No country in the world is beaten up more than Israel. No democracy in the world is held to the same standards as those imposed on Israel. From the halls of the United Nations to classrooms of leftist professors and parliaments of Europe, the Jewish state is the victim of lies propagated by individuals and organizations funded to delegitimize its existence.
Long besieged by legions of haters, the tiny democracy in the bad neighborhood also has a powerful contingent of devoted, vocal and tireless advocates. On the frontlines defending Israel and calling out the anti-Semites are organizations led by women.
On the world stage, Israel has no better advocate than U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, representing the U.S. in the most anti-Israel international body in the world. Despite the heinous crimes against humanity committed by North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and countless other theocracies and dictatorships, Israel is singled out for condemnation. But Nikki Haley, unlike her most recent predecessors, publicly calls out the U.N. for its anti-Israel bias and hypocrisy, putting the world on notice that no country acts with more “restraint” when under attack than Israel.
Christian support for the Jewish state is indispensable. The largest pro-Israel organization in the world is the 4.3 million-member Christians United for Israel.
Founded and spiritually driven by Pastor John Hagee, CUFI’s daily operations are headed by Co-Executive Directors Diana Hagee and Shari Dollinger. In an exclusive interview, Diana Hagee, the pastor’s wife, told the Haym Salomon Center that when the pastor appointed them to the position, she questioned the decision. “Is this combination the right way to go?” she wondered. Hagee reminded her about the strength of his mother who at the age of nine had to “take charge of the household” and help raise her six siblings.
Recalling her mother-in-law:
She began studying Scripture at an early age and attended Bible school on a scholarship, which was very unusual for a woman in those days, especially in the Evangelical community. She would become an innovative pastor’s wife, leading children’s and music programs. Because she taught my husband so much about the ministry, he has been able to recognize leadership qualities in people.
Both the Old and the New Testaments speak about the importance of women — Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Naomi, so many. Anytime a woman is mentioned, for the most part it’s because she is a mover and a shaker. She hears the voice of the Lord and gets the job done.
I’ve been blessed to learn from Diana that when there is work to do, it gets done. That has always been our motto, and we’re excited about doing it together.
The work Dollinger referred to is the never-ending task of educating Christians about Israel and why they have an obligation to support and defend the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
CUFI’s work includes combating the anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is an ongoing concern because it focuses on college students who are already inundated with far-left ideas from professors who often malign Israel as an apartheid or Nazi state.
Leading the effort to bring the truth to college students, as well as high school and middle school students, is the Israel education group StandWithUs, co-founded in 2001 by Roz Rothstein. Currently its CEO, Rothstein is considered one of the most influential Jews in the world — a veritable rock star in the pro-Israel community.
Asked about the importance of women being seen supporting Israel, Rothstein said, “Support for Israel is not a matter of gender, religion, political affiliation, or other aspects of identity. It’s a matter of recognizing that Jews, like all peoples, have a right to self-determination and security in their ancestral homeland.”
Perhaps it is no coincidence that the new organizations are, in many cases, led by women. Women have traditionally been teachers in the home. As my husband and StandWithUs co-founder Jerry Rothstein always says, “Zionists are not born; they need to be created and nurtured.”
As the anti-Semites vie for the hearts and minds of young people, it is high time to instill love, appreciation and knowledge about Israel. Just as women have traditionally been the spiritual lynchpin of the Jewish home, women leading many of the newer pro-Israel organizations are doing the same on a much larger scale. We are creating, nurturing and inspiring the next generation of support for Israel and the Jewish people in our global family.
Another female trailblazer of the pro-Israel community is Andrea Levin, executive director and president of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a media-monitoring organization that promotes “accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East.”
Levin has been at the helm of CAMERA since 1991 and under her leadership the organization has grown from 1000 members to 65,000. New Yorkers will recognize her handiwork. In recent years CAMERA placed a large billboard advertisement across the street from the offices of The New York Times calling them out for anti-Israel “bias” and “attacks” against the Jewish state. Last year CAMERA was responsible for the correction or retraction of false or biased information about Israel in nearly 200 articles. This year they expect that number to increase.
“Our campus team supports students on over 80 campuses, countering anti-Israel falsehoods and propaganda with pro-Israel educational events, speakers, tabling and other activity,” explained Levin. “Our Fellows utilize the campus paper to reach thousands of their peers with solid information about Israel.”
As for women leading pro-Israel organizations, Levin told the Haym Salomon Center, “Perhaps it underscores the openness with which the pro-Israel community engages with all who work to promote truth about Israel, regardless of gender or anything else, for that matter.”
The list of pro-Israel advocacy groups with a woman at the helm doesn’t end there. Campus watchdog group AMCHA Initiative is led by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin; the Washington, D.C.-based Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is headed by founder and president Sarah Stern; the lobbying group CUFI Action Fund is run by Sandy Hagee Parker. Women, endowed by the Creator with special powers to create, communicate and unify, are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to supporting Israel.
With women relegated to second- and third-class status by Israel’s neighbors, one can only look upon women advocating for Israel as another reason to support the Middle East’s only free society.
Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on twitter @pauliespoint.