Dovid Vigler

When People You Don’t Even Know Hate You—That’s When You Know You’re the Best!

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How Interviewing a Hamas Terrorist Changed the Life of an Israeli Journalist

It seems like the whole world has lost its mind. College students are actively advocating on behalf of Hamas murderers and rapists who would murder them too, given the chance. Governments are cutting ties with Israel. When asked how they feel Israel should have responded to the atrocities of October 7th, they have nothing to say.

It’s shameless antisemitism, the likes of which we have never seen before. It’s not that they love Hamas; it’s just that they hate the Jews. Israel—and world Jewry—is feeling stuck.

In much the same way, our ancestors were also stuck “between a rock and a hard place” when they stood before the Red Sea on their way out of Egypt. With the mighty Egyptian army in hot pursuit and the waters of the Red Sea before them, they had nowhere to turn.

The Midrash tells us that the Jewish people were divided into four camps. There were those who said, “Let us throw ourselves into the sea.” A second group said, “Let us return to Egypt.” A third faction argued, “Let us wage war upon the Egyptians.” Finally, a fourth camp advocated, “Let us pray to G-d.”

Moses, however, rejected all four options, saying to the people, “Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G-d which He will show you today. For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again, forever. G-d shall fight for you, and you shall be silent.” (Exodus 14:13).

It was then that G-d gave them their marching orders: “Speak to the children of Israel,” G-d says to Moses “that they should go forward.” And indeed, as soon as they marched fearlessly into the Red Sea, the waters miraculously parted, clearing their way to the Promised Land.

Much like our ancient ancestors, we too have no choice but to heed G-d’s command and march forward. We can’t allow ourselves to become intimidated by external factors or factions. We have to replace any fear with absolute trust in G-d Almighty—doubling down on our Jewish identity and inviting G-d to bless our military and political efforts as we proceed to victory!

Tzvi Yechezkeli was the Arab affairs reporter for Israel’s News 10 who had made a name for himself by landing sensational interviews with wanted Arab terrorists. He was so comfortably embedded within the Arab world that he decided to attend the funeral of the assassinated deputy of Zakaria Zubeidi, a well-known Hamas terrorist who was on Israel’s most-wanted list.

Yechezkeli didn’t know that Zubeidi, the Jenin chief of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and an arch-terrorist with the blood of dozens of Israelis on his hands, had decided that he would shoot the first Israeli journalist who came to cover the funeral.

“Zubeidi grabbed his gun, took aim… and fired right over my head,” Yechezkeli remembers. “I was stunned, but I decided to try and talk my way out of the crisis. I grabbed his arm and asked him if he’d be willing to talk to me.”

Zubeidi told me, ‘ Who are you anyway? How do you identify?’ I told him that I was an enlightened Israeli and a human being who was willing to share a meal with someone like him.’ “

His answers didn’t satisfy Zubeidi, who proceeded to ask Yechezkeli: “What are you trying to achieve as an Israeli?” Yechezkeli mumbled something about being Jewish and even having Arabic roots, so he was bilingual.

But Zubeidi wouldn’t back down: “But what do you believe in? What is your faith?!” Yechezkeli was stumped. He didn’t understand why religion had anything to do with it. To this secular Israeli, Judaism was a relic of the ancient past. He replied: “Why do I need faith? I am not religious like you are. I am not primitive like the religious zealots you surround yourself with!”

“You don’t consider yourself a Jew?” thundered the terrorist incredulously. “I’ll tell you what you are. You’re a total idiot. Because if I killed you right now, I wouldn’t say that I killed a human, or an Israeli, or a citizen of the world, I would say that I killed a Jew. And what an idiot you are for being killed for something that you don’t even realize you are!

As Yechezkeli stood stunned, Zubeidi continued: “In my eyes, you are simply a Jew. And that’s what you are even in your own eyes. Because the only reason you came to this land is because you are Jewish!”

Click here to watch The Orthodox Israeli journalist who infiltrated the ‘quiet Jihad’:

This interview with the terrorist who tried unsuccessfully to take his life, changed Tzvi Yechezkeli’s life forever. From that moment on, this secular Israeli began to explore his faith, and soon after he became a fully observant Jew. Today, Yechezkeli is one of the most well-known journalists in Israel, sporting his beard and Yarmulke proudly on national television.

When thieves repeatedly break into the same home, the police are certain to ask the owners what precious items the bandits are after. When Jews are surrounded by so much hate, it’s time we acknowledge that the reason they hate us is because we’re Jewish. They know exactly who we are; the question is whether we know who we are!

Haters don’t really hate you as much as they hate themselves, because you’re a reflection of what they wish to be. The reality is that they fear that they’ll never get to the place that you are right now. Instead of cowering away from our Jewish identity, now is the time to embrace it. Like our ancestors who were stuck, now we need to throw ourselves into the loving embrace of G-d, as we fearlessly march forward, proud of our Jewish identity. If you don’t know where you’re going, distractions will look like opportunities.

More than ever before, now is the time for us to celebrate our special relationship with our Father in Heaven, as if our lives depended on it. Now is the time for us to march forward with confidence—knowing that being chosen is not so much because they hate us, as much as it is because He loves us! G-d will split the Sea before us. He will go to battle for us. We are certain to see the greatest victory we’ve ever experienced. All we need to do is to trust wholly in Him and He will deliver.

People will hate you, rate you, shake you, and break you. But how strong you stand is what makes you!

Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens

6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 | 561.624.2223

Instagram @JewishGardens

About the Author
Raised in South Africa and educated in some of the finest Yeshivas in Israel, England, New York, and Australia, Rabbi Dovid Vigler strives to share the beauty and depth of Judaism in a clear, conversational, and down-to-earth manner. Whether in private counseling, relatable sermons, weekly email broadcasts, or in his popular Torah classes on social media, he reaches out to every Jew with unconditional love, patience, and compassion. His inspirational talks and uplifting messages can be found on and
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