The massacre of October 7, 2023, will never be forgotten. The pain, the fear, the rage inspired in us against Hamas and those who armed and trained and supported them are all justified. The need to take action to ensure Israelis are never again targeted is justified. But pain, fear and rage will only take us so far. These emotions destroy, they do not build. They lead to despair.
As I need to remind myself daily, hourly, we cannot afford to despair. At times the pain seems overwhelming. We are all still grieving. Yet for those of us still among the living, there is much to do. We must ensure our soldiers and our captives return to a country able to honor them. A country able to ensure this never happens again. And for this future to be realized, our victory cannot be driven by vengeance. It has to be driven by a collective commitment to a better future.
I have hope because of three interlocking developments: proof of the resilience of Israeli society, the strength of our border-line communities, and the opportunity for peace.
I have hope because of the resilience of Israeli society. Israel was closer than ever to a civil war on October 6, 2023. Until the gruesome massacre, it seemed Israel would fall from within. Israel post-October 7 is more united than Israel pre-January 4. Many who warned against an outbreak of anarchy in Israel now recognize that Israel would be lost but for those same voluntary groups. Thank our Creator that anarchy is embedded in Israeli DNA. Otherwise, the tragic ineptitude of this government’s response would have broken us.
This cause for hope has a practical implication: we need to rebuild our government institutions to reflect the resilience of Israeli society. We have learned the government Israel needs should not govern by dictate (‘Meshilut’), but through empowerment (‘Atzmaut’). As we rebuild, we need to double down on rebuilding political institutions to strengthen the civic impulse that inspired so many to come together for rescue and rehabilitation. We need our institutions to reflect our reliance on Israel’s non-Jewish citizens who care for us in hospitals and pharmacies and supermarkets. We need a political architecture that honors our integration with a Diaspora we’ve relied upon to ensure we have the money and material we have needed to respond.
I have hope because of the strength of our border-line communities. It is hard to imagine the pain and anguish felt by those who lost so much, who are still waiting for their loved ones to be returned. It is equally inspiring to see those same pioneers rising from their refuge to return to their fields, to milk their cows, joined by Israelis of all stripes. Until October 6, 2023, these same communities were seen to be the backwater of Israel. Underinvested in. Begging the Supreme Court to force the government to build them sufficient shelters.
Until October 6, we believed the periphery would only survive if it was better connected to Israel’s vibrant center. We have learned that it is the other way around: Israel’s urban core will break without the strategic resources of the border communities.
This cause for hope has a practical implication: we need to rethink Israel’s relationship with our heartland – those communities we rely upon for our food, our ecological security, our physical security. We have learned how much the Israeli dream relies on their thriving, and cannot allow them to fall victim to Hamas’s destruction or Hizbullah’s threats. This will require us to create new institutions and pathways connecting the center to the heartland to ensure all Israelis can participate in the pioneering work of caring for our land, for our society, for our security.
I have hope because the world joins us in our demand for peace. Despite the fog of war, one thing is clear: most members of the OECD agree Israel must end the threat from Hamas. The leaders recognize a ceasefire will only mean another, more deadly outbreak of hostilities in the near future. This means everyone’s eyes are on how this ends with Peace. A peace that can only exist if Hamas is no more.
This cause for hope has a practical implication: we need to affirm that the purpose of our war effort is to secure peace. For both our peoples. For peace, we need to defeat Hamas. We also need to commit that once Hamas is no more, we will enable the conditions for Gaza to flourish. This means working more closely with the international community to create a demilitarized Gaza, integrated into international trade, a symbol of hope. We need to take the outstretched hand of the United States and Saudi Arabia and align actions with that hope of Peace.
To honor our dead, to care for our wounded, to strengthen the efforts to return our captives to a country they would want to live in, we cannot give into despair. Our people have lived through horrible tragedies, and built new futures in response. Today that task is on us, and as hard as it is, we should have no doubt we are up to it.
How can you activate hope? As global public opinion becomes flooded by anti-Israel propaganda, those of us who want to engage in the work of public diplomacy should focus our message on why winning this war is the prerequisite for hope for all people in the region.
- Focus on a goal that gives hope: Every call to action, every message we share, should be tied to what we hope for: The end of the War. The return of captives. The rebuilding of our heartland communities. Peace. People will join causes that inspire hope. Hope inspires the hard work needed to attain each and every one of these goals. Sacrifices are made worth it by the importance of the goal and the hope it inspires.
- Turn away from hate: It is natural to be filled with utter hate and revulsion for those who massacre innocents and for those who celebrate the massacre. No harsh words will convince them that they are wrong. Expressing hate makes us feel temporarily powerful, but eventually harms us mentally. Turn away from hate, because the more you focus on the haters, the less you focus on ensuring the sacrifices being made for us are honored in a better future.
- Strengthen those who share our hopes: Too many of us have been dragged down to the depths of despair by the violence on October 7, and the violence across the world targeting Jews since. We need to publicize those attacks to shame and ensure justice is done to the perpetrators, but we need to do so while highlighting that there is an alternative: an Israel at peace with its neighbors, at peace with itself, dedicated towards building a better life for Israeli and Gazan innocents who know fear and pain and violence no more.