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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

A Sobering Reality

(but still hopeful)

“. . . The cause of Israel drew a multitude of Americans to the historic West Front of the U.S. Capitol, where Israeli flags fluttered by the score, thousands of signs signaled support, and speakers at the podium and in the crowd voiced vigorous defenses of the country’s right to strike back against Palestinian bomb attacks aimed at its civilians. . .”

Although that sounds like a description of what’s happening today, the above piece was from a Washington Post article about a pro-Israel rally that I attended in April 2002 via bus from my daughter’s Connecticut school. Benjamin Netanyahu was the keynote speaker and he spoke brilliantly to the hundreds of thousands of Israel supporters present. Netanyahu was so loved back then.

At the time, Israel was dealing with its newest until-then-unimaginable danger: suicide bombers. It was hot as blazes that day and people were passing out from dehydration. In fact, in my memory, dehydration was really the only risk during the event. There might have been some troublemakers lurking, but this was the USA after all. No fear of any real problems in 2002.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was scheduled to attend the rally this year via one of the Toronto chartered planes, both cancelled at the last minute (long story for another day). In the days leading up to the rally, when I mentioned to friends and some members in the USA that I would be attending, the reaction was identical from many: Be careful, please be careful, are you sure you want to go? No one would have advised me as such in 2002. Back then, we were the safe ones. We were in the Diaspora and the trouble for the Jewish people was isolated in Israel. In that, we have progressed. And not in a good way.

On the other hand, re-reading the 2002 article from the Washington Post, I was struck by two things, two incredible similarities between then and now. The first is a sad and sobering one. Israel is still in trouble, Israel is still in danger, still under threat of not only the bombs (even worse now), but by the increased anti-Israel world opinion. The second similarity I noted was extremely comforting. Even though we still have enemies, the Jewish community still comes out in force. When the air traffic controllers cancelled our two Toronto planes, we were told that 40 charters had been cancelled. Simply too much traffic coming in to Washington DC.

When all is said and done, the Israeli national anthem is “HaTikvah” The Hope. No matter what is happening, we have belief in a positive outcome. We have faith that G-d is on our side. We have the strength to get up and speak out. We have the brains to put together rallies and fund-raising projects and support initiatives for our Israeli brothers and sisters. And mostly, we have our crazy, wonderful, unshakable, stronger-than-anything HOPE. Let’s bring the hostages home!

Am Yisrael Chai!

Note: About half of the 400 passengers on the cancelled charters managed to get to DC after all. Some jumped in their cars last night and drove all night. Some drove to Buffalo and flew this morning. Others picked up commercial flights today which necessitated an overnight stay in the US, and others got there by other means. We are an Unstoppable People.