A LEADER AND A MENSCH
By Cliff Weiss
By Shlomo Pinkus
AJT Israel Correspondent
On June 22, we attended the inaugural Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem. In a room of only 200 journalists from around the world, the Prime Minister of Israel met with, and spoke to us. This would have been a great honor and experience, if that was all that happened; however, the Prime Minister said very little. Benjamin Netanyahu stole the show. His role may be the Prime Minister, but that is not who addressed us that night.
We saw the man, the great leader whose face carries the pains and triumphs of the Jewish people. We saw our brother, and felt his warmth as he spoke of our other three missing teenage brothers. You could also feel the collective pain as he spoke about a 15 year old boy, who was lost to rocket attacks in the North.
We saw a friend, a neighbor, and a leader. His words rang true about the world and the Jewish people. He spoke with such pride about the military hospital just established on the Syrian border to treat injured Syrian women and children. They bomb us, we heal them. If you would close your eyes, you were not sure if you were hearing a father calling out for his children to come home.
Many topics were discussed. Although he seemed to be talking off of the top of his head, his discussion was logical, informative, and inspiring. We heard about the recycling of water, the growth of the country’s Jewish population, and the technological advancements in recent years. We also heard about Hamas, and the Shiites and Sunnis, and how the pain and terror must come to an end. There was no fear, just confidence that Israel will not only survive, but thrive despite those with evil intentions against us. This was not bravado, it was a well informed and educated understanding of Israel that is rarely understood here in the U.S.
Although we heard about the growth of anti-semitism around the western world, and the need for heightened security, we also heard about Israel’s changing view of the Jews in the west. The time has passed when Israel looked at the Jews in the diaspora as only a source of revenue and aid. Now Israel’s concern has shifted to what they can do to help us in the diaspora, instead of what we can do to help them.
Yes, Israel has enemies, and the Jewish State faces some challenges, but that is not how we felt. That was not the message of the evening. The message was of love and unity. It was one of appreciation of a Jewish identity for the next generation; it was a call for brazenness, in the face of racism; and for a boldness to unite in our land, against the calls of others who do not realize the reality in the land of Israel. That night, we saw a leader, we saw our brother. In an unwavering tone, he let us know that everything will be alright. This is very different than what we are led to believe here in the U.S.