Ariella Cohen

Where have all the good men gone?

Sitting here on this eve of Yom Hazikaron, my heart is feeling very heavy. I am trying to wrap my head around the magnitude of the loss that we as a nation have dealt with and continue to deal with. I can’t. But I still try. I heard today (from what I think is a reliable source) that Israel has lost almost 700 soldiers since the last Yom Hazikaron. Thinking deeply into what that really means is painful. But I do it anyway.

I generally think of Yom Hazikaron as a day to take a step back and really think about the heroes who have given their lives so that we could continue living ours. This year is obviously different though. Hardly a day has gone by over the past seven months that I haven’t thought about this. Even if just in passing. It’s front and center of everyone’s minds along with several other less than pleasant topics.

One of these topics that I’m pretty sure everyone would like to sweep under the rug and that has been difficult for me to grapple with these past couple of weeks is the encampments (and subsidiary raucousness) on college campuses around the US. Antisemitism on campuses is not a new thing, but the encampments brought it to a whole new level for me. This in conjunction with Yom Hazikaron is tough to handle.

After hearing about what took place on Penn’s campus after the encampment was forcibly taken down after multiple warnings, I felt my blood start to boil. It’s really hard to be so mad about something when there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. So I talk about it and write about it and take deep breaths, but that doesn’t make the problem go away. And quite frankly, I’m not sure what will.

The way that utter falsehood has begun to reign as truth in America and around the world is a very scary thing. Possibly more than scary though, it is maddening. I was reading some Facebook comments on one of Penn’s posts about how all sorts of law enforcement officials were brought in to dismantle the encampment. The comments were shocking but not shocking because this is Facebook we’re talking about. There was a thread that discussed how awful it is that these students were not being given the right to protest the genocide. After all, their tuition was going straight to support bombs which were being used to kill their brethren in Gaza. Really? Surely Penn is wiring tuition money directly over to Israel so that we can make more bombs and mindlessly drop them. If this was not such a serious situation, such ideas would be laughable.

But this has become the truth of a portion of today’s youth. I am very sure that these delusional individuals are a small minority, but they are the ones making waves. I don’t think there is all that much for the silent majority to do because no matter how much counter protesting there is, the Pro-Palestinians are not about to change their tune. And their Pro-Jewish counterparts are not going to destroy other people’s property like wild animals and scream like maniacs to prove their point. So there isn’t exactly a great solution.

Bonnie Tyler asked an excellent question in her song Holding Out for a Hero (which I will take slightly out of context and expand to include women.) Where have all the good men gone? I wish I knew. Where are they? They might be screaming at the top of their lungs, but we can’t hear them over all the screeching falsehood. So what do we do about it? I don’t have a good answer. But what I do because there is no other option is hold up my own truth and support those who are speaking truth.

In a metaphorical way, all of the soldiers we have lost spoke truth. They died for our land which is the epitome of truth. So as I think about the youth of the encampments and the fictional narrative they are violently attempting to spread to the world, I try to drown that out with images of the soldiers who represented the ultimate truth. Their forced silence speaks louder than words. ה’ יקום דמם.

About the Author
Ariella Cohen grew up in Far Rockaway, NY and made Aliyah from Bala Cynwyd, PA in August 2023. She is an engineer and amateur musician with lots of other hobbies on the side.
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