Anti-Semitism, Wokeness, And Why A Strong America Is Essential To Israel’s Survival, Part 1: A Small Country With A Big Story

Oleksii Liskonih. Getty Images. United States and Israel flag together realtions textile cloth fabric texture
Oleksii Liskonih. Getty Images.

My relationship with Israel has always been complex.

I am Jewish and was born in Soviet Russia but have lived in America for two thirds of my life. My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 and has never looked back. (I pinch myself all the time because I get to live in this wonderful country.) I am an agnostic. Israel is supposed to be my historical homeland, the land of my ancestors — a very academic concept, since I struggle to relate to ancestors more than a few generations back, most of whom came from Belarus or Ukraine.

After October 7, something changed inside of me. But it was not just the horrific events of October 7 alone. It was a combination of the massacre in Israel, which echoed the cruelty of the Nazis, and the demonstrations that took place in the U.S. and Europe, as well as letters signed by Ivy League students, all condemning Israel before it had a chance to fire a single retaliatory shot at Hamas.

Anti-Semitism, which I had gladly forgotten since leaving the Soviet Union, was once again on display. Israel went from being a merely theoretical place of safe harbor for Jews who are unwanted, to a very real, tiny island of refuge, as the world continues to repeat its difficult history with the Jewish people.

I have never connected the survival of Israel to the well-being of my descendants. However, today I see this so clearly. If this tiny light of democracy, surrounded by a desert of darkness, goes out, it will not only mean the demise of the Jews there but also of those around the world. Unfortunately, history is on my side when I say this.

Four of my good friends from Denver recently took time off from work and went to Israel to help. They told me they were shocked by what they saw when they got there. What really amazed them about Israel is how this country, which was so deeply divided over judicial reforms before October 7, came together and united. This country of eight million Jews turned into one big family, which is single-mindedly focused on winning the war and taking care of each other.

On October 8, tech companies that had opposed the government on the issue of judicial reforms went to the government and said, “We’ll do anything we can to help.” Within a week, the Israeli government had AI software that could help identify Hamas terrorists. Tech companies created free “Airbnbs” where people can post, “I have a spare bedroom in Jerusalem for a displaced family that needs an emergency place to live.”

The Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem, which has been under construction for a long time and had a soft opening a few months ago, has been turned into a logistics center for all incoming aid to Israel. And there is a lot of aid coming from all over the world. Everyone I know who is traveling to Israel is bringing items, from socks to gun holsters, in duffle bags for soldiers.

The population of Israel has increased by 3% since October 7 — not something you usually see happen in a country at war. In part that is due to reservists coming home from all over the world, but volunteers like my friends are also going to Israel, taking time off to help their historical homeland.

My friends have been making sandwiches for the soldiers, cleaning houses for refugees to move into, and working in the fields collecting potatoes that are rotting because a large part of the population has mobilized.

Billboards in Tel Aviv no longer display advertisements but instead show images of hostages taken by Hamas, with a single message: “Bring Them Home!” The country is calm and determined; people want the hostages to come home, and they want to destroy Hamas. Micah Goodman, an Israeli philosopher, said, “Israel is a small country with a big story…. Big enough to give you meaning and small enough for you to have influence on it.”

This is why Israelis are so at peace with the awful reality of going to war. When they wake up every morning, they know they can make a difference for their country. They have a purpose. This war in Gaza is not “eye for an eye” retaliation but the elimination of a terrorist regime which, if given the chance, will repeat the cruel events of October 7 across the whole of Israel and then go after other infidels — the rest of the non-Islamic world.


High (unintended) civilian casualties in Gaza are heartbreaking, but I keep asking myself, what choice does Israel have? Hamas continues to launch rockets into Israel daily and has been doing so for years. Show me a developed country on this planet that would tolerate that. Hamas just massacred 1,200 Israelis — the group’s leaders are not shy about repeating that October 7 is just the beginning.

What would the U.S. do to protect its citizens if we were attacked? We have an answer for that — just look at what we did after 9/11. What would France do? We have an answer for that, too. In 2015, ISIL terrorists killed 130 French citizens. France bombed Syria for months. I don’t remember any calls for restraint or a proportional response. I don’t remember the U.N. condemning the U.S. or France for unintended civilian casualties. I also don’t remember the U.S. or France dropping leaflets or making phone calls warning Afghans or Syrians about the locations of attacks. Israel is always judged by a different (and impossible) standard than any other country.

As IDF soldiers have told my friends: “You cannot imagine how careful we are at trying not to shoot civilians, especially kids. I have kids at home. I don’t want to be desensitized to the crying of my kids.” The humanity that is often lost during war isn’t lost in Israel.

The IDF is liberating Gazans from Hamas; unfortunately, it is doing it in a densely populated area. It is trying very hard to spare civilian lives, which is incredibly difficult — Hamas fighters are not wearing uniforms. A 16-year-old kid in front of you can be a civilian or a suicide bomber. In fact, a 20-year-old Israeli border police officer who immigrated from Atlanta, Georgia, was stabbed to death in Jerusalem by a 16-year-old Hamas fighter.

This war is taking place on the borders of Israel, but this is not just Israel’s war. The war against Hamas is a battle between good and evil. The evil will not stop with Israel. Islamic extremists want to rebuild an Islamic caliphate all over the world. The Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. are next. We are the infidels — yes, if you do not accept Muhammad as your prophet and role model, you are an infidel. Our lives and values do not matter to them. We must either bend the knee or die.

Israel will prevail in this war; Israeli Jews have nowhere to go. But I realize that for my historical homeland to survive, the U.S., which welcomed me with open arms and has been my home for 32 years, needs to prosper as well.

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READ: Anti-Semitism, Wokeness, And Why A Strong America Is Essential To Israel’s Survival, Part 2: Wokeness Is Destroying America — One Student at a Time

READ: Anti-Semitism, Wokeness, And Why A Strong America Is Essential To Israel’s Survival, Part 3: The Socialism Of Grades

READ: Anti-Semitism, Wokeness, And Why A Strong America Is Essential To Israel’s Survival, Part 4: One Way To Save America And Israel

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Vitaliy Katsenelson is CEO of IMA – a value investing firm in Denver. You can read his articles on  ContrarianEdge.com. He is the author of Soul in the Game – The Art of a Meaningful Life (Harriman House, 2022).

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Anti-Semitism, Wokeness, And Why A Strong America Is Essential To Israel’s Survival, Part 1: A Small Country With A Big Story