As I stepped into the bomb shelter on Erev Shabbat, I realized with stark clarity that this is why we will never be defeated. Not because prayer alone will keep us safe, but because the muttering of our prayers can be heard over the blaring air raid sirens; because, in the face of our enemy’s genocidal ambitions, the Jewish people are full of life. With steady footing on the fragile brink of war, believers swayed and sang in celebration of Shabbat, as our soldiers marched onward in defense of those beliefs, or irrespective of them. With trust in word and courage in deed, the Jewish nation is prepared to defend itself, however we must, from whatever we must.
Tens of thousands of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers have been called to the front to defend our Land, our people, our very way of life. Already the world is rallying against our exploitation of the inalienable right of self-defense, preferring we continue to suffer beneath the barrage of unprovoked rocket fire. Accept, they insist, that living in fear is simply a consequence of a having Jewish state. For them, the Jew who refuses to be relegated to a sub-human existence and instead throws off the yolk of oppression is an anomaly. The audacity of such obstinacy, according to this perverted logic, validates the very disdain with which they view us.
With fervor and conviction, they already demand we reach a cease-fire, having yet fulfilled our mission’s objectives. With hollow moral high ground, they take to the streets in denouncement of our defensive actions, even as the massacre of Syrians continues unabated, reaching nearly 40,000 people. Straight-faced and seemingly coherent, they insist we return to the status quo, which now places the lives of every single Israeli under the suffocating umbrella of the threat of terrorism. Even as rockets fall on Tel Aviv, even as they sail toward Jerusalem, their self-righteousness mandates we resign ourselves to complacency. With every interception by the Iron Dome, with every air strike, every mission, may they be reminded of this new reality and may it resonate to the core of their deep-rooted prejudices.
History is the ultimate educator. Yet, these people so drastically fail to comprehend the lessons that are so easily understood by the Jewish people: when you have everything to lose, you will stop at nothing to preserve it. A “past” of persecution only validates a “present” of purpose. Civilizations that tried to defeat us were buried beneath the dust by the Hands of Time. We towered over the Babylonian exile and triumphed over the will of Nazis. The history pages of the “People of the Book” are filled with miraculous tales of survival, and there is still so much more to be written.
This is a nation born from the blood, sweat, and ashes of a persecuted people, who will never again allow its existence to depend on the goodwill of others. We are cut from the same cloth of those who worshipped clandestinely during the Inquisition. We are of the same ilk that lit Shabbat candles beneath the cloak of darkness in the ghettoes. We are a people whose identity was never lost, whose belief never waivered, even as we were faced with extinction time after time. We were here long before this hatred was born, and we will be here long after it dies.
In these times of uncertainty, may we be consoled by the path that lay behind us and inspired by that which lay ahead. May the aim of our shots be true, may the voice of our prayers be clear. May we stare down the scowl of danger, may we smile in the face of adversity. May we stand proudly before our enemies, firmly in the footsteps of thousands of years of ancestry. May the people of our great nation remember that it is the blood of survivors that courses through our veins…
And that blood is not cheap…