Jews are not usually known as fighting people – unless of course, it’s for that last salmon and cream cheese bagel at a wedding! Throughout history, and in particular the last couple of thousand years, we’ve always kept our heads down, avoiding attention, knowing full well that when attention came our way – it would not be a good thing. So we continued with our lives, keeping mostly to ourselves, always trying to avoid trouble – even though trouble would often seek us out.
But despite keeping to ourselves, we are also seekers of truth, believers in justice, people of compassion for our fellow human being. Many Jews fought against apartheid in South Africa. And many fought for civil rights in America. We have always believed in freedom and the rights of individuals. Tikkun Olam is what we call it. Repair the world. Fix what’s broken to make it a better place.
But now, at this moment in history, we suddenly find ourselves fighting for ourselves like never before.
After the horrors of the Shoah, we came back to our ancestral homeland – a dream fulfilled. After a long exile, we were home again and fiercely determined to continue our Jewish lives in our own sovereign country.
But it was not a dream that had come easy. It was a dream with a price tag – one that is still being paid daily. Our war of independence did not start in 1948, but started many thousands of years earlier – and is continuing to this day. And it is something that we have to continue to fight for.
And so we fight – not because we want to, but because we have to. Our enemies have given us no choice in the matter, and so we will continue to defy their evil intentions. But it is a fight that we believe in – and one that we will meet. Not out of a delirious gluttony of desire, but out of a reluctant forced necessity. For our battle is not just for the State of Israel. It is for the Children of Israel.
Unlike our enemies, we don’t need “days of rage” to rally our troops. Our cause is just enough and our belief is strong. Our survival is all the motivation we need.
But we don’t just fight in the deserts and valleys and towns and cities and farmlands across Israel – we fight across the landscape of the entire world. We fight on forums against those who say we shouldn’t exist. We fight against those that would turn a tragic shooting in Ferguson, America into some kind of Israeli-Palestinian issue. We fight in universities which hold their annual “Israel apartheid” week – every week! We fight in eastern Ukraine where Jews were ordered to register their details and list their assets. We fight against the blood libels spewed out across the world that say we are guilty of something…anything…everything.
Our weapons are not just the Merkava tanks that roll across the desert to meet an oncoming army. It’s not just the Israel Defence Forces who keep watch so that we may sleep peacefully in our beds. It is not just the Border Patrols who protect our borders from infiltration or the Israeli Air Force who watch down on us from above, like a heavenly father looking down on his sleeping child. Instead, it is the keyboards and smartphones across the world that tap away continuously against the constant hate that is vomited out in anti-Semitic forums. It is the ordinary people who meet head-on the hate-filled protesters who march the streets holding signs that call for both Israel and the Jews’ destruction, armed only with truth against their lies. We don’t fight with meat cleavers and axes – we fight with our words and our thoughts and our minds.
We fight against a biased media that is determined to continue its misrepresentation of the truth so that it can fulfil the story it has decided to tell – let the truth be damned.
We fight against those who wish us harm in words and in deeds. We fight against those who with poisoned tongues, dripping in honey, try to force us to give more and more and more of our land and ourselves away.
But we don’t just fight against all those who would hurt us. We also fight for those things that we deserve.
We fight for self-determination and we fight for fairness and we fight for justice.
We fight – not for glory, or Empire, or vengeance, but for life – our lives, our freedom – and the ability to choose our own destiny.
We fight – not because fighting is in our nature, but rather because not giving up is.
And although we are weary of fighting, do not mistake that for weakness or for a lack of will, because if necessary, we will fight forever.
Anything that our enemies will throw at us, we will meet. Every rock that hits us will not weaken us, but strengthen us. Every lie that is told about us will not cause self-doubt, but rather self-assurance. Every effort that is made to delegitimise us and our history and our place in the world, will just serve to make us stronger, wiser and more confident.
And while our enemies have the ability to pierce our skin, to rip our limbs, to make us bleed and hurt and cry – they will never have the ability to pierce our spirit – because our spirit is both ancient and modern. Old and young. Experienced and fresh. It stretches both back and forward across the eons of time from this moment to all that has come before – and all that lies ahead.
And so we fight.
And even if the world succumbs to the dark forces that seem to be growing in strength, and even if it continues its slide down the slope of moral decay, and even if the morality it preaches is twisted into some unrecognizable body, and even if it rises against us, we will still continue to fight.
Alone, if we must.
As long as there is air in my lungs, and fire in my soul and strength in my bones, we will continue to fight, because if we don’t fight for what we believe in today – we will not have anything to fight for tomorrow.