, and divergent opinions on every conceivable topic. Intellectual liberalism and a willingness to engage in dialogue seem to flourish, but there’s a striking reluctance to entertain opposing viewpoints. Verified facts, easily accessible with the push of a button, hold no interest for this enlightened crowd. “The IDF is committing genocide, starving an entire people, and murdering babies!” they proclaimed.

Engaging with progressive clichés, symbolized by purple hair and cappuccinos, I found no substantive discussion about the conflict in Israel. Instead, there was desperate finger-pointing and blame. It mirrored their Starbucks coffee—perfectly branded but mediocre in substance.

The accusations against Israel, though sharp and precise, rang hollow. The uncomfortable truth is inescapable: an anti-Semitic undertone permeates the air in Gotham. It has evolved beyond vacuous calls to end the occupation into a disturbing ignorance. Claims that “Israel is committing genocide” and “Israel is a colonialist imperialist that must be expelled from the Middle East” ignore the historical reality that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. The absurdity of these accusations, equating Jews with colonialists, lacks any sense of irony.

The crescendo of this misguided parade is the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This simplistic solution echoes the language of the “final solution,” a horrifying irony lost on them. Any attempt to counter historical facts risks being dismissed as another “Jewish conspiracy.”

Leaving the Upper West Side disheartened, I spent the Sabbath on the Upper East Side. Warm Jews, over cold beers, spoke openly about the decline of the golden age of American Jewry. “We have an apartment in Tel Aviv anyway,” they sighed. Many American Jews are looking toward the upcoming Presidential election with a mix of fear and hope. “Yes, we’ve been traditional Democrats, but there’s no choice this time. We’ll vote for Trump, loud and clear. We’ve been Democrats for as long as we can remember, but first and foremost, we are Jews!”

For American Jews today, it’s no longer possible to turn the other cheek to the agitation and violence from the Left. Biden’s withholding of weapons from Israel marked a red line. Hesitation has given way to resolve.

From New York City, I journeyed to Washington, the capital of the United States. Despite gray skies, the White House stood tall, and the mood was surprisingly optimistic. The stark contrast between the urgent headlines from Israel and the warm embrace from congressmen and senators was striking.

Political promises should always be taken with a grain of salt, but in closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill, the conversations felt open and sincere. Even a hardened and cynical Israeli like me could sense the genuine support for Israel in America’s capital.

In DC, a kosher restaurant serves as a gathering spot for Jewish locals and visitors. Their flagship dish, a giant hamburger, was a challenge for an Israeli who is used to smaller portions. Sharing this meal with a senior Republican advisor, a man with a perpetual smile and a keen understanding of Israeli politics, was enlightening. He compared Israel’s current awakening to the post-September 11th reality in America. His eyes sparkled with determination as he emphasized, “We are with you. This administration is disconnected from real America. President Biden’s submission to Iran is troubling and incomprehensible. Soon, a new sheriff will return to restore order.” He graciously drove me to Reagan International Airport for my next destination.

In Nashville, TN, I encountered the “real America” without pretense. The country music was foreign to my Israeli ears, but my purpose was to attend a conference of Evangelical Christians supporting Israel. Thousands of Americans, emotionally moved and applauding Shiloh, Hebron, Jerusalem, and every mention of an Israeli city in the Biblical Heartland, touched my heart deeply. Cowboy-hat-wearing attendees warmly grabbed my hands, asking if my name was that of the ancient Hebrew prophet Haggai.

On stage, among renowned pro-Israel speakers, stood the rising star of Israeli politics, Member of Knesset Ohad Tal. His speech, rich with Torah references, captivated the Bible-believing audience. He invoked Isaiah’s prophecy, “And the wolf will lie with the lamb,” offering a Middle Eastern interpretation: “The wolf will only lie with the lamb if Israel becomes the wolf. If Israel becomes the lamb, and our enemies the wolves, the events of October 7th will repeat, and the wolf will devour the lamb.”

The applause from thousands of Americans in the Bible Belt was resounding. More importantly, we hope the speech’s content reaches decision-makers. If not, Israelis can only look with optimism toward a potential change in American leadership this November.

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