A Powerful Journey, An Essential Dream
by John Kerry
My first trip to Israel made real for me all I'd believed about Israel.
I was allowed to fly an air force jet from the Ovda Airbase. It was then that Israeli insecurity about narrow borders became very real to me. In a matter of minutes, I came close to violating the airspace of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. From that moment on, I felt as Israelis do: The promise of peace must be secure before the Promised Land is secure on a thin margin of land.
Back on the ground on that first trip, I toured the country from Kibbutz Mizgav Am to Masada to the Golan. I stood in the very shelter in a kibbutz in the north where children were attacked and I looked at launching sites and impact zones for Katousha rockets. I was enthralled by Tel Aviv, moved by Jerusalem and inspired by by standing above Capernaum, looking out over the Sea of Galilee, where I read aloud the Sermon on The Mount. I met people of stunning commitment, who honestly and vigorously debated the issues as I watched and listened intently. I went as a friend by conviction; I returned a friend at the deepest personal level.
As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel has both the burden and the glory of a vigorous public square. We as Americans must be the truest and best kind of ally - forthright enough to say what we think - and steadfast enough to stay the course in hard passages as well as easy days.
Herzl's famous words - "If you will it, it is no dream" - signify the promise and the greatest power of Israel - and the hope that a fair and secure peace can be achieved. We must be committed to support Israel in the exacting, essential search for that dream.
I will never forget a moment on top of Masada, when I stood on that great plateau where the oath of new soldiers used to be sworn against the desert backdrop and the test of history. I had spent several hours with Yadin Roman debating whether or not Josephus Flavius was correct in his account of the siege - whether these really were the last Jews fighting for survival - whether they had escaped since no remains were ever found. After our journey through history - which we resolved with a vote in favor of history as recorded - we stood as a group at the end of the cliff and altogether we shouted across the chasm - across the desert - Am Yisrael Chai. And across the silence we listened as voices came back - faintly we heard the echo of the souls of those who perished - Am Yisrael Chai. The State of Israel lives. The people of Israel live.
In this difficult time we must again reaffirm we are enlisted for the duration - and reaffirm our belief that the cause of Israel must be the cause of America - and the cause of people of conscience everywhere.
*The author is a Massachusetts Senator and a Democratic Candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Article was originally published by Brown University Students for Israel in a publication titled "Perspectives: An Israel Review"
[From the Hillel Foundation website)
Commentary by Jeff Blankfort:
Just looking at the contributions from the Mother Jones website (Mother Jones 400) for the 2000 presidential election, a good case could be made for the proposition that the Democratic Party is a subsidiary of the pro-Israel lobby. Congresswoman and House Whip Nancy Pelosi's speech to AIPAC in April 2003 in which she pledged our "unshakable" support to Israel no less than 12 times was in keeping with that relationship, and it explains why both Kerry and Pelosi jumped all over Howard Dean when he had the temerity to suggest that the US be "evenhanded" in trying to mediate a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict (and why Dean's goose was cooked at that moment despite his best efforts to cover his behind and hire several veteran pro-Israel staff members.)