The summer of 2014 was set to be a great one. I had slimmed down from the year before, had recently moved into a better home closer to the beach, the World Cup had started and I was all set to enjoy the next few months. Although life always presents its challenges, nothing had come up that was so important that it would change my priorities significantly. Then something happened that changed everything. 3 Yeshiva boys were kidnapped.
I still remember that ray of hope we had that Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal would somehow make it back safely. The motto “Bring Back our Boys” was everywhere as we all prayed that somehow God would see them back to their homes unharmed. I have seen many bad actions taken against Jews and decent people everywhere, but somehow I found myself more involved now than I had been for at least 13 years since 9/11. I related to these boys. I remember being a Yeshiva student myself in my late teens, in Israel, and knew that even if I wasn’t like these boys, I knew guys who were. So it hit home and I found myself caring more than usual. It wasn’t till they were found dead, murdered brutally at what we all knew immediately was the hands of Hamas terrorists, that something truly snapped in me. That was when I, David, had finally had enough.
When tragedy strikes one never knows exactly how they will react. Although I related so significantly to these three boys, I did not know them personally. Had I known them personally, maybe I would have been so distraught that I would have had trouble functioning. So when I say I had finally had enough and I snapped, I felt an anger I had rarely felt in my life and I turned to my weapon of choice, the written word. And my position as a moderate was now a thing of the past as well, as I realized that moderation is something that needs to be saved for the reasonable and fair, not the racially bigoted and brutally violent.
When the Israeli cabinet met on how to react to the boys’ deaths, I knew one thing. As a Jew and a Zionist living in New York, unless they did nothing, I would support the Israeli government. I committed myself to not only stating my feelings, but in rallying as many people as possible to the cause. Not my cause, not merely the Jewish people’s cause, but in truth what should be seen as the entire world’s cause. Before this would happen I would call someone a piece of garbage for being anti-Semitic, and occasionally even write something about it, but now it felt more personal than before. It became so clear to me as it is to almost anyone with an unbiased desire for a peaceful world. So now I decided to go further than I had ever gone before. As I state on my Twitter profile, “no longer am I happy not being part of the problem. Now I want to be part of the solution.”
When Israel first went after Hamas with airstrikes in Gaza, no one really knew how serious the situation would turn out to be. The terror tunnels they discovered were designed to carry out mass murders of Jews, and the intelligence they gathered indicated that it was going to be as soon as this Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year which falls towards the end of September. Israel’s incursion by ground troops into Gaza was used to uncover and destroy these tunnels. However, while this was happening the situation took an ominous term.
I almost typed unexpected as well, but as a Jew paying attention, anti-Semitism is never completely unexpected. I’ve been accused of being slightly over-sensitive to comments, but no one has ever accused me of having a persecution complex. At least not to my face. So when I say I was not totally shocked by the global spike in anti-Jewish words and behavior, this is not coming from someone who makes declarations that “everyone hates the Jews”. I know better. What we’ve seen this summer however has been epic. Even by the usual standards of hatred. Gone is the requirement of logic and fact. Merely wanting to hate the Jews became enough. Telling half of the story so that the part that exonerated Israel was conveniently missing became the strategy of the vocal and clever anti-Zionist/anti-Semite. And gone forever is the notion that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not two in the same. When you have two signs at a protest that say “Free Gaza” and ” Hitler was right”, you have lost the argument that they are different. When pogrom style attacks took place on French synagogues by people claiming to do things in support of Palestinians it was made abundantly clear that this was about hating the Jew at least as much as it was about opposing Israel.
The more Jews were attacked, whether in Israel or outside of Israel, the more committed I became, expressing my commitment through articles and letters to those expressing damaging sentiments towards the Jewish people, while also writing articles acknowledging our supporters. Every time I heard “Free Gaza” I felt more and more compelled to shout to the world that the people of Gaza needed to be freed from Hamas not from Israel. Every time the United Nations revealed its bizarrely obvious bias against Israel I wanted to write something to expose it. Why? Partially because it was cathartic, but even more because I wanted to make sure everyone I could reach would know the truth, and once I began to do that, there was no turning back. With every missile fired at Israel, with every fatality including the 64 members of the IDF fighting to preserve Israel’s survivor, my commitment grew stronger.
Recognizing the need for unity with more than just the Jewish community, I created the Global Coalition for Israel on Facebook as a means of showing a cohesive support for the State of Israel. One month later the group is at 1300 and growing daily. When the summer began I was worried about when I was going to get to the beach, lay in the sun and get to barbecues. I’m not saying that I didn’t do those things to some extent during the summer of 2014, but they all took a back seat to something more important. My new activism. Watching CNN and FOX on a daily basis to get the news coming from the region, researching websites and news sources online, and meeting people with stories to tell from Israel and Europe, the summer of 2014 became something I never expected it would become, it became my Summer of Gaza.
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