How strange life in Israel and the Jewish world is! Last Wednesday, following my participation in the meeting of the Board of the Claims Conference for Material claims against Germany, and before catching my flight back to Israel, I had the pleasure to sit with you in a new York Restaurant over dinner. Aside from the pleasure it always is to spend time with you, it was a deserved opportunity for us to reflect on the amazing achievement that brought about your election to the Zionist Executive. It was a well-deserved reward to you personally for all your commitment to the Labor Zionist Principles and your determination to work for a better Zionist movement in the coming years.
We parted at 9pm New York time, and just four hours later, while sitting on the plane at JFK, with a delayed take off because of a thunderstorm over New York, I get a phone call informing me of a rocket attack on my home at Machanayim and throughout the Upper Galilee. I have to then turn off the phone and endure a 12-hour flight with no contact with my home and family, and no idea what is happening in my beloved Galilee.
And so, less than 24 hours after we sit at a delightful Manhattan restaurant I am back at Machanayim and in the thick of the Hizballa missile attack on the north of the country.
In this day of the Internet, you and all your chaverim are updated and aware of all that is happening here. You also prove that we are indeed one people of which half live in the State of Israel, but the other half, no less committed to the State, are spread out throughout the many communities of the world. I know only too well from the experience of those hours on the plane and being on schlichut during the First Gulf War, just how traumatic and difficult it is for a Jew to follow events from so faraway.
What I would like to convey to you and all the chaverim is the spirit and feeling in the country during these difficult times.
These past few years we (in Israel) have been accused (and many of us thought correctly so) of having lost a lot of the pioneering spirit of yesteryear; that we were becoming too Americanized; a growing social gap; commodity driven society striving for more and more shopping malls, electronic gadgets, trips abroad, less and less youngsters serving in compulsory army service and even less continuing on to miluim (reserves). Even respectable Israeli politicians such as Yossi Beilin had questioned the need for a Jewish Agency and World Zionist Movement; a new movement had developed calling for Israel to loose its Zionist tag and become just a state for all its citizens.
The past days since the latest outbreak of violence has seen many examples to prove that Zionism is far from dead, and that Israelis still believe that they are responsible for each other.
After spending the last few days on the kibbutz I can tell you that the spirit of the members is strong; the same is true in Kiryat Shmona, where my parents live and I have been visiting daily. But the spirit and unity doesn’t end there. The volunteering spirit throughout the country is truly admirable. Families all over the country have been opening their homes to take in families (not refugees) from the North, seeking a few days respite from the missile barrage.
Of course the violence has spread further afield than the Galilee; you all know that Haifa, Afula, Nazaareth, as well as Nahariya, Acco and Habonim Dror kibbutzim (Kfar Hanassai, Machanayim, Gesher Haziv, Amiad, Kfar Blum) have been drawn into the conflict. But the huge majority of the population everywhere is adamant and strong enough to ”stick it out” and give the IDF the required time to rid us once and for all from the threat of the Hizballa from our northern border.
The knowledge that we enjoy your support (and all the communities throughout the Jewish world) gives us the strength to carry on and face all our enemies. Never before has there been a greater personification of the fact that we are 12,000,000 people from various backgrounds but with one common uniting cause, the love of, and identification with the Jewish State; the State of Israel.