I’m never quite sure what people mean when they declare their love for Israel. I mean, as a citizen of Israel, which makes me part of the whole thing called Israel, I love that people love Israel, and by extension, me! Who wouldn’t?
What does it mean to love Israel? It means that you love Israel, not your idea of Israel.
I can write a long list of what there is to love about Israel. But that, in the end, is “fish love.” I’m stealing from a You Tube video by Rabbi Twersky. He tells a story about a Rabbi who sees a guy eating a meal made from fish. He asks the guy “Why are you eating that?” The guy replies “Because I love fish.” “Really?”, the Rabbi says, “You love fish so much that you took it out of the water, killed it, boiled it and then ate it?” The point of the story was that what the guy loved was what the fish did for him.
Love is sacrifice and love is giving.
Saying kaddish for a Hamas soldier isn’t an expression of love. It’s an expression of selfishness. You removed your love for your people because the news portrayed the events in Gaza with a narrative that didn’t let you feel good. Who would feel good about people dying? But you didn’t love Israel because you didn’t look further then how it was presented. You wanted to feel righteous. That’s fish love.
Even those that profess their love for Israel loudly often do so because, you know, fish! Israel can make you feel strong in a world infected with Jew hatred. But sometimes we lose the battle. Sometime, the party you like will not be elected. What if we decide to compromise? You don’t have to like it, but will you still love us?
To love Israel is to put away the rose colored lenses. It requires seeing her as is and not through the lens of life as you know it in America, Europe, Australia or any place on earth you might live. Loving Israel is giving her hope and understanding. That’s a gift. As Rabbi Twersky says, you don’t give to those you love but rather you love those to whom you give.