|July 30, 2014|
When it comes to Israel and the Diaspora, I have the special privilege of straddling two worlds. I made aliyah when I was just 21, meaning I’ve spent more than half my life as an Israeli. But I was raised in the United States, and now work passionately on behalf of a North American organization, so I can relate to—and empathize with—the Diaspora community as well.
In recent weeks, as the conflict in Israel has escalated, the lines between these two identities have become less and less defined. There really is no Israeli or American. There is just one Jewish People.
Each day, as one Jewish People, we are all tallying the number of rockets that have fallen, the number of tunnels that have been discovered, the number of innocents who have lost their lives. This is a war against all of our people, and Israel is fortunate to have support that comes from far beyond its borders.
Here in Israel, there are also other tallies we are paying close attention to: the number of Israel solidarity rallies that you holding across North America (more than 75 at last count), the number of meetings you are holding with your government leaders, the number of op-eds you are writing supporting our right to self-defense. Your work is inspiring, and it reminds us that we are not alone.
As the head of JFNA’s Israel office, representing Jewish communities across North America, I am trumpeting your efforts to Israeli leaders, officials and media outlets. And they are doing more than listening.
People who have been glued to their smartphones’ Red Alert apps, who are deliberating policy options on how to handle the current conflict, are taking a momentary break from what we can all understand is on the top of their minds to do what? To tap out an email of thanks to their American friends. Those with children fighting in Gaza are noticing, gratefully, the pro-Israel demonstrations happening around the world.
For many Israelis, war rages on just miles away, and encouraging news from the Jewish Diaspora gives them the strength to carry on. It helps them stay the course of life in the south, and supports them as they live another day on the front lines.
On Monday, eight mayors from communities hardest hit in Israel’s south—places that haven’t just lived under rocket fire for three weeks, but have suffered for more than 13 years—left their situation rooms in their city halls to meet with a small group of North American Jewish leadership. During a night when more than 50 rockets fell from the sky onto their towns, when their obligations to their people were unending, these mayors took the time to sit down—all together—with us, to express their profound gratitude to the North American Jewish community. It means that much to them.
It means that much to all of us. This week we are hosting JFNA’s third solidarity mission to Israel since Operation Protective Edge began. We will travel the country—our country—and meet the people—our people, the Jewish People. With every solidarity mission, every demonstration and every rally, we strengthen Am Yisrael.
Director General, Israel Office
Senior Vice President of Israel and Overseas
The Jewish Federations of North America