Calling Allen West a "Defender of Israel" is a little like calling Fred Phelps a "defender of Christianity." West thinks he's a defender of Israel, and he sure does seem to like the place, but his net impact on that country probably isn't so good.
I made this point to a gentleman in the employ of Chabad of East Boca -- a Jewish religious community that has decided Allen West is a defender of Israel and that intends to give him a "Defender of Israel" award to make it official at a gala dinner on April 3. I felt a little bad for the Chabadian on the phone, a very friendly fellow named Michael Ackerman. He spoke eloquently and feelingfully about the "existential threat" faced by Israel, about "the continued onslaught of thousands of rockets being launched into bedroom communities and playgrounds and schools, and the virtual silence of the international community in the face of that onslaught."
But when I hit Ackerman with a few questions about Allen West's effects on Israel's fortunes, he said: "I, um, I didn't really know what you were going after with this interview. I'm not -- I'm not involved with politics. I'm just planning the dinner."
I asked him most of the questions anyway, and to his credit, Ackerman seemed genuinely interested in the presented data, though he insisted he didn't have enough information to respond. Here are those questions:
Q: Allen West is a Christian, obviously, and he takes the Bible very seriously. In a speech in Fort Lauderdale in January, he reached back to his Old Testament, looked in Numbers 34, and gave a quote in which "the Lord" speaks to Moses, and lays out Israel's borders. In Numbers 34, those borders encompass all of what's now called Palestine and even a bit more. So, based on that, Allen West said he disagrees with a Palestinian state, because Muslims already have a home in the region -- he mentions Jordan and implies that Muslims should be relocated there. Is that the official position of Chabad as well?
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Q: Isn't it a bit ironic for a Jewish organization to award somebody who pushes for the forced relocation of an ethnic group?
Q: The award is called "The Defender of Israel" award. Do you think Israel is best protected by somebody who advocates forced relocation of Muslims -- which will obviously lead to the radicalization of Muslims and increased hostility with Israel's neighbors?
Q: Last question. In the same speech I'm mentioning, Allen West suggested that Palestinian sympathizers are un-American. He said they should, quote, "Take your pro-Hamas butts and get the hell out of my country." He was referring to native-born Americans -- Floridians -- who just so happen to have a different view of geopolitics than he does. Is that Chabad's feeling? That Palestinian sympathizers don't have the right to live in America?
After our chat, Ackerman requested I send him the video of West's speech, which I did. I've yet to hear what he thinks of it.