The concepts of “loving Israel” and “supporting Israel” have been bouncing around in my head lately.

I see Jewish (even Israeli) friends, acquaintances, and strangers, all professing that they are staunch supporters of Israel, or that they “love Israel”.

But, then they add a “but”.

Sometimes it’s “oh, the settlements are wrong”,  “Israel is horribly racist in their treatment of minorities”, “look at how Israel oppresses the Palestinians”,  “what Israel did in Gaza during Cast Lead was horrific and should be treated as war crimes”,  “Israel stole homes from Arabs in Sheik Jarrah” and the list goes on ad nauseum.

So, it occurred to me that perhaps these people don’t really love or even support Israel.

They support the “IDEA” of Israel, but not the reality.  Nothing in life is ideal or perfect.  Striving for perfection is great as long as we don’t kill Israel trying to attain it.

In today’s world, there is an inordinately loud clamor for Israel to essentially cease to exist.

The sentiment is usually couched in anti-Zionist rhetoric, but essentially boils down to anti-Semitic sentiments.

In protests in the United States during the Cast Lead incursion into Gaza, this could be seen in the frenzied screams of protesters of “Jews to the ovens!!!”, or “Zionism = Nazism”, or “There is no Israel”, or “Kick the F’ing Jews out of Palestine” and “Palestine is Arab from the river to the sea”, the last implying of course, that Israel doesn’t even exist or that it should be wiped out completely.

These are not idle sentiments.

Many of my fellow Jews, who profess to “love and support” Israel, get caught up in protests about human rights issues in Israel, which is fine, and arguably, necessary if we want Israel to remain one of the best places on Earth to live.  It IS important to work from within to maintain the exceedingly high standards guaranteed by Israel’s declaration of independence and system of laws designed to protect minorities to ensure that minorities get a fair shake.

What disturbs me, though, is that while doing so, these “supporters” of Israel pay no heed whatsoever that their words and actions play into the hands of those who would see Israel destroyed.  Those who claim that Israel doesn’t or shouldn’t exist.  That Israelis are Nazis and that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is Genocide, or Apartheid.  These statements are ridiculous in every way possible, yet our “friends” and “supporters” actually, in many cases, clamor to see who can be the most supportive of Israel’s enemies.

Sometimes, it is necessary to look at the big picture.

Israel’s big picture right now in the eyes of the world is bleak.  Support for Israel is anemic at best, even among friends like the USA under President Obama.  These “friends” claim that Israel somehow stole the right to self-determination from the poor Palestinians, that Israel is determined to wipe them out, that they oppress the Palestinians, that settlements are illegal or illegitimate, etc. etc. etc.

The truth, although these people choose not to see it, is that Israel, rather than being an “IDEA”, is simply a country made up of human beings, the majority of whom are Jewish.

We, as Jews, have many shared values through which we value the sanctity of life, moral and ethical behaviors, and a strong devotion to the rights of the minorities, especially given our several thousand year history as a minority pretty much everywhere we’ve ever lived.

But, those who hold Israel to a much, much, much higher standard than that to which they hold any other country in the world, demonstrated by their self-loathing behavior castigating and condemning Israel in the eyes of the rest of the world, provide strength to Israel’s enemies.

Having spent quite a bit of time in Israel and in many parts of the world, and having been a student of the world for many years, I can certainly attest that Israel treats both its friends and its enemies better than most countries on Earth do.

Yes, Israel is imperfect.  Sometimes it crosses lines that should not be crossed.  Makes mistakes in judgment.

Some of that is due to the nature of Israel’s system of democracy that requires coalition governments, and part of it is simply being caught between a rock and a hard place and having no good choice in many cases.

The world condemns Israel for “settlements”, although in reality, Israel has as much right to the West Bank and Gaza as do the Palestinians, given that Israel captured those territories in a defensive war in 1967.  The fact that Israel cannot unilaterally withdraw, and cannot sustainably retain the West Bank puts Israel in an unwinnable position.  They can’t move forward, and can’t move backwards.

The intransigence of the Palestinians, the continued oppression of the Palestinians in “refugee camps” in Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon BY OTHER ARABS, and the glee of the world at having a Jewish scapegoat all prevent a peaceful outcome, in the face of which Israel continues to be a beacon of light in a very dark region, winning Nobel prizes in every category, providing the world with medical and scientific advances and technology, and even fighting wars with the greatest attention to prevention of civilian casualties ever seen in the history of warfare.

But, does that placate those who continue to tear Israel down from within?

Nope.  They want “Ideal”.  “Perfection”.  For them, it isn’t enough that Israel be light years better than any of its neighbors, or better than most of the world.  Israel must be perfect.

And that attitude, and their constant whining and protesting against everything less than ideal that occurs in Israel, is most definitely harmful to Israel.

With friends and supporters like that, who needs enemies?