We came from the Middle East and wandered for 2000 years and returned home, but we never lost our ethic – an ethic that underpins every Western country.

The Jews, in Israel and the Diaspora, are blessed with wonderful non-Jewish friends who defend us in this anti-Semitic, Jew-hating world. Like all human beings, we want to be loved. Our friends of different races, colors, creeds and religions explain that Israel isn’t an apartheid state, that Israel isn’t an occupier. They speak around the world and in Israel. I read about their exploits on social media. I see how they are thanked, profusely, for all they do for us.

I fear, however, that we are so thrilled, so grateful for their love and attention that we are giving away our agency; bits and pieces of our identity. We are allowing others to define us in the hope that they have the magic elixir that will make us be loved by others. And they, in turn, so pleased that we are pleased, want to do more.

And then I just heard that some of these people who love us are asking for money from us so they can continue their crusade – on our behalf. How did we become so insecure that we pay non-Jews to speak up for us?

Do you remember the story of King Saul? The Jewish people wanted a king like all the other nations around them.

And they the people said [to Samuel] “… Now set up for us a king to judge us like all the nations …” (1 Samuel, 8:6)

God was not happy with that request. He told the prophet Samuel:

“Listen to the voice of the people according to all that they say to you for they have not rejected you but they have rejected Me from reigning over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7)

The Jewish people wanted a leader, someone to tell them what to do, to take on the serious mantle of decision-making. It’s no easy task to have to decide constantly what to do. Making decisions is exhausting. The Talmud says that “a slave is happier being a slave” ― a slave who is well treated will give up his freedom to know that he is being taken care of and decisions are being made for him.

And so the Israelites got a king. Today we no longer have a human king, but we are searching for a leader to tell us what to do. And I fear that we, the Jewish people, rather than trusting in God and the ethic with which we were bequeathed, have given into fear and turned to others to tell us what to do, how to behave, what to think.

For example, I was told recently by a non-Jewish supporter of Israel that I am not an authentic Jew because I think of myself as Western; that doing so is wrong because it denies my indigenous connection to Israel. We came from the Middle East and wandered for 2000 years and returned home, but we never lost our ethic – the ethic that underpins every Western country. I never want the West to forget that Israel is the mother of Western society.

Why do we allow ourselves to give up our free will and instead be swayed by others, even by those who mean well?

And that is why we must remember the commandment: 

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. You shall have no other gods to rival Me. You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness or anything in heaven above or earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh, your God, am a jealous God.  (Exodus 20:1-5)

I suggest that nothing others do will make us loveable. Only what we do – our behavior, in Israel and in the Diaspora, is what will make us respected; forget about love. We should be respected for the medical miracles, the technological advances, the care we provide others in need – from rescuing people after in earthquakes to providing field hospitals to helping African nations better irrigate and grow crops… Israel is an exporter of care for the other.

We are individually and collectively responsible for caring for Am Yisrael – the nation of Israel.

It is time for Israel to declare – loudly and proudly – that according to international law, Israel is not an occupier of an apartheid state.

We must remind the world that we, the Jewish people, gave the world the greatest gift of all – the gift of ethical values to those who chose to take our ethic into the foundational documents of their countries. We look around the world and see that countries that don’t follow our ethic are floundering, if not in total chaos.

And now we, the Jewish people, who gave this wondrous, one could say miraculous, ethic to the world, are back in our homeland, in the same place where we first brought this ethic into the world, once again surrounded by the muck and misery of countries where tribes are killing and mutilating each other. Where terror reigns. We are home, flourishing against all odds.

And if we cannot be respected for all of that, so be it.

Article by Diane Weber Bederman

Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital-trained chaplain who lives in Canada, just outside Toronto. She writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog, "The Middle Ground: The Agora of the 21st Century." Bederman is the author of "Back to the Ethic: Reclaiming Western Values," published Dec. 2015 by Mantua Books (available on Amazon).