David Frum

01.14.13

'Why I'm a Zionist'

Welsh writer and friend of the blog Tom Doran's fine essay at Jewish Journal explains his journey to Zionism.

Countless events combined to furnish me with a different, truer picture of the Jewish state. The flotilla incident of 2010 was another. While I initially jerked my knee and condemned the raid as barbaric, I was then struck by the curious nature of the international response. Certain details had a way of going missing on their way into print: the flotilla’s ties to Hamas and other Nazis-in-keffiyeh; how the “victims” were armed with iron bars and knives; the legality and original purpose of the blockade itself. My initial overreaction caused me to question my own motives. Was I really giving Israel a fair hearing?

Then, the more I learned about Israel proper (as opposed to the West Bank), the more I liked. In late 2010, former president Moshe Katsav was found guilty of rape by a panel of three judges that consisted of two women and an Israeli Arab. Can we imagine the equivalent happening in any Arab country? Can we, in fact, imagine it happening in most Western countries, given that Richard Nixon enjoyed a rich twilight as an elder statesman? These are not the actions of a fascist state. Nor is the high level of tolerance and acceptance extended to the LGBT community. Nor is the incredible explosion of science and technology Israel has husbanded. Nor are a hundred other things, great and small.

In recent years, the single greatest factor leading me to solidarity with Israel has been the threat of a nuclear Iran. Having studied the Nazi period, in a piecemeal and amateurish fashion, it is difficult not to be sensitive to inaction and complacency from the enlightened West when faced with eliminationist Jew-hatred. Here is a regime that openly compares Israel to a cancer while almost-openly seeking nuclear weapons, just one of which could kill millions if detonated over Tel Aviv. Yet the reaction of many left-wing commentators is to make excuses for the Mullahs as cravenly as they can. This is the subject of another essay, but suffice it to say that the failure of the democratic world to stop the Shoah is our deepest shame as a civilization. If we allowed a second Shoah, it would be beyond shame. Beyond words, even. We could never hold up our heads again.