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Marc Kornblatt
Writer, Filmmaker, Citizen

In Nothing We Trust

What is true? I ponder the hostages, Bibi's trial, Biden's well-being, Trump's claims, and my 'friend' from Gaza who doubts the events of October 7th

The words came at me the other day as I walked through a park near my Tel Aviv home. In seconds, they were gone with the guy on a scooter who wore them on his t-shirt: “In Nothing We Trust.”

Born and raised in America, I know the words “In God We Trust” well. They appear on the one-dollar bill. Francis Scott Key coined the phrase, “In God is our trust,” when he wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the phrase “In God We Trust” as the national motto in 1956.

In Nothing We Trust” hit a soft spot.

Take the Israel-Hamas War. How many hostages are still alive? Does Hamas know where they all are? How many Palestinians have been killed? How many of them were children? What does a permanent ceasefire mean? Do people who chant “From the River to the Sea” only want freedom for Palestinians, or do they also want to eradicate Jews? Is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible for the security lapses that led to the October 7 invasion?  What about the court cases against him for accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust? Will there be an actual trial?

In Nothing We Trust  

Take the US presidential campaign. Does Joe Biden seriously believe that his performance at the first debate was merely a bad night brought on by a cold and jetlag? Is he deluded in believing that he is the “chosen one” to protect Democracy from an assault by Trump and his true-believers? Is he entirely convinced that only he can win the next election? And what about the fate of America if he loses? Does he care?

As for Donald Trump, does he really believe the 2020 election was stolen from him? Were his more than 2,000 supporters who tried to stop the official counting of the election results on January 6, 2021, in fact, well-meaning patriots? Will he pardon all of those sent to prison for storming the Capitol if he becomes president? Does Trump actually care about the common man, or are his MAGA voters all suckers and losers? Does he think the Gaza hostages are suckers and losers, too?

In Nothing We Trust

Take the young father from Gaza that I met at Tel Aviv’s central bus station two years ago. I was on my way to Ashkelon, he was headed for Gaza City. After he returned to Tel Aviv, we met for coffee. He told me he was visiting on a work permit to help build the city’s lightrail system. He struck me as a gentle man, open and sincere.

We lost touch after his permit lapsed and he returned home. Then came October 7.

This past April, I messaged the young Gazan on Facebook to let him know that I was thinking of him and hoped he and his family were well. I also admitted to him that I wondered if earlier he had come to Tel Aviv to spy on us for Hamas like other Gazans did in the south.

He messaged me back, insisting that he was not a terrorist, that he was a peaceful person who had come to my city in good faith. He said that he believed Israelis were good, peaceful people who loved their children and life. 

After the IDF rescued four hostages from a refugee camp in central Gaza in June, the man from Gaza messaged me on Facebook. (The language errors are his.) 

 “I am very surprised how resistance deal with Jewish prisoners,” he wrote, “and in the same time how Jews treat our prisoners!”

To which I wrote back: “‘Resistance’ came to rape, decapitate, and kill. How many hostages have died in the hands of ‘Resistance’?” 

“Until now there is no evidence about this actions,” he replied. “Do you have real evidence about rape and decapitate?”

“You question what happened on October 7?”

“Yes.”

While we argued back and forth about the invasion, I felt like I was talking with a MAGA supporter about the 2020 election, or with Joe Biden about his fitness for office. The Gazan’s facts sounded fake. Still, we ended on a positive note. He called me his friend, someone he could trust, and we agreed that we hoped for peace and looked forward to meeting one day for coffee.

Is he truly my friend? Will we ever meet again?

That t-shirt I saw in the park haunts me, as do the ubiquitous posters of the hostages I see on my walks every day.

“In Nothing We Trust” may be the motto of our times.

About the Author
Filmmaker, playwright, actor, and children's book author Marc Kornblatt is the producer/director of the award-winning documentaries DOSTOEVSKY BEHIND BARS, STILL 60, WHAT I DID IN FIFTH GRADE, and LIFE ON THE LEDGE, among others, and more than 20 web series, including MINUTE MAN, ROCK REGGA, THE NARROW BRIDGE PROJECT, and BLUE & RED, RESPECTFUL ENCOUNTERS OF THE POLITICAL KIND. His latest picture book, MR. KATZ AND ME, is forthcoming from Behrman House. He and his wife made Aliyah in 2019 and now live in Tel Aviv.
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