Israel Mission Day 2 by Rabbi Marc Israel

Originally posted at

Today was every bit as full, as meaningful, as sad, as hopeful, and as exhausting as I thought it would be. I’m going to briefly summarize the day.

We started the day with a briefing by US Ambassador Jack Lew at our hotel and then went to the Foreign Minister office to speak with Elad Strohmayer (Director of Congressional Relations) Hamutal Rogel Fuchs (Director of Jewish Communities) and Rasha Atamny (staffs the US-Israel Bi-lateral Cooperation and Israel’s first Muslim diplomat). We next went across town to meet with Talia Levanon, CEO of The Israel Trauma Center at the Jerusalem Ramada Hotel (the hotel is now housing refugees from a religious neighborhood in Sderot). From there we drove to Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek (near Megiddo), to meet with families who were evacuated from Kibbutz Nachal Oz on the Gaza border and then returned to Jerusalem to get to Beit HaNasi (the President’s House), where we were welcomed by and asked questions of President Bujie Herzog. We closed the evening with a dinner conversation with Yossi Klein HaLevi from the Hartman Institute.

Like yesterday, several themes emerged from these meetings, some of which were difficult, some of which are inspiring:

  1. The feeling that the government abandoned the people.
  2. The breakdown of trust in the Army’s ability to protect its citizens.
  3. A newfound sense of unity of purpose among the people, both to free the hostages and eliminate Hamas from power.
  4. The incredible resilience and kindness that Israeli civilians society has displayed and organized in the absence of government support.
  5. And again, a tremendous level of gratefulness to American Jews, President Biden and the continued bi-partisan American support.

In the past, when Israelis talked about defending themselves, it often carried a sense of bravado that made me uncomfortable. But I discovered today that the absence of the bravado that I heard today was even more difficult. The Army is slowly rebuilding trust. The government is not. The people are strong and resilient and this, more than anything, is what gives me hope.