July 25, 2014
As I sit on my balcony in Jerusalem, looking out over the “city of peace” just before the start of Shabbat, I am filled with both pain and hope—the pain of witnessing yet another senseless conflict and the hope for a better future I take from the acts of humanity and solidarity of the remarkably resilient people I see all around me.
Like everyone here, I have been following the news closely, wishing that Israel was not called upon to defend itself once again and that families were not forced to mourn their children.
And yet, even in these trying times, I am determined to focus on helping others find the rays of inspiration and caring that will shine light in the darkness.
I find hope in the stories of families, struck by incomprehensible tragedy, buoyed by the support of the global Jewish community coming together to grieve for their sons. I find hope in the heroism of volunteers working tirelessly to ensure the safety of friends and neighbors and to care for children in bomb shelters. I find hope in people crossing religious and national bounds to show the world that what unites us as people is stronger than what divides us.
In these stories, I see why time and again we continue to believe that we as people can be better, that we as people can do better and that we as a people will ensure that tomorrow IS better.
For many of us who have had the great opportunity to travel to Israel and speak with Israelis and Arabs, we know that the majority yearn to live in peace and are prepared to sacrifice for it. We know that the conflict inflicts pain on everyone in the region in ways large and small.
In times like these, it is especially important that the people of Israel, and all peace-loving people in the region, know we stand with them, that their fate is our fate, that we care about them, that we are mourning with them and, importantly, that we believe in them and in their quest for peace.
That is why I traveled to Israel this week to join our team here and to show solidarity and support in this time of distress. While I am here, I am meeting with so many young people—artists, innovators, educators, activists—who believe that we can transcend religious and political divides to achieve our vision of a better world. These young people give me hope for the future. They give me hope for peace.
I know that Israel will continue to face grave challenges. Like all of you, I am worried about what this latest conflict means for Israel’s continued quest for peace and security at home and legitimacy abroad. I am worried about the growing divide within Israel’s borders and also about the tenor of discourse taking place in the media and online. I am worried about the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish vitriol and vilification rearing its head in rallies around the world.
But I know too that, just as we have in the past, our global Jewish family will continue to embrace each other, to strengthen each other and to do our part to help Israel survive, thrive and fulfill its calling as a light unto the nations.
For anyone who has ever camped in the Negev or hiked Masada before sunrise, you know that the darker the sky, the brighter the stars. In this time of darkness, may we each be a powerful source of light, strength and peace.