Ari Responds to the War

By Ari Egar, HDNA Bogeret, Shlicha to Gesher 2022-2023

Letter to the Gesher Community and beyond:

I am safe. At the start of the war on Saturday, I was sleeping in my hotel room in Krakow before leaving to enjoy my best friend’s wedding ceremonies. I woke up to a never-ending series of Red Alerts on my phone indicating sirens to seek shelter across the south of Israel, and a seemingly equal amount of texts from friends and family reporting their location and trying to figure out how to get back up north where it was safer. I learned that a large number of my cousin’s friends attended the trance festival outside of Kibbutz Re’im and were reported killed or missing. I learned that Vivian Silver, an HDNA bogeret, was abducted and taken into Gaza.

I am physically safe. I am emotionally distraught. I have spent the last four days responding to countless loved ones checking in to make sure I am safe. I have spent the last four days seeing Instagram stories of both support for Israelis and hopes for safety, as well as justification of terror attacks and mass murder.

In times like these, it can be overwhelmingly simple to make wide-reaching political statements. I encourage you to drop the politics for a moment. Condemning the killing of innocent people is not political, it is human. The murder of over 1,000 innocent civilians and the abduction of over 150 more is abhorrent and evil. Cries of retaliation in Israel calling for “wiping out” Gaza are embarrassing and inexcusable. HDNA stands firmly against the Israeli occupation not because of some deep-rooted historical connection to Palestinian sovereignty, but because of our belief in Shivyon Erech Ha’adam -- the equality of human value. Even now, HDNA should continue its fight to see an end to the occupation. But it is clear after this weekend that the pressure to end the occupation cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of the Israeli government. Hamas’ charter calls for the extermination of all Jews, the destruction of Israel, and vehemently denies the Holocaust. The occupation cannot end while this is the political position of the Palestinian people. Of course, Hamas does not speak for all Palestinians just as Bibi does not speak for all Israelis. But too often we see calls to end the occupation without recognizing the existential threat to all Israelis that this would impose. I can only hope that this attack opens people’s eyes to that threat.

HDNA serves a very important role in these moments. We offer a Zionist space where people can build and maintain their connection to Israel in a personal way, a way that is true to the individual, and use that connection to demand a better future. No other organization or movement that I’m familiar with has this unique stance. We must be loud, and stand up against those who would make us believe we can either be Zionist or progressive, but not both.

My heart aches for all of the families who have lost loved ones in the wake of this tragedy. My thoughts are with those who will continue to experience fear under the rain of rocket fire. May the memories of all those who have perished be a blessing for a more peaceful future.