Editor’s note: JFNNJ President Lee Lasher sent this letter after he arrived in Israel to join a solidarity mission.
For 2,000 years our ancestors dreamed of going to Israel but couldn’t go. There was no State of Israel or it was too difficult to travel to Israel. For the past 18 months we have felt a little taste of this as we could not visit Israel during the COVID pandemic. It was painful. As I often say, I live in the USA but my heart is usually in Israel. These last few weeks were such a time. Now as I sit in my room under a hopefully short quarantine (and the Carlton Hotel is not exactly a rough quarantine, see pics), I can’t help but think how blessed I am to be here now, how important it is at this time, how I dropped everything to be here now with JFNA and all Jewish Federations, to be here with Jason Shames to deeply and proudly express our NNJ community’s unwavering support for Israel and to discuss the recent war with Hamas, see firsthand what transpired, meet with senior government and IDF officials and others, including people injured in the recent Hamas terror campaign, and to discuss the uptick of attacks against Jews in NY, LA and elsewhere. We will stand up for Israel and our communities. There is no moral equivalence between the Hamas terror regime and democratic Israel. Do not confuse the arsonist and the firefighter. No one should align themselves with a terror regime that fires over 4,000 missiles in 10 days at civilians—homes, apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, houses of worship, places of business. And these missiles were fired against all Israeli citizens—Jews, Muslims and Christians. In fact, 1 in 7 of these missiles fell in Gaza and killed Gazans. It is not “progressive” to support a fanatical death cult that shoots at civilians hiding behind their own civilians. There is one Jewish homeland. Always was, always will be. And Jewish lives also matter.Lee Lasher