Don’t Spy For Me

Dear Young American Zionist,

You want to help Israel in any way possible, and you’re fired up by stories you’ve heard and movies you’ve seen about Israel’s heroic soldiers, commandos, and Mossad agents. You meet some guy with an accent who persuades you that Israel’s future depends on some classified documents you’ve got access to at your job. Here’s your chance to place yourself among those heroes.

Don’t do it.

Why not? Because it’s not the right thing for you to do as a Zionist, and not the right thing for you to do as a citizen of the United States of America.

Unfortunately, because Israel has had to fight to survive, fighting has become, in the eyes of too many, the equivalent of Zionism. Performing military–or espionage–service in or for Israel is seen as the ultimate form of hagshama, of the realization of the Zionist dream.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government and Zionist organizations have encouraged such equivalency by creating programs in which young people can perform military service in the IDF and then go home to live out their lives in American wealth and comfort. I’ve called for the abolition of such programs here.

Zionism means settling in Israel and living your life here. The ultimate form of hagshama is to work here and raise a family and to be an involved and conscientious citizen. Military service is important, indeed essential, to defend Israel, but the IDF is a tool for defending Israel, not a value in and of itself. I say this as a long-serving IDF infantryman: the person who comes here only to fight, with the express purpose of returning to America after completing his or her service, perverts the essential nature of Zionism.

I don’t believe that every Jew must or should live in Israel. If you have decided that you prefer to live in America, or if personal or professional circumstances force you to defer aliya, then you remain an American citizen. If you live in the U.S., you should be a concerned and active citizen of your country. If you are moved to perform military service, then the country whose military you should serve in is that of the United States. The United States quite reasonably views spying for a foreign state–even a friendly one–as a serious crime.

Israel needs good citizens, workers, entrepreneurs, community activists, fathers and mothers much more than it needs soldiers. If you can move here and become one of us, that’s great. If you need to stay in the U.S., that’s fine. But don’t pretend you can live in a netherworld, enjoying the benefits of an American life while fighting or spying for Israel. It’s wrong, and you might end up in jail.

8 thoughts on “Don’t Spy For Me

  1. Brilliant article Haim, and very wise. The breaking down of boundaries between the US and Israel is one of the reasons for so much confusion. This strikes at the heart of it.

  2. Haim, what is your view on the Palestinians who have to deal with Americans coming over to settle in the land that they live on? Is this any way of making peace move forward? Where are these Palestinians supposed to go?

  3. The Israeli gov’t is loudly proclaiming it hasn’t spied on the U.S. since 1985 & that the current affair happened before then. How does it square this with the Larry Franklin/AIPAC incident. I understand that Franklin’s documents were shared with an Israeli consular official (Mossad agent likely) who subsequently left the U.S. just after the spy scandal erupted.

  4. Why would anyone who is an American citizen spy for Israel or on the US ?There was a hue and cry in this country for Jonathan Pollard’s death as a traitor , fortunately cooler heads prevailed,but the position of the Israeli government has left a bad taste in the mouths of certain Americans.

    Observations on the ground from some of our missionaries involved in humanitarian works involving the conduct of members of the IDF from the settlements is not positive. One woman ,who worked in Chile during the Pinocett reign of terror says there are many comparisons between those CIA trained thugs and soldiers recruited from the settlements. The swagger, the level of rudeness toward non-jews, the obvious lack of good education,poor language skills, inability to converse properly in Hebrew and almost a fanatical hatred of the Palestinians. These attitudes were not exhibited in the past when there were less members of the IDF from the settlements. The IDF according to Jeffrey Goldberg in his article in this month’s Atlantic,”Is Israel Finished?” says that the settlements contribute 25% of the present membership of the IDF . We in the US should also take note that the Army and Marines have again lowered their standards not only to include non-high school graduates, people with minimal IQ scores, but con
    victed felons ; shades of Roehm’s “brown shirts”.

    Again people should not be painted with a ” broad brush” and all generalities are suspect. The love of one’s ancestral homeland should not include betraying your country of citizenship by betraying trust given to you as a member of that democracy.Pollard chose not to recognize this but the young Zionist should

  5. I also read that piece that Israel claims there is no spy activity in the US. That denial does not hold very strong when analysed carefully, ie Larry Franklin and the “High-Fivers” of the 9/11 attacks.

  6. Well, Mr Hilborn, you really did it this time. Here’s what you said:
    —————————————————————-

    One woman ,who worked in Chile during the Pinocett reign of terror says there are many comparisons between those CIA trained thugs and soldiers recruited from the settlements. The swagger, the level of rudeness toward non-jews, the obvious lack of good education,poor language skills, inability to converse properly in Hebrew and almost a fanatical hatred of the Palestinians. These attitudes were not exhibited in the past when there were less members of the IDF from the settlements.
    —————————————————————

    You claim essentially that people living in “settlements” are violent, uncouth, bigoted and ignorant. There are 300,000 Jews living in what you call “settlements”. Does this fit all, or even a majority? You also imply that anyone who serves in the military is a “brown shirt” (didn’t you state that YOU served in the military). With this posting, you have lost all credibility with me. You are a biased , hyper-politicized person who can only demonize those you don’t agree with.

  7. I appreciate the layout of your argument and how you appropriately lay out your position on ‘lone soldiers’ in Israel. I however disagree with the conclusion that serving in ‘volunteer army’ service for Israel “perverts the essential nature of Zionism.” Jews in America often find the best way of supporting the state of Israel is through financial donations. Are you to say that if these ‘American donations’ go towards the IDF and not to kibbutzim than it is not Zionist? Zionism is not a one dimensional expression. The state of Israel exists because it is able to excel in many facets, not just the science, not just agriculture, and not just the military. If an able bodied 21 year old living in Atlanta, Ga feels a connection to the land of Israel and is willing to give two years of his life to the IDF and do it for FREE than that is his/her way of contributing. Many of us ended up in America by chance, and have cousins in Israel by circumstances beyond anybody’s control. If I chose to fight for the cause of defending the people I love in Israel and the country I so often visit than I will do so. Your conclusion is completely ungrounded is disconnected from the substance of your argument.

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