You know, I really do think the alliance that has emerged over the past generation between the American right and the State of Israel is a good thing. Having been born a dual citizen of Israel and America, and having spent the past two decades living in Israel and speaking Hebrew, I can understand the Israelis’ need to build alliances with people who share their commitment to democracy and the Bible, and who have influence in the halls of high politics.
But sometimes an Israeli must take exception with the way his country is used in American domestic debates. One big recent example concerns gun control.
Surely you recall when Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association and a man who rarely chooses his words carefully, spun the following yarn after the Newtown, Conn., catastrophe. “Israel had a whole lot of school shootings,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “until they did one thing. They said, ‘We’re going to stop it,’ and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then.”
LaPierre was rightfully taken down a notch by Israeli officials who pointed out that (a) Israel never did suffer from “a whole lot of school shootings,” but rather from a tiny number of very high-profile terror attacks on schools; (b) Israel did not do “one thing,” but rather took a vast array of anti-terror measures of which the posting of armed guards was far from central. “We’re fighting terrorism, which comes under very specific geopolitical and military circumstances,” Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor rebutted. “This is not something that compares with the situation in the U.S.”
Yet these responses did not get at the heart of how wrong LaPierre was — or how grand is the canyon between the culture he promotes and Israel’s.
There are three deep differences between Israel and America when it comes to guns — differences that have nothing to do with terror and random school shootings, differences that should lead American supporters of the Second Amendment to wish that LaPierre had held his tongue.