I had something else I wanted to post about today, but the outbreak of war in Israel eclipses all else. Jameel is liveblogging the events. (His information always seems to be more current and more detailed than that of the news outlets.)
I have heard the following sentiment expressed countless times by native born Israelis: You Jews in the Diaspora say that you support Israel, but what do you really do for us? You live far away in your comfortable, peaceful countries, enjoying a safe and affluent lifestyle. You read about terror attacks and shake your heads. You hear about poverty in our cities and write a check to assuage your guilt. Your sons and daughters spend their best years safely studying in yeshivahs and universities, while our children spend three years or more in the army, risking their young lives to protect us. And once a year you march in a parade in Manhattan and congratulate yourselves for being such avid supporters of Israel. Big deal. Come live here with us, experience how we live day-to-day, and then you can call yourself a supporter of Israel.
Well, they're not entirely wrong. Right now, children in Sderot and Kiryat Gat and the Galil are being forced to stay within 15 seconds of a bomb shelter. Reservists across Israel are preparing to be called up. Soldiers and police officers are battling rock-throwing, rioting Arabs near Jerusalem. Storekeepers are closing their shops, parents of soldiers are overcome with silent worry, and hospitals are preparing for the worst. And here in New York, we sit securely in our homes, viewing these distant events through the safe prism of news reports.
But they're also not entirely right. So many Jews in North America, Europe, Australia and other places have close personal ties to Israel. Most of us have visited, many of us have lived there or studied there or have relatives there. I visited Israel many times, and lived there during the second Gulf War. I, too had to set up our bomb shelter with food and water and gas masks. My children and I are all citizens of Israel. My youngest child was born there, and my son will get a tzav sent to him before his 18th birthday. My brother currently lives in Raanana; his daughter is serving in the IAF. My ex-in-laws all live there, as do a few of my friends. We know "what's it like", and we too worry about our friends and families. And the financial and political support of our powerful Jewish communities help keep many Israeli institutions afloat and exert enough influence to keep the American government firmly on Israel's side.
I feel conflicted (see this post) about living in America instead of in Israel. Many of us do. But the people of Israel should know that we do care, we do worry, we do pray so very hard for your safety and your success. Our support is real and it is heartfelt. And we hope that you feel it, as far away as you are.
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