Through Sorrows to Strength

Day 3: August 5, 2015

Andy Kaplin (Philadelphia, PA)

This Morning, our 4th full day in Israel started out with a powerful presentation by a 24 year old young man named Tzur Goldin. First Lieutenant Goldin is an officer in the IDF and addressed our group about Hadar Goldin, of blessed memory, his twin brother who’s body is being held hostage by the Hamas Government in Gaza.

As part of this story, Lt. Goldin introduced us to the story of his family. His father who is a Historian at Tel Aviv University and his mother, a computer scientist who works in the defense industry. He talked about his sister and other brother. He described a family of scholars and artists, all of who have served their country in the IDF.

Lt. Goldin came to speak with us because he has a powerful request and message that he needs to spread. He described for us a fateful day last summer when his twin brother, Hadar, was killed and his body kidnapped by a force of terrorists in Gaza during the last summer’s battle known as Protective Edge. He talked about his brother who was an elite commando in his unit, #1 in his officer’s training class, a brave soldier, who led troops into battle in Gaza and Southern Egypt. Lt. Goldin spoke of how his brother and two other soldiers, who were killed with his brother, were lured into an underground tunnel at 8:30 AM, 30 minutes AFTER the cease fire that the American goverment and the UN had negotiated with Israel and Hamas to stop fighting. He told us the story of how his brother walked into an ambush by a group intent on exploiting the cease fire for the sole purpose of killing and capturing a few soldiers as a political tool. Sadly, they succeeded and are holding both the body of his brother and another soldier. Lt. Goldin’s life purpose today is to bring his brother home. He described four actions he is taking:

  1. Raising awareness of the issues of the two soldiers whose bodies are still being held by Hamas.
  2. Meeting with military officials and governments around the world to raise awareness of tactics of the terrorist organization and its despicable tactics.
  3. Looking to reach a position of strength and moral high ground to raise public and world opinion that Gaza remains unbuilt, not reconstructed, even with billions of dollars raised for the people of Gaza to rebuild. Money in the hands of terrorists goes to building terror tunnels, instead of schools, hospitals and other social services for its citizens.
  4. Change the perception of the IDF and the world’s opinion of Protective Edge.

Lt. Goldin described the 60 men he commanded and how he and his men were trained to fight a just war, a war that seeks to protect the lives of innocent civilians, even though these residents of Gaza are used as human shields by their leaders.

Our second meeting of the day was a special meeting at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Very much like our State department, the foreign ministry deals with all geo political issues of the State of Israel. Our group was fortunate to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, a young vibrant rising political star of the Likud party. After being discovered on TV, Minster Hotovely has been a member of Knesset since 2009 and was recently tapped by Prime Minister Netanyahu to be the Deputy Foreign Minister and, since thePrime has not appointed a Minister, she is the senior official the Ministry.

Our group was also fortunate to watch our new national director Jonathan Greenblatt and Director of International affairs, Michael Salberg present to Minister Hotovely an overview of ADL’s work address. Jonathan talked about his goals as our new National Director. He touched on 4 issues:

1. Renew our 102 year old mission and fight the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice snd fair treatment for all in the community

2. Encourage new communities to work with the ADL

3. How to reinvigorate our business by bringing innovation and startup culture to ADL

4. How to support and strengthen our relationships and support for the State of Israel.

On a personal note, it was encouraging to watch Jonathon command the room and to hear him articulate his vision and our mission in such an important meeting.

We then heard from Minister Hotovely. She focused the discussion not on the Iranian deal, but on the BDS movement and her observations on college students and their involvement, including jewish students, in such a despicable cause. She commented that modern anti-Semitism is now anti-Israel. She questioned us on how best to reach young leadership in America and how to build up the positive Israeli perspective. She commented that she believed Liberal jews were questioning Israeli values. She also commented that “people are challenging our democratic values and questioning our legitimacy.” While it was concerning to hear this from an official of the government, it was encouraging to hear of various programs the ministry is creating to combat this perception. We heard about how the foreign minister is trying to create social entrepreneurial programs in San Diego through the local San Diego consulate. Jonathan was enthusiastic about this pro active program and pledged support from ADL to help the Ministry and foster relationships around the country.

This mornings meetings continue to bring the Israeli perspectives to our group. Within our conversations we are searching for ways to bring these ideas home to help focus our ADL mission. Our morning ended with a lunch in the cafeteria of Yad Vashem, a reminder of the reasons and struggle our people have had and the tragic reminder of our history.

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