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by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager


"And Moses stood at the gate of the camp and said: Who to (on the side of) God come to me. And all the sons of Levi gathered to him..." Exodus 32:26

Apparently, it is raining very hard in Israel, and after years of drought, the first signs of awakening can be felt: Individuals are doing what the Israeli Government should do but does not. This should by no means be construed as a political statement. No Israeli Government to-date has fathomed the risks of continuing the status quo in the realm of Public Diplomacy. It is because of blindness in this arena, individual initiatives stand out as unusual and refreshing.

First a reservist Israeli Colonel who commands some 20,000 soldiers came to the battlefront on campuses and throughout communities in the USA. Next a reserve sergeant with an impressive command of the English language, due to having been born and raised in the town of Leeds in the UK, provides a benefit when he, too, speaks at schools and university campuses across America. Both have made it a life mission to give the soldier's first hand account and dispel some of the numerous mistruths leveled against Israel.

The Sergeant talked about having his men, boys not older than 18 or 19, form a line and move forward as one when under fire. While every instinct tells them to take cover, lower their heads and let the storm pass, it is his mission to galvanize in them a soldier's resolve. It is then a hero's will surfaces and manifests itself, as the young men defend their homeland, at times at a cost to their limbs, eyesight, health, youth and life.

Straightening the line should manifest, he urges, not only on the battlefield in Lebanon or Gaza. It should happen right here in the USA among the Jewish communities. For the past two years he has spoken throughout the USA and believes we need to unite and straighten our lines. Jewish people and Israel are under attack, yet we suffer from apathy.

We lower our heads hoping that someone else will stand up to the task, reply, write, speak, correct or provide true information. Only an observer can clearly tell that head after head is being lowered in acceptance, apathy, misguided passion or defeat. Thus, we are covered with a cloud of anti-Semitism the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes and there is seemingly no one to fight.

Be inspired by Israel he says, your fortunes are tied with hers. Be proud of Israel, not despondent. Throughout history Jews suffered, but now we have a homeland, strong, viable, unimaginable and worthy of our protection.

In his opinion, there is more that unites us, although after speaking on campuses he is clear the Muslims speak in one voice, with one narrative, and are therefore more powerful. We, on the other hand, are fragmented to the point where our position suffers. The Sergeant urges us to learn from the enemy. The enemy's work is so visibly effective; at times we start to question the validity of our own positions.

I have often witnessed the Muslim talent for speaking with one voice. It was noticeable in Acre, a city where Jews have lived side-by-side Arabs for decades. An attempt to disrupt the fragile co-existence and ignite unrest took place when young Muslims were brought to the city in busloads and calmly, in a most organized manner, smashed cars of Jews, sparing those of the Arabs.

In Egypt, God spared the firstborns of His people and to this very day we have a Mezuzah at the entrance of every Jewish home. In Acre, the Muslims spared the cars of the Arabs, simply because it helped their cause; if there were a benefit to smashing them as well, they would not have hesitated.

The Sergeant and the Colonel are two examples of what is clearly lacking from Israel — public diplomacy. Neither is sponsored by the Israel Defense Forces or by any Government agency. Neither is monetarily compensated for his efforts nor requesting funding. Both pave the way for what needs to be done, 24/7, in a systematic and coordinated effort. How much more effective would such speaking tours be if they were coordinated and reached even greater audiences?

When a government fails, citizens take action, trying to fill in the void. Here the failure is on the Public Diplomacy Front. What the two men have indicated by their speaking tours is that the USA is a battleground. They, who have put their lives on the front lines in Lebanon, Gaza and Judea and Samaria, understand the need to fight once again where it counts most — right in our own living rooms, thousands of miles away from Israel.

At the same time, those whose responsibility it is to act, the Israeli Government and all its branches — from the Foreign Ministry and its local representatives, the Ambassador, Consul General and numerous other consuls and staff, to the IDF via its Spokesperson Unit, to numerous other Government Offices and Ministries — do exactly what?

At a recent event which highlighted heroism in the battlefield, I was treated to a lecture on how busy the Consulate staff is — running from one VIP dinner to the next gala event. Our very-well-paid public servants do little to dirty their hands. They approach their job diplomatically, socially, but the time for these niceties has long past. Some would say leaving their responsibilities to a sergeant or colonel, to individual initiatives, to those who understand what is at stake and are willing to sacrifice everything they have, once again, is nothing short of dereliction of duty.

While one is providing well-rehearsed excuses, the other does the actual work on Israel's behalf. The latter finds the courage, will and conviction that drive him to this one last mission. They, after all, have already paid the price, yet they don't hesitate to throw themselves once again onto the battle line.

Israeli diplomats' participation at glitzy events apparently has not yielded the necessary results. A change of direction is necessary since the present course proved ineffective in countering the disease of the 21st Century: undermining the legitimacy of the existence of the Jewish State.

Business as usual means providing excuses or giving a passing grade for failure. It results in a Goldstone Report and soon after in another.

One needs no further explanation — spend your time doing something more than providing poignant lethargies of being over-worked and underpaid. We would be content, instead, with facts on the ground, with evidence of action, with some results.

No one expects miracles, change after more than six decades of negligence will not happen over night. But a different type of miracle will be useful — change tactics, take charge, lead by example. Show passion and simply act, and you will earn our respect. Having diplomats arrive for a few minutes as guests of honor for a photo-op or short remarks might be warranted, but its utility is minimal to the cause. Utilizing your contacts and power, as representatives of this tiny country called Israel, for her defense, is what we expect from you.

We are told by a Sergeant and a Colonel to "be inspired by Israel." We are indeed inspired by a country that raises citizens willing to give so much only because they believe, only because they realize what is at stake.

So said God the Almighty: "For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you to your land ... and I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will instill inside you. And I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh. And My Spirit I will give within you ..." Ezekiel 36:24..27

In the series "Postcards from Israel," Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel's on the ground, Zager's counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related — the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts — and so is this "point-counter-point" presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.

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