A conservatarian’s fears for Israel and his people
I’m Jared Silverman. I want to thank NJJN editor-in-chief Andrew Silow-Carroll for inviting me to write this column.
It is a natural outgrowth of something that I have been doing for a while. For a number of years I have maintained a number of e-mail lists for the purpose of circulating news, along with my comments on subjects such as Judaism, anti-Semitism, Israel, foreign relations, domestic politics, economics and, occasionally, even humor.
My views have been forged by a rather unique set of life experiences. I was born into a civic-minded family which was active in Bronx County Democratic Party politics. Both my parents held positions in our synagogue, B’nai B’rith, the Anti-Defamation League. My father was active in the Jewish War Veterans and the citizens’ advisory committee for the local police precinct. With this background, how could I not be active in politics and various Jewish groups?
Along the way I collected four degrees, two in engineering and two in law. I’ve been an engineer, a systems analyst, manager, and a lawyer. I have worked in the manufacturing, public utilities, stock exchange, telecommunications, securities regulation, and entrepreneurial business sectors.
However, the economics I learned as an antitrust defense attorney, coupled with my operations research/systems analysis education, along with the constitutional law I learned in law school, would not allow me to continue down, what would seem, the preordained path. Somewhere along the line, the 1980s to be exact, I became a shande, a disgrace, to my upbringing, and became (gasp) a conservative with a libertarian streak. Call me a conservatarian, a Jeffersonian Democrat, or an 18th-century liberal.
I believe in fiscal responsibility and limited government. I believe in a strong national defense. I believe in individual liberties, coupled with responsibilities. And I believe that the founders of this country and the framers of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, created the best form of government ever known to humankind.
While I have diverged from my family’s political bent, I have not deviated from my association with Judaism. If anything, my association with matters Jewish is stronger now than when I was growing up. I have been associated with various Jewish organizations over the past decades. However, while I would like to immerse myself into as many Jewish issues and organizations as possible, the available time is limited. I am proud to say that today I chair the Government Affairs Committee of the Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. (This is a good time to point out that the views expressed in this column are mine and do not represent those of either the GAC, the CRC, or UJC MetroWest.)
My support of Israel bloomed later than my other interests. It came about much the same way that George W. Bush became a staunch supporter of Israel. For Bush, it was a helicopter tour with Ariel Sharon during which he noted the narrowness of the country and the problems defending Israel’s borders.
For me, my exposure to Israel while I was growing up included filmstrips in Sunday school and reading assignments in The World Over magazine. As I grew older, I found that the Israelis I met were by and large a pushy and obnoxious lot. I particularly objected to being told what I, as a Diaspora Jew, should do.
All that ended in 1988 when, at the age of 45, I took my first trip to Israel on an Israel Bonds mission for the 40th anniversary of the founding of Israel. One day I found myself standing on an abandoned Syrian pillbox 10 meters away from the headwaters of the Kinneret and thinking about how that gun emplacement threatened the entire water supply of Israel. Later, I found myself in the Golan looking down at the Hula Valley and thinking what life was like there when Syria occupied the Golan. Like Bush, I was taken by the problems of defending this country and strongly believed that there was something worth protecting. This was my epiphany.
So here I am, an unapologetic supporter of the United States; the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence; the brilliance of its federalist, representative republican form of government as set forth in the Constitution; and its capitalist economy. Could things be improved? Always. That doesn’t mean you abandon what has made the United States great in search of either a new, untried, or discredited philosophy.
Here I also am, a firm supporter of the State of Israel, knowing that it, like the United States, is not perfect, but a far cry better, economically and politically, than its neighbors and much of the world that would vilify it. As a Jew, I am concerned about the survival of my people in days which, in my opinion, are beginning to resemble the late 1920s and the 1930s.
These views and others will be developed in future columns as we together look at the evolving world.