How my new aquarium showed me why Israel will win this war

I am perplexed by the opinion that Judaism is a religion. The only person in the Bible who describes Judaism as a religion is Haman. Every other Biblical reference is to the nation of Israel. The confusion may be because what are national traits for others, for Jews are our connection with God. There is Jewish (i.e. kosher) food, Jewish (i.e. fringed) garments, and our national borders are Biblically mandated. 

But what the Bible brings into focus is that, unlike any other nation, we began as a family. 

This took on practical implications after Israel declared its independence in 1948. It was essentially a family reunion. Only a family could instantly coalesce after 2,000 years of separation.

In contrast, the Palestinians refused the same UN resolution, unwilling to become a nation or even sit at the same table. The UN declared that 700,000 “Palestinians” had instantly become refugees. This term had never in history been applied to a nation or a people. Indeed, Arabs living under the British Mandate rejected the label, as pan-Arab nationalism was beginning to take root and the title of “Palestinian” implied living under British colonialism. UNRWA was created to deal solely with the  Arabs displaced by the creation of Israel and a unique and unprecedented definition of the term refugee was applied to them and their descendants in perpetuity, unintentionally mimicking the definition of the Jews. It seems that when the UN wanted to create a nemesis of the Jews, they realized that they would need to create a perpetual, albeit artificial, enemy to battle the world’s most resilient nation. Hence they tried to create a Palestinian nation where none had ever existed.

David Ben Gurion announces the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (Credit: Zionism 101 video screenshot)

But it is a false premise. Palestinians are not a nation. Arab nations do not consider Palestinians to be Arabs. In 1948, the Palestinian refugees were not offered sanctuary by other Arab nations and most were not granted citizenship when they settled in neighboring Arab countries. The strongest ally of the Palestinians today is non-Arab Iran despite the Palestinians being Sunni and Iran being Shia. They are united only in their hatred of Jews.

In contrast, about 850,000 Jews were displaced from Arab countries after 1948. Many had been living in their host countries for thousands of years. But as Jews, they and their hosts always knew that they did not belong, that they were a stranger in a strange land, and that Jews were of a different nation. And Israel accepted them all without question. They were family.

Jews came together from all corners of the world. Even though they came from vastly different cultures, they were bound together by the Torah and also by their family roots. While the descendants of the original “Palestinians” are still refugees, the ingathered exiles were welcomed with open arms as full-brothers, a precedent set by Joseph in  Egypt. Ethiopian Jews, disconnected from the Jewish people since the construction of Solomon’s Temple, were welcome. This was the first time in human history that Africans were brought in at the host country’s expense, not as slaves but as honored brothers. Israelis are enormously proud of this chapter in our history.

These precedents are still apparent today. When the war broke out in Gaza, about 500,000 Israelis were displaced, moved and housed at government expense to areas that are safer from rockets and terror attacks.

But no Arab country was willing to take in a single Palestinian. Even Jordan, with about three million Palestinians, and Egypt, with about 100,000 Palestinians, refused.

Jewish Ethiopian immigrants of the Falash Mura community arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on October 29, 2022

It is clear that Jews are family and Arabs are not.

Many self-proclaimed pundits believed that the legal reforms were tearing Israel apart, moving us toward civil war. What they failed to understand was that the protests and politics were nothing more than a family spat, an argument between passionate brothers. As religious Jews stared over the shoulders of their non-observant brethren on the Shabbat of October 7 to see the horrifying news reports, the spat disappeared instantly as our hearts broke.

On a certain level, I feel sorry for the Palestinians. They do not have supporters or family. They are being cynically used as cannon fodder for Jew-haters who don’t care about Palestinians who are not willing to die in the name of Jew-hatred.

I also feel sorry for the Jews who are “pro-Palestinian”. They have left the family and are spiritually homeless.

People who care about headlines are probably wondering what all this has to do with my new aquarium. I love aquariums and my family wanted to purchase one for my birthday. I insisted on being frugal and buying it second-hand. I found the perfect aquarium online and contacted the seller. She was a very sweet Russian woman who lived in Kiryat Shmona. To be accurate, she lived there before the war but the government moved her to Karmiel. She has since moved in with her parents. The aquarium is all set up and the fish seem happy but I occasionally call her. Calling a stranger may sound unusual to non-Israelis but she has not said anything. Israelis all understand. Long before this woman sold me an aquarium, we were family.

Every Israeli I have spoken to has cried more in the past two months than ever before in their lives. This war is not political for us. It is not even about land. It is deeply personal. The Palestinians murdered my family. I do not seek revenge. I want the woman who sold me an aquarium to go home and live in peace. I want to create a home where mothers and children, fathers and sons, grandmothers and everyone else in my family is safe. 

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