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The platitudes are heartfelt, no doubt, but actions speak louder than words as Israel turns 64.
At a Columbus Day celebration, a visiting member of Congress stood up and gave a speech, as is typical of Columbus Day events throughout the land. In the middle of his remarks he paused and delivered the line that got the most energetic response from the crowd: "I fully support Italy's right to exist!"
Earlier that year in July this same lawmaker was speaking at the Can-Am Canada Day picnic and stated unequivocally: "Canada has a right to defend herself as she sees fit!"
Meanwhile, at the Namaste celebration, this member of Congress took another courageous stand, affirming that "India has a right to safe and secure borders!"
As if that were not enough, at the Mardi Gras Samba Ball in the congressional district, this same legislator pounded on the podium and demanded: "The citizens of Brazil should not have to put up with hundreds or thousands of rockets fired at them from across the border!"
For Cinco de Mayo, there was the member of Congress yet again, this time noting: "We must stand up and oppose those who call for Mexico to be wiped off the map!"
Of course, all of these pronouncements are from a mythical lawmaker, because no lawmaker would make such statements. They would sound beyond silly, with the audience looking on in bewilderment.
Yet there is one nation about whom such statements are said routinely with great seriousness and fervor --as if there is still some doubt.
That nation, of course, is Israel.
As Israel marks its 64th anniversary (on the Julian calendar) today, it seems to be not only still waging its war of independence, but continues to need to prove its right to exist -- or have well-meaning others do it. Many feel compelled to state what should be obvious: that it has a right to defend itself, protect its citizens and have safe and secure borders and the same qualities and characteristics that every other nation recognized by the United Nations takes for granted.
Yet little Israel does not. From the day after its re-birth, when the Arab neighbors that surround it tried to make it a still-birth (in vain, thank G-d) to the latest rocket attack by Palestinian-Arabs from the Gaza Strip just last week, to countless condemnations in the U.N. and other-related bodies, to boycott and divestment campaigns intended to weaken or cripple it, Israel survives and thrives.
It was not the future that an overly optimistic David Ben-Gurion expected when he read Israel's Declaration of Independence on that glorious day. Who would have imagined that though President Harry S Truman recognized Israel just 11 minutes later, after all these years Israel and her supporters would still be trying to get an American president to recognize her capital -- Jerusalem.
Despite it all, Israel is an economic juggernaut. It is a science, medicine and technology innovator and leader. The nation is a hub of arts and culture. And of course, she is an island of democracy, freedom, human and civil rights in an abyss of persecution, oppression, jihads and barbarism.
So perhaps it is time for well-wishers to put away the platitudes about recognizing a nation that is well past middle-age (in human terms) and instead make the statements -- and better yet, take the actions that demonstrate -- a real desire to have an Israel like the other 192 that make up the family of nations.
Every other country gets to determine where its capital is, and every nation it has relations with locates its embassy in that city. The U.S. and other nations need to move their embassies to Jerusalem. Now.
Nations that call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" must be defanged and rendered impotent from carrying out such threats. Meanwhile, entities that refuse to even depict Israel on their own official maps -- meaning the Palestinian Authority -- need to be defunded until their incitement ceases.
Entities that fire rockets at Israeli civilian populations need to be neutralized or eliminated, and those who facilitate their attacks need to be heavily sanctioned by the world.
Whatever borders result from peace negotiations must result in a secure and impregnable Israel. After incessant attacks for 64 years, the people of Israel deserve it. In the meantime, Israel must have an unfettered right to respond to -- and even preempt -- those who do it harm. Whether "disproportionate" or not.
International bodies that "recognize" a Palestinian entity, allowing it to bypass negotiations with Israel should be defunded, as should NGOs and other groups that aid and abet efforts to weaken or harm Israel or help her enemies.
Those who profess to love Israel and care for her well-being need to take these matters to heart and demand the lawmakers and leaders in their respective countries act on these fundamental steps.
It comforts us all -- for a moment -- to hear pro-Israel sentiments from those who count, but actions speak louder than words.
We who want the best for Israel hope and pray that by the time her next anniversary arrives, the steps above are implemented and Israel is able to surpass its already great achievements in an era of real peace and security.
Steve Feldman is a journalist and serves as executive director of the Zionist Organization of America's Greater Philadelphia District.
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