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10/03/2023 06:33:02 PM


Israel must live!

Fifty years ago, on October 6, I celebrated my 11th birthday by going to the early Yom Kippur morning service at my temple in Kansas City. This was so I could have the rest of the day to play with my new whirlybird toy. But even at the age of eleven, I knew something was wrong that day. Israel had been surprised by Egypt and Syria and was now fighting for its life. The recent Golda movie points out some of the nuance of this debacle. Even though Israel emerged victorious – thank you to the Nixon administration – a tragic number of lives were lost. This one year after Munich. The fragility of Israel was all too real. I remember bumper stickers on our car in October 1973: Israel Must Live. As in, Israel might not make it.
Fifty years on, Israel seems teetering once again, but I would be quick to rush to judgment. Israel is a democracy, and it is far from perfect. It is messy. But so far, the democratic part is holding. I fear that if compromise between the different factions is not reached, then Israel will face a threat but not from its enemies. Its biggest threat will be at the airport, with educated, reasonable citizens leaving for more successful, tolerant environments.
I am not a citizen of Israel, and my role is not to try to convince actual citizens what they should do. Nevertheless, as a concerned “family member,” I do not shy away from sharing my support for Israel while at the same time pointing out my fears. Israel is a Jewish state, but it is also a democratic state. Both identities do not always mix well, but both are vital if Israel as we know it will survive and thrive.
So, what can we do? Be in touch with our Israeli cousins and let them know we are thinking of them. Follow the news. And remember, as we learned fifty years ago, the real enemy of the Jewish state – and the Jewish people – sits in places like Tehran. We do not have the luxury of forgetting. In the end, the message of fifty years ago is still the same one today: Israel Must Live!

Wed, February 21 2024 12 Adar I 5784