Kendall Wigoda

Day 56: Why Israel should matter for Jews everywhere

Okay, you don’t want to live here. That’s fine. It isn’t for everyone. Sunshine 300+ days a year, world-class beaches, cute little mountains that are skiable maybe four weeks a year, world-class cuisine, great nightlife, extraordinary hiking not unlike the Grand Canyon, fresh fruits and vegetables that are mostly sold in season and taste even better than they look. And finally, a quality of life that hasn’t existed in North America since the 1950s. 

I know, I know, it’s not for everyone. You have made that very clear. The question is: are you in denial or simply oblivious?

You should be aware that, without those of us who chose to live in Israel, there would be nothing to protect you from the tsunami of antisemitism that is crashing on the shores of wherever you live outside of Israel today. 

If the news reports are accurate, how does it feel to be so helpless and insecure? While some of you know your history thoroughly, a significant number of you do not. Otherwise you would have less fear when wearing a Star of David on a chain around your neck. Or what about spending $60,000 plus a year to go to Harvard or Columbia and then realizing that the antisemitism is so overt that you are too afraid to leave your dorm to go to class. It must be frightening to know so little of your history that you can’t counter the vapid accusations of the poorly informed haters. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend you’re not Jewish. 

Antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, which are really the same thing (of course you can’t explain to anyone why that is), are not going away. Here we are, almost 80 years after the Holocaust and we are back to square one. My mother-in-law was born in Berlin in 1932 just in time to get a front-row seat for the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. Now here she is at 91 and she says it’s happening again. That’s why Holocaust survivors continuously remind us that those who ignore the past are destined to repeat it.  

Approximately 250,000 Holocaust survivors are still alive. They can’t believe how much the anti-Jewish rhetoric from 80 years ago is back. They were born into an antisemitic world and they are going to take their last breaths in an antisemitic world. Nothing has changed. Antisemitism and anti-Israel bias are alive and well. They never left; they just went underground. How should you know what to believe when Kanye West, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Susan Sarandon – the intellectual giants of the 2020s  – and others, with millions and millions of social media followers are doing their best to get their hate message out there? 

Who has the energy to search for the truth when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of a pending European Union member country, calls Hamas freedom fighters?

It’s all a redux, except this time there’s Israel. And modern Israel was born with a strong, clear memory of what the world looked like when we were a people in exile. The early modern-day Israelis promised themselves that they would never be weak again. And they have lived that promise everyday since. The truth isn’t ambiguous. This isn’t a war of equal wrongdoing. There is no moral equivalence. We are fighting for our lives and yours. You would be smart to remember where you came from. A Google search will help you with that. Antisemitism and anti-Israel, call it what you want, is threatening all of us.

There is one other thing that is not ambiguous. You can rest assured that when Israelis finish this existential fight, they are going to the beach. Even if you aren’t staying, you’d be wise to go with them for a little while. 

About the Author
I spent 15 years as a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professional in Canada before making Aliyah in 2002. Since then I have written freelance articles for Israeli newspapers, written lots of marketing communication pieces and taught a lot of English. Sometimes life here is funny and sometimes it is sad, but mostly there's a lot of weird and wonderful moments.
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