As we approach the month anniversary of the 7 October massacre, I, as most, still find it too difficult to comprehend the horror that happened that day. Maybe we will never be able to.
But in these four weeks, Israel has exhibited a resilience and courage that only this country can have. The volunteers have flocked to the army and when you could not help the front, they have directed themselves to helping in any activity that would help the security of the country, the well-being of the soldiers, families hurt by the terrorists and the many, many families that have been displaced.
This was not a centrally controlled movement. It occurred because each Israeli and Jew felt a need to do something to help right away. And it happened all over the world.
The unity has been also inspiring. There will be much time after the war to be able to really understand the failures and responsibilities of what happened. But at this time, people only have one purpose and they are letting all these differences aside.
As much as we saw true evil on October 7th, we are seeing true goodness here in Israeli society and the Jewish world globally. It is important not to forget that too.
Our enemy gave us no choice but to go to war to destroy them. Hamas knew exactly what they were doing. They attacked us and then receded to their bunkers so that the civilian Palestinian population would protect them from attack. It is the worst kind of war where your enemy does not care about the people around them. It is a tragedy that many in the world do not want to understand.
And as if to continue to show their complete lack of humanity, Hamas continues to keep our hostages with no access to any of the basic tenets to know how they are. The Red Cross has not visited them although no one can explain why not. Qatar pretends to be actively involved in negotiations to protect their tarnished image but the results for the moment remain insignificant.
The pain and suffering of the kidnapped and their families is not something I can even begin to understand. The lack of concern on the average person in the world for them is a lesson to all of us.
The war has allowed the anti-Semitism that we all feared but hoped we were wrong on to emerge. For years the debate has been whether it was anti-Semitism or the “legitimate” anti-Israel stance and that the second one should be acceptable. I think the way many of these same people reacted in the last weeks has shown that the debate is now over.
But we don’t lament in the sadness or frustration that we all continue to feel.
We have mobilised, supported, funded and organised as much as we can to support all the families here. Israelis and Jews and the diaspora have worked relentlessly in this effort. That spirit is the one that will allow us to prevail.
So as look at what we can do these days, here are some thoughts as a recent immigrant to Israel (ole hadash) who still has extensive family and friend connections across Europe and the US.
Stay strong and proud. There is no question that events of October 7th shook us but we are rebuilding ourselves with strength. The strength of recovery in Israel should give strength to the diaspora and the strength of our brothers and sisters in the diaspora gives us strength here. This is a time to reconsider many aspects of how we live our lives but not to reconsider our identity or the pride of our identity.
Be counted. Go to the rallies in support of our causes, and help in as many efforts as you can. Some can help monetarily, some can help with time and networks. Everybody can help. But make sure people know where you stand.
Stay on message. This war is not about the Palestinian conflict or retaliation. It is about eradicating an evil force that does not help anybody in the region and living with security. Hamas has a charter that does not argue for peace. Don’t get bogged down on nuance. There is no nuance in this war against Hamas. Be compassionate on the impact on the Palestinians but don’t try to be balanced. There is no balance with Hamas.
Remember the hostages. Every day, make sure we remember them and their families. It is a tragedy of immense proportions that needs to be highlighted everyday with pressure on humanitarian organizations to resolve.
Come and visit. Israel is at war but it is still pretty safe to be here if you are not in military zones. Come a day or two and appreciate how much the country is working to get back on its feet, how people are helping each other and how much people are grieving. Support always helps
Support as many organisations as you can. Sometimes the only thing we can do is provide financial support or logistical support for organizations here in Israel. Do it. Many many people need the help and the country has so many priorities right now that many may not be met right away. All of you can help.
Thank your friends. Thank all the people around us you that have been brave and clear on their support for Israel in its war against Hamas. We need their help and we should thank them. This has been particularly the case with the leaders of many of the western countries.
Remember the ones that stayed quiet. Many people are not bad people but have been way too quiet on this conflict. Remember that when things got tough, they were not our friend.
Call out anti-Semitism. The times have passed to be careful not to offend people. There are clear lines between being pro-Palestinian who want peace with Israel and to want the end of Israel. If people cross them or stay quiet when people cross them, there is no question of what it is.
Pray for the safety of Jews. Many might be religious and many many not, but everybody should support prayers for safety of our soldiers, their families, the hostages, civilians and Jews all over the world. Israel has been a country of many miracles and we will continue to need them
A video went around the other day of an old man in Tel Aviv walking in front of the pictures of the hostages and sending kisses to each of the pictures. I could not imagine a better action to represent who we are.
We choose life. They chose death.
Life will always win. But there are times we need to embrace and fight for it.
This is one of those times.
Am Israel Chai
- Edward Misrahi is a businessman, philanthropist and former chair of BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre). He made aliyah in 2020.
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