OPINION: Together we will prevail. We have in the past and will again

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OPINION: Together we will prevail. We have in the past and will again

Edward MIsrahi offers a note of optimism as the war in Gaza continues, with all its ramifications for Jewish communities around the world.

It is easy these days to get very dark about the outlook for Israel and the Jewish people in the diaspora.

In Israel, the combination of a complex war in Gaza and its tragic casualties and an existential risk with Iran and its proxies in a country still under shock from the October 7th attack and with large parts of its population displaced leads to understandable distress.

Having 120 hostages still in captivity for more than 250 days haunts us continuously.  Abroad, our communities are attacked for merely being Jewish, and Israel is wrongly accused of unspeakable things by people who are more worried about statements than facts.

Given the complex political situation in Israel and across the world and the length of this conflict, it is understandable to be depressed and it is not easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We are not going to find easy solutions to these problems. Politicians all want quick fixes but we all know that they don’t exist here. Instead, we need to build the blocks from which solutions will be able to be developed over time. This requires not only time and effort but patience and resolve. We will best succeed if we move forward with a spirit of solidarity and courage.

To see where I am coming from, allow me to tell you a little story that happened to me and a couple of my friends. In the aftermath of. October 7th, I suggested that my friends abroad come and visit the country. My best friend from the US (who is an exceptional Zionist anyway) quickly arranged a trip and came with his business partner.

During the trip we visited troops near the border of Gaza that were getting ready to go in (this was really soon after October 7th). As we were driving through a base and approaching a checkpoint, we were debating in the car whether we could take pictures as we were surrounded by hundreds of military vehicles.  Our windows were rolled down and one of the soldiers heard our conversation. He motioned for us to get out of the car.  We thought we were in trouble for a moment, but the officer in charge was simply suggesting that we get out and take pictures with his unit!

Edward MIsrahi

This uniformed officer was loaded with more weapons that I can describe and was hours away from entering Gaza. We took a few pictures with him and the unit and wished them health and success. The commanding officer, it turned out, had lived in New York for some time (he is a lawyer) and established that he had a couple of common acquaintances with my friend’s business partner.  Wow, what an example of “Jewish geography”!  We got back in the car and drove on, amazed by the courage of the soldiers we had met and how small the Jewish world is.

And then, about an hour later, one of our party received a LinkedIn invite from the commander! The guy is about to go into Gaza, but before he does, he finds the time to connect with a random visitor from NYC. That’s amazing!  Fast forward, thankfully the leader of the unit finishes his tour in Gaza safely, goes back to his work, continues the conversation started at the Gaza border and ultimately the commander is now working on a private equity deal with my friend from NY.  From the military field to private equity.

Of course, there are amazing stories of heroism and tragedy which have occurred in the last six months and this story does not compare.  Nevertheless, I took several things away from it.

First and above all, we need to have courage in what we do. Courage that we have seen in our soldiers, but we also see it in thousands of people across the world who are all trying to make a difference in their own way. But also, we cannot forget solidarity – we should be open to helping and connecting as much as we can in situations that we might not even have planned or might not be our normal path.

Going to a military base to find your next legal counsel is not the normal way. But my friend showed solidarity and respect for the courage of the officer not just to enter Gaza but to respond when he reached out and truly follow up.

These are times when it is difficult to know how you can help or what we can do in this war.  The feeling is overwhelming.  But in addition to courage, we can approach all of our efforts looking for solidarity and to help those who are fighting our fight.  There is not only one way that we are going to overcome the current set of challenges, but together we will prevail. We have in the past and we will again.

As you assess all you are doing these days, stay positive and think about whether you are focused both on courage and solidarity. If so, keep at it!  If not, see how you can change what you are doing to achieve them.  Courage and solidarity will help us overcome our current difficulties and block by block we will reach a day when the light will be there at the end of the tunnel.

Of that I have no doubt. Am Y’Israel Chai.

  • Edward Misrahi is a businessman, philanthropist and former chair of BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre)
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