To My Jewish Comrades in Diaspora

By Matt Levy, Boger of HDOZ, Madrich of Shichvat Keshet-Nesher, Madrich in NOAL Ken Zichron Yaakov

I don’t need to recount the details of my day on October 7th, luckily I have been very safe in the city I live, but friends, movement partners and family members were less fortunate. You have heard the stories already.

Once I was aware of my safety in Hadera my immediate question became, what can I do to help? So off I drove to Zichron Yaakov where I helped open a donation drive for the 300,000 reserve soldiers who had been called up to defend their country and also the 300,000 people who had been displaced from the South and North of the country. We spent all day unloading, sorting and packing food, clothes, children's games, hygiene products and many more essential items to send across the country. Families within the city kept coming with essentials to the point where some items across the city couldn't be found in supermarkets and stores, they were sold out. Real peoples-based solidarity in action. What was more special was that we organized this through the movement in Zichron. 30 of our senior members came to volunteer and help, they even organized money transfers to one of their bank accounts to then go buy more essential products that we realized we were low on. We did this for a few days.
And then everything changed when my co-rakezet was asked to travel to the dead sea. She was asked to go to the hotels there to run programming for the displaced children from the kibbutzim, Sderot and other areas affected by the massacre in the south. For the kids who some had witnessed the massacre first hand. And then she asked…Hey Matt, can you be the coordinator without me for the next little while whilst I'm away?

I immediately said yes, of course. What i didn't say was how the fuck am I going to do this? How in the world is my Hebrew at a level where I can coordinate all the programming and volunteering alone for the week? How will I be able to increase my responsibility whilst a literal war is going on? How will I be the responsible adult that needs to communicate with other adults, parents and the senior leaders in the city and the movement? How will I be able to provide security and safety in the minds of all the participants during this period?
So I began. The first thing I did was open a whatsapp group to share all the volunteering opportunities that we could be doing together with some of the senior leaders to share with the rest of the participants. Along with the support of the senior leaders we established programming for kids who had been displaced from the south in one of the hotels in Zichron. A lot of these kids are Ethiopian from families that had recently made aliyah, families that had come to Israel looking for security and safety and a place to be a proud Jew. We played soccer with them, we established a nail salon and we played cards and games. The parents who are with their kids in the hotel all day were thankful that the kids were running around with smiles on their faces and that they got some more time to themselves.

As the greenlight was only given to leave the house for volunteering and not educational activities, we moved all our internal ken programming to Zoom. I ran three Zoom programs for Kvutzat Minyoman (my Year 11 Israeli chanichim), which were all spaces to share with each other how we are all doing, a space to check in. I opened up about the difficulties of being away from my family and girlfriend and the choice to stay here even when the Australian government was offering free flights back to Australia. Others shared about their brothers and sisters who are in the army at the moment and not knowing what might happen to them. Not knowing when they will see them next.

My days were busy, my days were long, and to be honest, I didn’t have the time to read the news, to read all the hot takes coming out online. I was needed, people were constantly contacting me, and we wanted to do what we could, we needed to do what we could.

I’m writing this on the 25th of October. Educational activities are now allowed (schools are open), my co-rakezet has returned, and over the last 2-3 days I’ve finally had time to think, to read and to understand what the fuck is going on.

Before I ‘share my thoughts’ I want to say first of all, I grew up in Habonim Dror on the values of the kibbutz (solidarity, democracy, mutual aid, Jewish autonomy and self-determination to name a few), values that began and continue in the kibbutzim down south where the brutal massacre of innocent Jewish children, women and grandparents took place. Homes to veteran peace activists who have spent their life's work fighting for coexistence (some who have now been taken as hostages by the fascist death cult Hamas). I structure my life around the desire to fulfill these values collectively in the hopes of creating a better, stronger and safer Israel. I am a proud progressive, a proud Jew and a proud Zionist.
‘My thoughts’ for you all, my Jewish comrades in Diaspora...If a Jew and a non-Jew were about to die and I could only save one, I'd pick the Jew, and I'm not sure why this is controversial. In fact, I think most Jews who think this is controversial would at the end of the day also choose the Jew. They'd choose their own. They'd choose to save the person from the community they are a part of, the one they love, the one that has given their lives meaning and purpose. The one that has knighted them with a sense of self. The one that has put the weight of 3,000 years of persecution, of resistance, of ideas, of tradition, of faith, of Jewish life on their shoulders to carry, to look deep into the depths of this history to pave a better life for Jews today.
I would choose the Jew because nobody else would. Because we as a people have been scapegoated as the world's evil for millenia. Because 80 years after the Holocaust people still refuse to accept reality. A reality in which antisemitism is so deeply ingrained in the depths of society that even Jews themselves are participants. I would choose the Jew so I could give them a hug and let them know that everything will be alright because we are strong and we are together. Because despite the differences that Jews have with one another, and the differences are immense, most of us understand that we are stronger united.

I would choose the Jew because they too may have bar/bat mitzvah trauma, we could laugh and joke about it together. I would choose the Jew because they would be funnier, because Jews are funny, we are comedians. We are comedians because we are crazy people. We are so crazy we said enough was enough and decided it was time to fulfill our prophecy and return to our ancestral homeland and live a life of self-determination, independence, to build a democratic nation with a Jewish soul. We left our families, our lives, everything we knew in order to take our destiny into our own hands. We fought in wars, we died in wars. We built a successful economy. We fought for peace, and we killed peace. Haredi, secular, liberal or conservative - I would choose them, I would save them, I would do everything I could to help them.

The story of Israel is remarkable. An oppressed minority finally making the choice to be active agents in their own faith. The choice to renew their culture, language and religion. To build a nation of light that would protect them. A nation that could prove to all the other suffering nations that a future of autonomy, independence and self-determination is possible. That you can return back to where you belong, where you were born, where you’ve had a continued presence for 3000 years and you can even flourish there. 
Yes, the project of Israel is an ongoing one and there is more to do. Yes, the return to our land was messy and we made mistakes along the way. Yes, the Palestinian people also deserve all that we have in their own sovereign land. Yes, one day I hope to live side by side, hand in hand, and build a shared life with all in this land. But today, I am choosing my brothers and sisters that need me, I am choosing my comrades, my friends on the front lines fighting to get the hostages back, to punish and destroy the genocidal, fascist, anti-social, anti-human, anti-Palestinian death cult called Hamas and to protect my people, my nation.
I say loud and clear today that it is our responsibility as Jews and leftists not to fall into the trap of becoming Hamas apologists. They started this, they created this, they intentionally place their citizens in danger with no regard for their own people’s life, they explicitly call for the extinction of the Jews in this land, they have waged a war against the Jewish people since their inception, actively disrupting the Palestinian Authority’s attempts at gaining peace and statehood, so my boy Israel has every right to defend itself and the blood of the innocent Palestinian life that has been spilled is on Hamas and its international supporters. Yes, Israel should do all that it can to protect innocent Palestinian life throughout its offense against Hamas, but this is war. If the genocidal maniacs intentionally place their citizens in target areas, that’s on them.
There will be a time to hold our leaders accountable, to continue the fight for better representation, for a people's government, for a real, long lasting political solution to this mess. But, for now, I am choosing Jewish life and our future, our right not to live in fear. The right for Jews to be a free people secure in our own land. The right to not have to live with a death cult whose entire ideology is against every single leftist value that all the antisemites within the left supposedly champion every other day of their lives.
Let October 7th be a wake up call. Let it be the catalyst for all the Jews reading this to look reality in the face, to see at the end of the day who really has our backs, who will be there to stand up for us, who are our allies. Don’t be bullied, don’t be coerced, don’t fall for the trap. You don't need to justify to your Leftist friends, fellow activists and social media followers that you care about Palestinian lives, that you're against the occupation, that you believe in a fair solution. They don't care. And they sure as hell don't care about Palestinians either. If the Left cared about Palestinian life, it would do everything within its power to defeat the ideology of Hamas; they would demand a return of the hostages (some of which aren't even Jewish/Israeli), thus minimizing collateral damage; they would call out everything that happened on October 7th without the “but” at the end.
As the war continues you will feel more pressure, the attack on your Jewish soul will grow, and what really happened on the 7th will begin to fade. They will continue to weaponise their children, Palestinian families, Palestinian life, to riddle you with guilt, to force you to their side. And their enemy will be the Israeli government (who yes needs to be held to high standards) instead of the real enemy - the ideology of destruction, terror and death. The ideology of Hamas.
Look at all the attempts to bring Jews together throughout this period, look at the mobilization of civil society in Israel as hope that we can build a different society here and we can work together despite our differences. Choose a constructive path to change. See the hope that can come after everything is over, the new leadership that will emerge from both sides if we demand it.