June 14, 2024
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Israel May Be at War. But We Are in a War Zone

When Oct. 7 happened I was devastated beyond words. Instead of saying “never again” I was asking “once again?” The ghoulishness of the attack topped even what the Nazis had done. The torture was filmed with pride and it made Hitchcock films seem like Disney. Even photographers who participated in the massacres submitted their work to news agencies who then praised their artistic nature. The war was not only in Israel, but here in New York and New Jersey, a place I was born and raised. “It’s justified if you’re occupied.” What?! The rapes, the pedophilia, the beheadings, the necrophilia, the incinerations, the hostage taking. Behaviors that were even beyond those of Charles Manson and Ted Bundy were applauded and glorified.

It was clear to me that the world’s response was all part of another “master plan” of a final solution to rid the world of Jews. The terrorists were not only in Israel but scattered worldwide, preaching their Satan like gospel. As a son of Holocaust survivors, the trauma that was ingrained in my DNA was activated. I won’t go quietly into the gas chamber, I will fight for my life, the lives of my children and my people.

I needed to do something. It was clear to me that every Jew was at war and we could be a victim or a soldier. I needed to join the fight in any way I could. As a stand-up comic I organized a comedy show to raise money for needed supplies for the IDF. I started a daily show on Instagram called “JDLL Jew Defending Life and Liberty,” where I discussed what it feels like to be a Jew post the Holocaust of Oct. 7. It’s clear that so many people get their information from social media so I felt a need to post truthful content to counteract the modern-day Joseph Goebbels out there. But it wasn’t enough.

It is reported that Israel was attacked on Oct. 7. But in reality every Jew was attacked. This continues to be proven daily by the onslaught of Jew-hatred acted out all over the world. It took a while but finally on March 1, through a program called Sar-El, I arrived In Israel to volunteer. Every time I come to Israel I kiss the ground. This time when I landed the kiss was longer and lingered. I don’t know what I expected when I came to Israel. I thought I would see a country paralyzed with fear. But on the contrary, as I strolled through Tel Aviv, it was bustling and people were out living and enjoying their lives. I always find it incredible that within an hour of coming to Israel all the lies and distortions that are spouted by the Jew-haters dissolve away, Because that is what truth does to lies.

  1. The Lie of White Supremacy and Apartheid. Israel is one of the most colorful countries in the world. More than half the people I saw were non-White. Different shades of Brown and Black people were dominant. Meeting a Black person in Israel is different than meeting one in the USA. Here we seem to be stuck on what divides us. But in Israel we are all part of this beautiful mosaic that is Israel. We are all the people of Israel.
  2. Religious Fanaticism. If you ask people in the U.S. they seem to believe that Israel is ruled by a bunch of Jewish fanatics and you are forced to follow their restrictions. What I found telling about Oct. 7 was how few of the victims actually wore a kippah. Something that seems lost in the media. As a kippah-wearing Jew walking around Tel Aviv I would say that less than 20% of the people wore a kippah.

As a matter of fact, so many people I met were not even Jewish. A third of the volunteers in my program were non-Jews. When asked why they were there they responded that they wanted to be on the right side of history. I was so proud that in the city of Jaffa during an ongoing war I heard the Muslim call to prayer. YES, Jews are free to be Jews in Israel. But the beautiful thing is that every other religion is free to be who they are. It doesn’t stop at religion either. People who are LGBTQ have a freedom in Israel that is unmatched anywhere else. Come to Tel Aviv during Pride Month, where it is not a one day event but an entire month of celebration,

  1. The Jews Arrived in 1948 and Colonized the Land. If anything is complete dribble, it is this. Everywhere you walk in Israel you see evidence of Jewish life that is hundreds and even thousands of years old. This trip I had the opportunity to stroll through various different cemeteries and saw graves from the 1800s. Jews are and have always been indigenous to the land. In fact, Israel is one of the only countries that can say that.
  2. Refugees and Immigrants are Bad. I find it mind-boggling that many of the same people who advocate having our borders wide open criticize Israel for being a refuge to refugees? Yes, Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel. But Israel has served as a refuge for persecuted people all over the world. Certainly people from the Holocaust and the Soviet Union, Iran, Iraq, etc. What is even more noteworthy is that Israel is one of the only countries that has actually conducted rescue operations to rescue the persecuted.

So whether it was Operation Magic Carpet that rescued tens of thousands of Yemenites or Operation Moses that rescued tens of thousands of Ethiopians, Israel has put lives on the line to rescue refugees facing certain death. Israel has not only rescued people from death but has also saved cultures from extinction. Something that should be applauded and would be if it was any country other than Israel. This narrative that Israel should go back to pre-1948 status is as repulsive as saying all non-Whites should leave America.

  1. We Are Fighting a War Against Arabs. Ridiculous, since 25% of Israelis are Arabs who happen to live peacefully in Israel. It’s ironic how I felt no discomfort with Arabs in Israel even while Israel is at war. I certainly can’t say the same thing about Arabs in the U.S. Since I was volunteering at army bases I had the opportunity to speak to many in the IDF. Each one of them clearly differentiated between the innocent in Gaza and Hamas. They each spoke about doing everything within their power to limit civilian casualties while Hamas has a sickening desire to maximize them.

I came back to the U.S. from Israel. After 63 years of living in the USA, I sadly no longer can say it is my home. Because to put it succinctly, it no longer feels like I am wanted here. My synagogues are attacked. My restaurants and businesses are used to recreate Kristellnacht. Posters of my kidnapped children are defaced. My truth is denied and my genocide is being cheered on with glee. No, it’s not home any more. How can it feel like home when just wearing a kippah or Jewish Star seems like an episode of “Fear Factor?”

I went to Israel to volunteer, hoping to help the country. But looking back, I realize that Israel helped me more. I was in Israel alone and doing difficult physical work. Sleeping in uncomfortable army barracks. I was alone without my wife, children and pooch. But yet one night, when I was exhausted while FaceTiming with my wife, she said, “Steve, you are the happiest I’ve seen you since Oct 7. At that moment I realized that indeed she was right. For I was at peace. Though the country of Israel was at war, it is my native country of the USA that is the war zone. In Israel there was a calm and I was at peace as were all the volunteers from around the globe. Many of them continued to extend their trip. I can’t wait to go back and to find the peace again in Israel,


Steve Goldberg lives in Clifton and has been a longtime Jewish activist. He has been the event organizer for the Israeli flag raising in Clifton for over 20 years. Steve has been fighting antisemitism and in the summer of 2023 lobbied the city of Clifton to pass the IHRA. He is also a stand-up comic and has produced fundraisers to raise money for the IDF and on a volunteer trip to Israel in March performed three times. Since Oct. 7 he produces a daily show on Instagram entitled “JDLL Jews Defending Life and Liberty” and has produced 150 episodes.

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