Mark Silberstein

Lucky #21

“Nu…Who brings their kids to Israel during a war!?” we heard from our neighbors as we pulled up to our house in Zichron Ya’acov after a 20 hour journey.

For the last six years, two to three times annually, my wife and I schlep our small children (4, 2, 9 months) to our home in Zichron from La Jolla, California where we live. The stunning nature reserves, Shabbats with Israeli family and friends, Kibbutz pools, rugged beaches, cobble stone streets and amazing community make Zichron our home in Israel. There is no place we enjoy more.

Even though we have visited, studied and lived in Israel through some of the toughest times over the last 25 years, bringing our three kids to Israel while rockets rained down was not an easy choice for my wife and I. Logically we knew our kids would be safe but it certainly goes against intuition to get on a plane and fly into daily rocket fire. In the end, for various reasons, we decided to do it. We had an amazing month here, the kids loved Gan and this was one of the most meaningful trips to Israel for our family. The pain and agony of the fallen soldiers was tremendous and I couldn’t imagine not being here during these times. The trip was even more meaningful because we intend to move to Zichron and conflicts like this last one really make us think about what we want for our family and our place in Israel.

Having been in Israel through wars, bombings and turmoil this war felt different. This conflict seems to have stirred up the Jewish hornets nest in the Diaspora. All types of people started to call, email and contact me, during this month long visit. Jews, non-Jews, loosely affiliated Jews, Jews who previously took Israel for granted and people I never even knew were “following” me. For the first time, I was much more active on line trying to get accurate information out and it became apparent that a wide range of people were following my postings and emails. Something struck a cord with this last conflict. Something was exposed in the world’s reaction that seemed to shake the Jews I know.

After the endless discussions with everyone about the “matzav” and reading copious amounts of articles, blogs and posts I tried organize my never ending thoughts. I wanted to try get some perspective and figure out what was different about this last war versus other conflicts Israel has gone through. I finally distilled my thoughts down to 21 short insights, some of which are obvious and some of which may not be. Sometimes, pointing out the obvious is important.

1) Israel is beautiful, strong and not going anywhere. Truly one of the greatest accomplishments of the last century

2) The world is fascinated, unnerved and frantic when they see strong Jews fight and defend themselves.

3) Anti Semitism is real, growing and more sophisticated than previous manifestations. This can make it harder to identify and confront. Our Jewish generation needs to understand it is now our responsibility to confront it. Sidelines are not an option for me.

4) Driving a wedge between the Jewish Homeland and Jews is the main strategy for Anti Semites. This is being done by delegitimizing and isolating the Jewish State.

5) The world does not seem to acknowledge that Israel has legitimate enemies who only want to destroy the Jewish State. Often feels like the world blames Israel for having enemies that want to destroy it.

6) The world doubts Israel’s intentions and morality much quicker than it does any of its enemies. Seems the world needs to see way more Jews killed to understand the true nature of Israel’s enemies. This is absurd.

7) The UN has lost its moral compass and sadly seems to be a reflection of the world.

8) Being a fertile breeding ground for Anti Semitism is just the beginning of European problems. The same enemies and tactics that threaten Israel are rapidly closing in on Europe.

9) Whether they realize it or not, Israel needs Diaspora Jews more than ever before.

10) Whether they realize it or not, Diaspora Jews need Israel more than ever before.

11) Jewish history is written every day in Israel. I am completely captivated by every nook and cranny of Jewish life throughout Israel. Like watching a documentary on the greatest experiment ever conducted of which I have a front row seat and a tiny role in at the same time.

12) Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are world-class cities and look amazing.

13) Whether it is one rocket or 100, your family being shot at in your own home is VERY personal. We got one rocket shot at my family.  People in the south are heroes.

14) This last war showed that it is not about what Jews or Israel does we but rather who we are.

15) After 66 years, Israel has serious challenges to work on, not unlike other modern Democracies. Jews are especially hard on themselves, which causes us to lose some perspective.  What has been built in a short period under unbelievable circumstances is nothing short of a modern day miracle. There is so much to be proud of. Being a proud Jew is empowering.

16) Anti Israel views are being used to legitimize rabid Anti Semitism. The world is falling for this tactic and can’t seem to help but let animosity towards Jews come out.

17) Israel is not perfect. Nothing real is. Israel is very real and will be around long after its enemies that have no future in this modern world.

18) Israel is the largest and only growing Jewish community in the world. If Israel falls, Jewish communities around the world would fall thereafter.

19) To deny Israel’s legitimate right to exist and hold Israel to unreasonable double standards versus other countries derives from it being a Jewish State and is Anti Semitism. Jews have every right to have, defend and fight for a Jewish Homeland. To claim otherwise is absurd.

20) Zionism is a beautiful, living, breathing and evolving thing. It should be something everyone is proud of. Zionism is a form of nationalism like any other country has and to deny or delegitimize it is Anti Semitism.

21) Words can’t describe how proud and awe struck I am seeing young, strong, proud Jews defend Israel. I wasn’t alive during WWII but I see enough present day Jews around the world that are minorities, quiet and increasingly uncomfortable in their communities. A strong Jewish Army means none of them have to be scared and always have options. That has not always been the case.

About the Author
Mark Silberstein was born in Cape Town, South Africa and currently resides in Zichron Ya'acov, Israel . He studied at Tel Aviv University and worked as a Public Relations Director at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles 1999/2000.