Daniel Raphael Silverstein
Rabbi, educator, meditation teacher and MC/poet.

A Letter to the Diaspora

Image of mutual support from krakenimages

We are one people.

As we have been reminded yet again so painfully: United we stand, divided we fall.

May we never need reminding again.

We need you, and you need us.

But what does it mean to be a part of this people, in this pivotal historic moment?

There are some things that seem relatively clear from here in Israel, that may not be as clear to all of our friends and family around the world, so I wanted to share them.

1. About the Past

The war Hamas started on October 7 did not really begin on that day.

There are many plausible starting points. Some might suggest the birth of the Israeli state in 1948, or the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.

Some might view the conflict as beginning with the riots and massacres of the 1920’s, in which Arab mobs were incited by religious and political leaders to commit barbaric acts of murder and rape against the Jewish population, including many defenseless women and children.

These events precipitated the creation and development of the Haganah (“The Defense”), which eventually evolved into the Israel Defense Forces.

They also marked the start of the Arab strategy of violently rejecting any Jewish presence in the land. Following this strategy, Arab leaders rejected compromise with the Jewish leadership, and then Israel, in 1947, 1967, 2000 and 2008, hence causing great tragedy for Arabs and Jews alike.

Every one of those dates marks a Jewish or Israeli willingness to partially acknowledge the Arab narrative and claim to the land, and to share the land accordingly. In each case, the Arab and Palestinian leadership dismissed the possibility of peaceful settlement, and chose the path of continued conflict.

This policy of violent rejectionism remains virtually unchallenged among Palestinians and their supporters today, to disastrous effect.

The dominant narrative of “liberation” espoused not only by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but also the Palestinian Authority, is one that envisions Palestinian rule over the entire land. There is no acknowledgement in this narrative of any Jewish connection to the land, or acceptance of the possibility of Jewish autonomy.

The media outlets, school textbooks and other educational materials used by Palestinians are strictly policed according to their compliance with this officially sanctioned ideology. They routinely claim there was never any Jewish Temple, all the Prophets of the Hebrew Bible were in fact Palestinian, and Jews are a European people who should return to Europe.

In fact, a majority of Israeli Jews are of Middle Eastern and African descent, whose families were violently forced to leave their Arab countries of origin, and whose very substantial possessions were seized by those countries.

Too many Palestinians and their sympathizers are not willing to admit to this basic truth. They hold fast to the claim that the Jews are a group of European colonizers, who can and will be forced to return from whence they came.

This is how most Palestinians are indoctrinated, and the “decolonization” they seek is not theoretical or nonviolent. Heinous acts of Palestinian terror and brutality against Israelis and Jews are frequently re-enacted with great pride at schools and on official television stations. Hamas, in particular, is notorious for running schools and camps where young children are brainwashed and conditioned to not only hate, but to kill Israelis and Jews.

2. About the Future

Looking ahead, it seems likely Israel will soon face aggression from the Iranian proxy armies and militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, as well as Gaza, each intent on annihilating Israel’s citizens.

They are funded, armed and trained by the same Iranian regime which questions the veracity of the Holocaust and has repeatedly threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.”

Hezbollah, the strongest of these terror armies, possesses an estimated 150,000 rockets, and 60,000 soldiers, and is widely considered to be the most powerful non-state actor in the world.

Depending on what happens when these Iranian proxies engage with Israel, direct conflict between Iran and Israel is quite possible.

These terror armies and their Iranian patrons all share a complete disregard for the wellbeing of their own people, a fanatical religious commitment to ridding our land of “infidels”, and a bloodlust for perpetrating the kind of atrocities we saw from Hamas on October 7.

To face all these foes simultaneously and successfully, Israel will need all the support it can get, in every sphere of the war – military, political, diplomatic, informational, logistical and psychological.

This very small country of around nine million people is facing enemies with far, far greater populations, land bases and natural resources.

Perhaps most difficult of all though, is that Israel’s goal in this conflict is to defend its citizens so that they can live peacefully.

Those we are fighting, on the other hand, are demonstrably willing to sacrifice their own lives, and the lives of the civilians they embed themselves among, in order to kill Israelis.

This is often hard for people who do not live in this region to grasp: For our adversaries, killing us is in itself the ultimate goal.

This makes them very hard to defend against.

Fortunately, the Israel Defense Forces have been planning for this scenario for many years, and I share the confidence of my fellow citizens that we will prevail.

It will not be easy.

Your thoughts, your prayers, your financial contributions and your advocacy efforts will all be absolutely vital to the survival of this country.

As the conflict goes on, antisemitism will continue to rise around the world, and many of you will experience its adverse effects.

This will be exacerbated by the anti-Israel propaganda machine, which, as we have already seen, holds great influence over key media outlets.

In a disturbing echo of our past, we will be accused – as we already have been – of atrocities we have not committed.

It may also happen, that in the course of fighting a genocidal enemy who routinely hides among civilians, that our soldiers may indeed kill many innocent non-combatants.

The overwhelming majority of Israelis absolutely abhor that this is the case.

In this small country, where the army is composed of members of virtually every family, almost nobody ever wants war, unless it is absolutely necessary for our survival.

Tragically, this war has been forced upon us by people who are quite happy to die to attain their goal of our annihilation, and to take with them the unfortunate civilians among whom they hide.

Most of our neighbors do not live in democracies, or societies with free media. Those who dissent from the oppressive policies of their despotic and kleptocratic leaders are brutally silenced.

We know, given the chance, some of them would happily choose to live in peace with us. The miserable reality is that those who value peace and coexistence are not the people in power.

We grieve for their predicament.

However, our first responsibility, as for any people on earth, is to preserve our own lives in the face of the threat posed by their murderous leaders and their savage terror armies.

We hope you will stand with us.

We are one people.

United we stand, divided we fall.

About the Author
Daniel Raphael Silverstein is a rabbi, educator, meditation teacher and MC/poet. He lives in Israel with his family, where he directs Applied Jewish Spirituality, an online portal which makes the transformative spiritual wisdom of our tradition accessible to all who seek it.
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