March 1, 2012
One Israel Fund honors radio talk show host
“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.”