More than 50 years ago, David Ben Gurion, one of the most
prominent of the early founders of the State of Israel, often
referred to the Biblical roots of the Jewish people and their
claim to the Land of Israel. Ben Gurion himself, although
markedly anti-religious, was an avid Bible student, though he
studied it using rules of his own making.
President Truman, who gave recognition and support at early
stages, did not respond to the issues of the founding of the
State of Israel solely in terms of the short-term interests
of the United States. He was at least in part influenced by
his perception of the historic position and role of the
The support that the Jewish People and the Jewish State
enjoyed in those days had a strong element of ideology.
Companies defied the Arab boycott only when they were
buttressed by the moral power of the fight against injustice.
Institutions bought Israeli bonds and gave political support
because they were inspired by the cause and/or driven by a
sense of guilt.
All that is gone.
Two very large American companies were recently threatened
with Arab pressure. The Israeli owner of the Burger King
franchise opened a branch in Maale Adumim. Though that town
is built on territory that was once under exclusive Arab
control, as a small town of almost 30,000 inhabitants that
was established some 25 years ago, it can hardly be said to
be at the cutting edge of current controversy. Yet the
American headquarters of the international fast food chain
reacted very quickly when Arabs threatened a worldwide
boycott. They declared that they fervently wanted to stay out
of political controversies and just wanted to be left alone
to make money.
Another American consumer-oriented giant company reacted
almost the same way. At its very popular Disney World park in
Florida, the company recently opened a special 15 month
exhibit including pavilions from 26 nations including Israel,
Morocco and Saudi Arabia, were partially funded by the
countries themselves. The Israeli exhibit includes references
to Jerusalem but, when Arab groups threatened action, Disney
quickly removed any references to Jerusalem as capital of the
State of Israel.
A Disney World spokesman explained, "We're an entertainment
company, and we have never tried to enter into a political
debate or take sides. We just want our guests to have a good
time." And, last but certainly not least, Disney wants to
make a lot of money worldwide, and to leave ideology out.
The situation is no better with regard to the statesmen and
politicians involved. The current American leader, it seems,
whatever his weaknesses and strengths, cannot look at
anything unfiltered by the prism of his own personal
interests. Israeli leaders are much better versed in Western
literature than in Jewish literature.
In fact, the Israeli elite, as is clear in its most prominent
self-appointed representative, the High Court, is suppressing
and weakening its links to Jewish tradition at every
We know that this is a course that leads to disaster, and
certainly hope that it will be corrected before it is too