As part of my job as the eastern director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center I often do media interviews. Given that we are an official non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations and our physical location is down the block from the UN, we get many requests from foreign news agencies. So when I received a call from a German radio station I didn’t think twice about inviting them to our Museum of Tolerance.
When the woman arrived we chatted for a bit and I found out that they represent the German equivalent of NPR in Germany and our conversation would reach over 25 million listeners. The topic was the UN and Israel so I felt fairly confident that I could handle the interview. We sat down in our conference room as she did her sound check. All was ready and here came the first question. “How do you feel the UN has treated YOU” she queried.
I have rarely been left speechless in life, let alone in an interview but there I was stammering “How they’ve treated me?” I quickly asked, “To whom are you referring… me, the Wiesenthal Center, American Jewry?”. She clarified and said “you, the Israelis.” Well there it was, in the span of a few seconds I became an official undocumented representative of the State of Israel. The rest of the interview went fine but I was left a bit shaken.
I came to the realization that the world does not differentiate between being an Israeli and being a Jew. That is why we have seen this recent tsunami of global anti-Semitism. The world looks at all Jews as ambassadors of Israel and therefore responsible for all that occurs there. I immediately started to focus on that new identity that I was given and was overcome with intense sense of pride.
The global community has finally come to terms with the undisputable fact that the Jews have a nation-state of their own. Indeed, every Jew has a connection to Israel, a place to call home. The many years that we spent as a nomadic people, wandering the earth, being expelled from more countries than on a “Risk board”, is over. This should be the silver lining that we take away from recent events. As we go through the deep pain of the war with Hamas terrorists and the growing epidemic of global anti-Semitism, let us focus on the fact that the world finally looks at us, the Jewish people, as a unified strong nation. We will always have each other, and yes, we are all proud Israelis!