Reflecting on conflict in Israel from an ocean away

By Gavriel Siman-Tov
Community Shaliach

This month, everything going on in Israel and in the world affected me. I was glued to the news and to my phone, trying to know everything there is to know, to make sure everything is safe. To be so far away from home, you get to know what it’s like to feel helpless, there is nothing you can do, but you want to do so much.

Growing up in Israel, this reality, or should I say this absurd reality, is your reality, is what you are used to. This is what you learn in school, like how long you have to get to the bomb shelter and where it’s located. You get used to having a security guard at the entries to the mall and in the train station. I could never explain that feeling I had the first time I was abroad and just walked into a mall without my bag being checked. That was just so unusual and weird for me. I know how bizarre that might sound, but that’s my reality. 

This month, I was thinking about my life, about growing up in Israel. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my childhood in Israel for anything in the world, but thinking back, it was kind of an unusual childhood to any child outside of Israel. 

I was thinking back to my first bus ride, and I can only remember myself going on the bus when I was 12 or older, and I’m trying to think, ‘OK, wait, why was I so anti-buses until I was 12?’ And also then a friend convinced me to go on one. And then it popped into my head – growing up, you heard on the news about a lot of suicide bombers exploding on buses in Israel, and now I realize why I didn’t go on a bus. I feared for my life. And honestly back then, not my parents or anyone else showed fear.They were just avoiding buses and keeping on with their daily life because this is what we do, this is who we are.

This month had me speechless, showing me how much people can hate and without any reason.

Why was there a 400% increase in anti-Semitism, people getting hurt because they think differently and have different beliefs? 

Why has this become a trend to support a terror organization?

Why people can no longer think for themselves and blindly follow influencers that became famous because they can dance, not because they are experts in the Middle East?

Let me ask you for one thing, and ask you one more question: Think before you make up your mind, and do some extra research. What can you do to spread free love?

To watch Gavriel's speech at the virtual Stand with Israel vigil, click here.