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Kyle Blank

Sixty-Two Days

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip (AP)

On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked my country. I was an American. I believed in freedom. I was nine years old.

Targeting all Americans, because our resolute belief in Liberty, Democracy, and Freedom of Personal Expression threatened them to the core, al Qaeda rained down death upon us indiscriminately. That I was a child was irrelevant to al Qaeda. I could have been on a plane or in a tower. To al Qaeda I was a legitimate target. I was nine years old.

On July 12, 2006, I was 14 years old and at summer camp in Israel when terrorists attacked the country I was in. I believed in a sustainable peace. Hezbollah believed Israel should cease to exist. Israel was targeted because it believed in its right to exist in peace. We were targeted because we are Jews. At 11:44 AM, Hezbollah’s rockets bombarded my friends and me. To Hezbollah I was a legitimate target. I was 14 years old.

Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations, have been targeting freedom and peace, America and Israel, Jews and all others, for many years. I might have been in any of the places that terrorists attacked, maimed and killed. To the terrorists, I was a legitimate target. I was a child.

SIXTY TWO DAYS.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas attacked Israel. I am an Israeli, a Jew, a husband, and father. Hamas sees my son as a legitimate target. He was sixty-two days old.

Living in Tel Aviv we were the lucky ones as only missiles fell across the city. At  6:30 AM on the morning of the attack we heard the sirens. Grabbing my son and running into the hallway of our building, sheltering in the safest place available, staying away from any windows, we waited – Hamas continuing to attack. To Hamas, my son is a legitimate target. He is two months old!

We now know the facts, Hamas rushed the border with thousands of terrorists. They attacked families, children, grandparents, Jews and Muslims. Murdering, raping, burning babies alive, lighting cars on fire with their passengers still inside, mutilating, desecrating, and kidnapping. Over 1,200 individuals were killed and over 240 individuals were kidnapped. Those killed or taken included grandmothers and grandfathers, girls and boys, teenagers and babies – all legitimate targets to Hamas.

My son was blessed to be in Tel Aviv. Hamas ‘only’ infiltrated roughly 22 communities – Tel Aviv was too far north to reach on the ground. We were blessed to hold our son close to our chests while sirens blared with impending missiles. Others were terrorized – face to face – by brutal, genocidal terrorists.

These are the FACTS.

My son is now 124 days old – he has doubled in age since this began. He has lived days and weeks longer than hundreds of innocent people in Southern Israel whose lives were cut short. We know where he is. We believe we can keep him safe.

When a militant group claiming to be “freedom fighters” attacks soldiers we can have a debate about semantics. When Hamas livestreams the torture of the elderly, mothers, children, pregnant women, and babies – leaving their mutilated corpses and burnt bodies strewn across fields and cities – they are unequivocally TERRORISTS.

Instead of his crib, my two-month old son was sleeping on the cold, hard floor of a bomb shelter for weeks as Hamas missiles continued to fall from the sky above our home. This was my only way of keeping him safe.

Whatever political or religious debates one had before the 7th of October, arguing for or against the claim that Hamas are freedom fighters, in an effort to find clarity in an extremely complicated geopolitical and multiracial topic – those debates can no longer exist. When innocent women were attacked, raped, burnt alive, and kidnapped, there is no debate. Not on social media. Not on college campuses. Not in the news. No past grievance justifies any single one of the thousands of atrocities Hamas committed.

Hamas was hiding about 40 babies and children – held captive in Gaza – ripped away from their families – many that are still not home. This past year my classmates from Harvard Business School became mothers and fathers to roughly the same number of babies that Hamas kidnapped. If you are one of these newly blessed parents, look at your newborn son or daughter, and for just a moment close your eyes, and see what those in Israel saw as Hamas grabbed babies out of their cribs. Go somewhere quiet and hear the screams of your husband or wife as you see terrorists stealing your son or daughter. Unimaginable pain. Pain that will never end and has no boundaries. These are the facts. These are legitimate targets to Hamas. These are our babies.

Over 1,200 people were brutally slaughtered. Images so awful, so depraved, they seem impossible. Blood, bodies, bullet holes, ashes – all that remained of those murdered by Hamas. More than 1,200 people – roughly 200% of our graduating class. Now, just close your eyes, sit quietly, and imagine. If you were my classmate you would be dead or kidnapped. I am asking my professors, university administrators, all of Harvard University, to imagine every single student in the HBS graduating class of 2022 walking into commencement, and never walking out.

I know that Israel must continue to respond with force. I know, as you know, that there will be civilians in Gaza who are killed during this crisis. But when the world calls for Israel to slow down, or presidents and premiers claim that Israel is responding with disproportionate force, close our eyes and see what they saw. Remember the brutality described above. Never forget.

Every life is precious and every life lost is tragic. Death emanating from this massacre belongs to Hamas. Hamas who murders anyone who gets in their way – including Gazans. Hamas uses two million Gazan civilians as human shields, fired more than 1,000 rockets over the past two months that hit Gazan civilians, and fires upon Gazans in established “safe passage” corridors fleeing northern Gaza for safety in southern Gaza. If there is blood on the ground it is dripping from the hands of Hamas.

My brother waits in Israel near the border with Gaza preparing to rescue the hostages that are still alive. To save lives. To protect the innocent.

No one should be fooled by Hamas releasing a few hostages, they are cynically playing on your emotions, hoping any sign of hope will push you to advocate for cessation of Israel’s duty to its people. Hamas needs to be destroyed. Americans, British, Germans, French, and many more knew ISIS had to be obliterated, never to return. Hamas is ISIS. But do not forget the 240+ innocent hostages.

New numbers will start being counted. December 7, 2023 – 62 days in captivity. 62 days of being tortured. 62 days.

I am American. I am Israeli. I believe in Democracy. I believe in my Jewish faith. I respect many beautiful faiths from around the world.

I expect decency – and when the world is confronted with evil – as we have with the Nazis, ISIS, al Qaeda, and Hamas – there is only one path forward. This evil needs to be destroyed. Completely. Everywhere.

I expect you – Democracy believers – to stand up for the truth. When you walk by an anti-Israel, pro-Hamas rally anywhere in the world, scream, “Shame on you!”  As Hamas sympathizers rip down and deface posters of the kidnapped – history reminds us that this happened in Nazi Germany.

I do not ask for complete support of Israel – but I demand a complete rejection of Hamas.

Our children should not have to count how many times they were targets for terrorists.

Yet, my son’s count has started.

About the Author
Kyle grew up in the New York area and moved to Israel on his own at the age of 18 to volunteer in the IDF and MDA. He holds a BA from IDC Herzliya (Reichman University) and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has spent the past 10-years working in consulting and venture capital. Kyle is the Executive Director of The Discretionary Fund of Israel (DFI), a nonprofit focused on aiding Israel during times of crisis. Kyle lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and son.
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