Marco Greenberg

US Jews: The good news in bad times

Friends at Vigil for Israel in Pittsfield, Mass earlier this month. Shimi, pictured with Israeli flag on his shoulders, is mourning family members massacred on October 1 at Kibbutz Be’eri. The author is at the far right.
Friends at Vigil for Israel in Pittsfield, Mass earlier this month. Shimi, pictured with Israeli flag on his shoulders, is mourning family members massacred on October 7 at Kibbutz Be’eri. The author is at the far right.

After more than three weeks that have felt like three months, it’s too early for silver linings or declarations of victory. But it’s not too early to acknowledge what’s going right – not just in a resilient and united Israel, but in my own community, the US Jews. Thought to be divided and diminishing, the barbarity of our enemies has emboldened us and brought us together. 

So even though many are still in shock and mourning, and as the efforts continue to free hostages and ensure atrocities like Oct. 7 cannot recur, we can appreciate moments of grace that have emerged. Recounting some gratitude can help alleviate the pain of living in accursed times, and each of us might build their own list.  I’ll present mine in alphabetical order.  

Appreciating the calls from those concerned just saying: I’m thinking of you.

Bolstering ties with non-Jews who want to help and realize that while this universal threat appeared to go into remission for a while, Jihadism is a cancer that must be removed for everyone’s sake. 

Crying for the murdered and maimed, releasing the primal pain of losing loved ones in the most horrific way possible. 

Dancing on Simchat Torah the night after the worst massacre since the Holocaust, remembering through tears the beautiful, vibrant and young Israelis, descended from Jews from every corner of the world, at a music festival dedicated to celebrating dance, love and peace. 

Exposing the “Pro-Palestinian” demonstrators as the “useful idiots” of Hamas, with little genuine concern or even knowledge about Palestinians, and their legitimate democratic and human rights. Just a mob filled with hate for Jews, Israelis, and America.

Forgetting petty disputes with friends, colleagues and family and focusing on what matters. 

Giving money to strangers who are organizing supplies for soldiers and sending Venmo transfers to people we don’t know, whose homes have been destroyed and some of whose families were tortured and then burned to death. 

Honoring Christians and Muslims, atheists and Buddhists, who courageously speak out against the unspeakable atrocities and war crimes committed by Hamas.  

Insisting that conventional formulas about “proportionality” in Israel’s response don’t apply when the unassailable goal is preventing future attacks. 

Joining together with Armenian Americans, African Americans, Indian Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans etc. who have reached out and share a common history of being unfairly targeted.  

Keeping new and old friends close by and cherishing their kindness, support, understanding and prayers.

Loving our children. 

Maintaining our humanity and feeling genuine sorrow when innocent Palestinian civilians are killed.

Noticing “friends” and family who remain silent, or have turned against us, and getting healthy distance rather than trying to convince them or hope they finally “get it.”  

Organizing and creating affinity groups in record time: Jewish doctors and scientists, Jewish actors and entrepreneurs, Jewish billionaires and those on a fixed income, getting out of their lane to proactively speak out and confront injustice. 

Protesting for release of the hostages when too many have forgotten, and having a presence at pro-Israel gatherings, where we are fortunate to have the police at our side. 

Questioning when many in the LGBTQ+, BLM, and the larger “Woke” world, consciously and unconsciously, adopt Hamas as their misguided cause celebre.  

Rediscovering our faith and our people, going to synagogue, caring about Israel or having a Shabbat dinner for the first time in years. 

Saying thanks to US President Biden, the US Congress, the US military and the vast majority of the American people who stand by Israel. 

Transforming ourselves instantly for the task at hand, a phenomenon personified by the Jewish mother Rachel Goldberg, turned into a lioness on the world stage and fighting to bring her beautiful boy home along with all those kidnapped.

Understanding that being proudly Jewish is not a popularity contest, since many don’t like us, and instead it’s about leaning into what makes us both different and yet the same as anyone else. 

Voting against our economic interests, as is our American Jewish tradition, sacrificing professional and monetary gain by putting virtue first, and removing ourselves from events and causes by those squarely against us and Israel. 

Writing open letters and canceling contributions to those colleges, universities and centers of education that have morphed into the worst centers of Jewish hate and where Jewish kids and their supporters are no longer safe. 

X’ing, WhatsApping, FBing, YouTubing and TikToking – using these miracles of technology for good, spreading the word to those still able to hear. 

Yelling back at protesters that chant “Palestine: From the River to the Sea” and calling it out as a call for genocide and incitement to violence. 

Zionistically taking total pride in our identities, American, Israeli, democratic, egalitarian and modern – defenders of Western civilization and the free world. 

Yes, we are fired up and fighting back like never before, from longtime Jewish American families to new immigrants. It’s a cultural thing and it’s in our DNA.  We cast aside the fear of dual loyalty accusations that our grandparents faced, and the self-hate that was sometimes visible in our parents’ generation, and try to give strength to the young Jewish generation as they face intense pressure to toe the anti-Israel party line. 

However, let us remember that the majority of US Jews – of all backgrounds, all political and sexual orientations, all levels of observance and affiliation – are taking off the gloves and punching back. Not to inflict pain but to affirm our right to life. 

We have no time to dwell on the nuances of a complex situation and there’s no cause for lazy “bothsidesism” now.  One side stands for deception, destruction, darkness and death, while ours is about creation and compassion, love and light. And yes, careful, effective, and decisive retaliation.

We’re realistic. We know that too many in the “progressive” left will always demonize Israel. We know that many in the media will instinctively blame Israel without fact-checking. We know that few will be hanging Israeli flags like the ubiquitous blue and yellow Ukrainian ones. We also know some Jews will join the pro-Palestinian mob, and that anti-Semitism will perhaps become even worse. 

But we also have unshakable confidence that most US Jews, like Americans in general and free people everywhere, know that our side is right and that we will win.

About the Author
Marco Greenberg is the senior partner at Thunder 11, a marketing and communications firm, and author of Primitive: Tapping the Primal Drive That Powers the World's Most Successful People (Hachette, 2020).