Why does Israel matter? Why should the world care about the future of the Jewish state, which, after all, is just one tiny country among many in the world?
As people who love and support Israel, we can think of plenty of reasons. Israel matters because it is the birthplace of the Jewish and Christian faiths. It matters because it is the lone democracy in the Middle East. It matters because the formation of the modern state of Israel, millennia after the eviction of the Jewish people from their biblical homeland, represents an achievement of historic proportions. And the list goes on.
For others, it’s different. Many people are simply indifferent to Israel; it’s something they hear about on the nightly news, but pay little attention to. To them, the dedication to the Jewish state shown by Israel’s friends is difficult to understand at best, fanatical at worst. Others think that Israel does matter, but not in a positive way. For these critics, Israel’s every motive is suspect, every action subject to intense scrutiny and criticism.
Supporters of Israel must be prepared to address, and challenge, these latter views. We need, of course, to inform, and to counter false criticisms with truth. But we also need to explain to people whose attitudes about the Jewish state stem from ignorance or indifference why they should care about the Jewish state and its future, to explain why Israel inspires us.
Now, there’s a new book that can help us do just that. Israel Matters, by the respected scholar, historian, and foreign policy analyst Mitchell Bard, tells us, in a way that speaks to scholar and layman alike, why the world should care about the Jewish state. It does so, not just by countering criticisms and exploding common myths about Israel, but by painting a picture of the Jewish state that encompasses its politics, history, culture, and people.
Far from shying away from discussions of Israel’s challenges, Israel Matters digs deeply into them. By posing questions about complex situations that Israel faces every day “What strategies might Israel use to balance security concerns with the rights of the Palestinians?” “Why did Israel agree to withdraw from parts of the disputed territories?” this book encourages the reader to think more in depth about the difficult, sometimes painful choices Israel is forced to make in her ongoing quest for peace and security. The result is greater understanding and respect for Israel’s position.
After reading Israel Matters, even a dedicated friend of Israel will come away with a fuller, more comprehensive picture of the Jewish state, a greater appreciation of its unique achievements, and a better understanding of its position in the Middle East and the world. As Israel continues to be in the news, and as the possibility of conflict with Iran looms, this is knowledge that will serve us well. And it will serve well those who don’t yet understand why Israel matters but who need to.