“Jews are very good neighbors; you can’t say any more about them,” John Batchelor maintained, when I had the opportunity to sit with him this week. He was sanguine about his opportunity to speak before the One Israel Fund’s 18th Gala Anniversary Dinner on Wednesday, March 14.
Batchelor, the nationally syndicated radio talk show host will be honored by the organization dedicated to not only supporting Israel, but promoting the unification of Judaea and Samaria as a pivotal mainstay of the Jewish State.
The distinction of advancing the eternal attachment of the West Bank to the Greater Israel, makes the support of someone like Mr. Batchelor unique among non Jewish advocates for the only democracy in the Middle East.
However, while raised as a Protestant in the Presbyterian church and married to a pastor, he does not attribute his attitude toward Israel as so much a religious consideration as it is a practical levelheaded belief in the people.
Growing up outside of Philadelphia, in Lower Merion Township; he said that all of his childhood friends were Jewish, “except for the fact that you don’t know that when you’re growing up together.”
He does recall noticing that his last name was the “funny” one, not having some of the more discernible Jewish suffixes, but the Judaism of his childhood friends is not something that he identified with until later in life. “Later on, in the Sixties, Jewish identity became something we talked about as teenagers.”
During the Six-Day War, he would go door-to-door with his friend collecting money for Israel. He said that he did not have a good grip on the politics back then, but they knew Israel was existentially threatened and that was enough for him. His opinions on Israel “evolved as [his] education about the world evolved, and Israel became a vital ally of the United States.”
The state of Israel and its safety was on the mind of the radio host, but not a central focus or a calling of his. The attacks of 9/11 on the United States changed his political views. “I wasn’t educated… I didn’t understand the scale of the threat.” He remembered, “I didn’t understand the duplicity of Riyadh, or Damascus, or Cairo. I didn’t understand the intractability of the Islamists and the Jihadists.”
When he used to hear the term “Land for peace,” he said, “I guess I remember hearing ‘they live in a tough neighborhood’ as a way to dismiss the problem.” Then he added, “Israel would have no conflict if its neighbors were not predators.”
Mr. Batchelor sees the events unfolding in the Middle East as a prelude to a protracted war. “The demise of Egypt and the Brotherhood, the demise of Syria, and losing Iraq as we are,” appear to be an indication that “we will look back at these events in twenty years and see these at the catalysts that lead us to this.”
As for Iran, he says the Tehran is a predator state. He sees a conflict as inevitable, “I do not see a way for a negotiated settlement to this issue with Iran.”
But he is confident of Israel’s preparedness. “Israel is ready and knows what to do when the time comes,” he said. “Iran will send its bombs via its agents, Hezbollah and even Hamas… They supply the weapons and give the orders.”
Batchelor’s sense is that terrorist factions will begin putting more heat on Israel in an effort to get the Jewish state to launch an all out attack, with the hope of using media and political pressure to show the world how Israel is a war mongering nation.
Mr. Batchelor believes that Israel has a true partner in Jordan. “The King of Jordan is a close confidant of the prime minister of Israel... and that mean a lot of stability for the United States.
When asked about President Obama, he said, “you cannot say he isn’t a friend of Israel, but he is ineffective.” Mr. Batchelor sees President Obama’s belief in a the possibility of Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a flaw in his thinking.
However, the one thing that remains constant in Bachelor’s mind is the support of Congress. “Congress is well informed and extremely vigorous in its support of Israel and the one thing you can say that unites Congress and ends partisanship is the question of the survival and prosperity of Israel.”
“Administrations come and go, but Congress is an organic institution,” he said, “The Senators and Representatives, whether they are Jewish or not, or even if they have Jewish constituents or not, are very well educated on the matter of Israel.”
When asked why people like him support Israel so fervently, he said, “What I’ve learned in the many years of travel to Israel is that the Israelis are very good neighbors, very good very sensible people… and they are trustworthy.”