Terror attacks in Israel, celebrities in America spewing antisemitism, Jews being assaulted in New York City, Chicago, and in France – the hate we as a people see now can be both daunting and infuriating. But, what are the collective ‘we’ doing about it? Sure, there are numerous organizations that highlight antisemitism, but to no avail. The only result is that now the Jewish
community-at-large knows about the varied incidents. The ADL merely releases statements, though never when it comes to anti-Zionism hate. Occasionally, Holocaust museums worldwide invite Jew-haters to come visit – something that even comedian Mordechai Rosenfeld (stage name MODI) concludes is a laughable solution, to showcase the worst of Jew hatred to those who hate our people. Complaining ad nauseum is not the only option; evoking our inner Judean strength – physical, mental, and emotional – is far more viable in pushing back against hate.
When we think of tough Jews today, only the IDF and Mossad come to mind. Certainly, the IDF and arguably the best spy agency in the world deserve due credit. But, what about the millions of ethnic Jews who are not part of those well-regarded institutions? First, we have to know and be proud of who we are and from whence we came from. All modern day genetic Jews originate from just 2 – 3 tribes (Judah, Benjamin, and Levi) from the region of Judea, as in Judea & Samaria, the ancestral heartland of Israel. Jews are not ‘from Europe’ as those who attempt to disassociate us from our homeland time and again ingrain into the popular zeitgeist. This is where being proud Zionists comes into play. Jews have been Zionists for thousands of years – both the Jews who wound up in the Diaspora, who were yearning to one day return to Israel, to the Jews who remained in Israel – yearning for the return of Jewish sovereignty.
Is Israel perfect? No, and nor should it be, as no country is; expecting perfection from the only Jewish homeland is to play into double standards set for both Israel and the Jewish people. But, as the only true democracy in the Middle East and a country that is the genuine melting pot of world Jewry, a colossal feat undertaken without any aid from the UN, there is a lot for Jews to be proud of – noble Judean kings and queens who valiantly fought off opponents and expanded Jewish territory, the numerous rebels who fought hard to stave off occupiers as best they could (given the size differences in populations), rabbis and their congregants who kept Judaism not only alive, but expanded the religious aspect of the Jewish culture in the Middle Ages, the thriving Sephardic communities which were dominant in the centuries spanning from the start of the Inquisition, to the massive migration of Ashkenaz Jewry, who, together with the sabras, helped rebuilt a strong Jewish nation. Every war fought in Israel since Israel’s liberation – a liberation achieved solely through Jewish ingenuity, sheer willpower, and bravery – has not involved foreign military intervention on the ground to defeat enemies.
Zionism is in the neshama of every Jew. Thus, using correct terminology is paramount to being a proud Zionist – knowing that it is Judea & Samaria, not the 1950 Jordanian-occupation term, ‘West Bank,’ understanding there are no ‘settlements’ but rather, legal Jewish communities, and the most egregious, that there is certainly no Palestine – Palestine was and is a region
encompassing both Israel and Jordan; Jordan was created out of 78% of the Jewish Homeland. And it is knowing that the KGB, in 1967, invented the ‘Palestinians’ in an antisemitic hissy-fit.
Many proud Arab Christians, Muslims, Arameans, and Bedouins, were reduced to a false identity for the KGB and supportive terrorist groups to spread Jew-hatred. Knowing our rich and proud history helps fight antisemitism.
The Jewish media loves to portray Jews as victims – constantly. Jews are anything but; as a people we have survived insurmountable obstacles and yet, we are here and still thriving. For such a small population, statistically we have withstood a grossly disproportionate amount of violence, hatred, and vitriol directed towards us. Which always confounds us because although we are all rooted in our Jewish identity, the way Jewish people around the world celebrate, express, and practice their Judaism is as diverse as the people who make up the Diaspora. Which means that the only reliable and discernible common denominator amongst is the mere fact of being Jewish. If that doesn’t scream racism and antisemitism, what does?
The colors of our skin vary, our places of worship vary, the way we dress varies, our outward displays of Judaism vary
(i.e. wearing a Kippah, magen david, long skirts, etc). We don’t congregate globally the way other ethnic and religious groups tend to, yet we all seem to inherently have the same fire that burns within us. The one that fuels us to protect our Jewish
identity, to come together as a community when one of our own is in need, to assimilate in our respective environments without compromising our Jewish principles and values.
The stereotype of the meek Jewish bean counter who is strong only because of the power his wealth wields is tired, and old. It is no longer relevant. Jews, by definition, are typically tough. Some exert their toughness in a literal sense as part of the MMA or UFC community. Some exert their toughness on the global activist stage, while others exert their toughness by walking
through their everyday life proud and unafraid.
This toughness is imperative to our survival and needs to be proactively passed down from generation to generation, with intention. Jews need to make it their mandate to be trained in Krav Maga and other training techniques to properly exercise and maintain their physical toughness. Just like we train our muscles and cardiovascular system in a gym, Jews must make their ability to defend themselves physically a priority for as long as antisemitism remains a reality. As important is our commitment to education. It is critical that every generation of Jews is well- versed in the history of our people, the origin of our plight, the false narratives that have and continue to plague us, and how to spot our enemies. This allows us to civilly, diplomatically, and most importantly – credibly- defend ourselves in a non-violent attack. It also equips us to educate
those who are open to such an education.
Being a tough Jew is all-encompassing. It’s about being connected to your Jewish roots, mind, body, and soul, and feeling confident that you are equipped to defend not only yourself but your community using your entire being whenever a situation calls for you to do so.
Co-written by Laureen Lipsky & Aaron Hadida
Laureen Lipsky is the CEO & Founder of Taking Back the Narrative (www.tbtnisrael.com), a
Zionism education initiative. Aaron Hadida is the Director of Security and Programing for Herut Canada, and is the Founder of the Jewish Resistance Worldwide. He is also the author of Hate 2.0: One man’s journey to becoming a tough Jew.
Aaron is also the Founder of a Krav Maga initiative for Jewish kids around the world. Www.KravMaga28.com