We need you to visit us, now. It is a difficult time for those of us who live in Israel. We are under attack by an enemy we cannot recognize. Our attackers wear no uniform, they don’t play by the book, and they seem to be simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.
To be a Jew in Israel today is to be a Jew under siege. Statistically we know there is little danger of being attacked. For every news-filled day of three, five or seven Jews stabbed or killed, millions of us survived without incident. Yet fear doesn’t stem from statistics, it comes from a dark place deep down that doesn’t listen to reason. That dark voice is louder than ever now. We are scared.
Sitting in America, the media bias, silence of world leaders and blame of Israel frustrates and angers you. “How could they get it so wrong?!!” you scream at the screen, radio or paper. In Israel we experience that same frustration, but it also causes something much more painful for us. The world’s ignorance, whether by omission or commission, causes a deep and dreadful loneliness inside us all. Although surrounded by six million fellow Israelis, all whom feel the same way, each of us feels deeply alone.
Over the past three weeks I have traveled and spoken about “the situation” in communities all over America. I have been asked hundreds of times, “How is it over there?” I have seen the concern of our American brethren, Jew and Gentile alike, and it is real and it is a palpable. I’ve seen the letter writing campaigns, the political advocacy, the activism, the rallies, demonstrations and now the moments of silence. They are calls of support in our tough times, and they are appreciated more than you can know.
Now we need more. We need more than a long distance call of support. We are your sibling, depressed and alone. We need you to visit, to sit with us, walk the streets with us, shop in our stores and pray in our synagogues. We need you beside us, not from afar, but close by, right next to us. We need you to visit Israel. We need hundreds of thousands of you.
Winter break is coming up, whether for you that is the end of December or the middle of January – we need you to change your vacation plans from skiing in Vale or lying on the beaches of Miami. If a trip wasn’t in the works, we need you to stretch your budget a little more and push – like you would in any family emergency – and make the trip. It is that crucial.
If you are a congregational Rabbi, a school principal or a Federation leader, we need you to pull out the playbook of the early 2000’s when missions were in vogue. We need you to send out an “emergency appeal” to your community, not for funds, but for bodies. If you are a parent, we need you to choose one of your children, book a flight for you and them, and explain to them that this is what it means to be Pro-Israel. If you’re in college, or single, we need you to get on a plane and hang out here. How amazing would it be if missions started walking the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya and Safed again? How great would it be if the road to the Dead Sea and Masada were once again crowded with tour buses with signs on the front grill that read, “Mission of Support?” (And on your way back to Jerusalem from the Dead Sea, you’re all invited to my home and my yishuv – it’s on the way!)