Why I Want to Work on Behalf of Israel
It was a pleasant day this past summer, until I heard the news. Three Israeli boys — Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah — were kidnapped in the West Bank. I turned to my wife and said, grimly, “There’s going to be a war.” Sure enough in the coming days, the boys, their memories should be a blessing, were found murdered; rocket attacks against Israeli civilians continued; Israel launched an offensive against Hamas in Gaza; and Operation Protective Edge was underway.
Throughout this past summer, I followed every development of the conflict, sometimes to the point of mental exhaustion. I became a one person Israeli public relations firm on social media, and was outspoken both in my support of Israel’s actions and my condemnation of Hamas’ ongoing terrorist activities. I got entangled in sometimes heated arguments with people both virtually and in person regarding the conflict, and agreed more than once to “agree to disagree.” I also was able to marshal support for Israel, as I made connections on social media and joined up with others concerned for Israel’s safety, not to mention the growing specter of anti-Semitism both here and abroad. It was this strong love for Israel and Judaism that led me to ultimately join the team at CAMERA On Campus.
I’ll admit that this was not the career path I originally envisioned for myself. I studied Spanish and International Relations at Salisbury University (GO SEAGULLS!), and am currently writing a thesis for my dual Master’s degree in Jewish Education and Jewish Studies at Hebrew College. I’ve worked for the last several years as a high school Spanish teacher, as well as a Hebrew high school teacher at Prozdor at Hebrew College, and feel myself very much an educator.
However, the events of the past summer made it plain that I could not sit idle while Israel was under attack. In another twist, I had been privileged to travel to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, this past February (yes, right when Kiev was in chaos) on a Prozdor trip with students, and had seen firsthand the power that activism could wield. I had visited the “Old Country” and spent ten days among one of the strongest and most interesting Jewish communities in Europe. How could I go back to teaching Spanish literature and stem-changing verbs (as much as I love both) after such a visceral experience?
Israel holds a special place in the heart of Jews, but it should also serve as a beacon for those who prize humanity and decency everywhere. No, I do not necessarily agree with every action taken by the Israeli government, nor do I hesitate to criticize Israel should it be warranted, but I’ve reached the point of critical mass in terms of how much I’m willing to let others smear Israel baselessly.
I’m sick of Israel being held to an impossible double standard with regards to national defense.
I’m sick of hearing of unending “Red Alerts” in Sderot and Ashkelon, forcing men, women, and children to take shelter from rockets fired from Gaza.
I’m sick of hearing of a generation of Israelis growing up in the Negev afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after enduring so many rocket attacks.
I’m sick of wondering if my cousins in Tel Aviv will be called up to IDF service this week.
I’m sick of how those who call themselves pro-Palestinian strategically ignore Hamas’ illegal use of civilian shields, and using hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods as launching pads.
I’m sick of having to correct people when they present disputed and incorrect ideas regarding Israeli history.
I’m sick of hearing of increasing cases of anti-Semitic demonstrations and attacks, both in the United States and around the world.
I’m sick of hearing about groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, whose purpose is ostensibly peaceful but whose events devolve into hate speech and physical violence.
For all of these reasons, and others, I eagerly begin my work at CAMERA On Campus on the cusp of the new year, still very much an educator, and am thrilled to be here. If you want to learn about Israel, ask me. If you want to form a campus group, call me. If you want to know what you can do to help Israel, talk with me. I’m looking forward to connecting. Shanah tovah u’mtukah.
Ben joined CAMERA after teaching Spanish for several years in Massachusetts. He has spoken to the local Boston Jewish community on the importance of Jewish education, as well as on current events in Ukraine and Israel. He has been an active advocate for Israel since college. He can be reached at [email protected] This article originally appeared on CAMERA’s blog, InFocus, here.