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Displaced Israelis: The Diaspora Inside Our Homeland

In this issue:



The Diaspora Inside Our Ancestral Homeland

People taking cover in an air raid shelter
Displaced Israelis face many challenges ahead.

As American Jews, “diaspora” is a term we know well.


As New Orleans Jews, we know the term very well.


The word, defined as the dispersion of a people outside their native homeland, has come to be associated with Jews, specifically: Any Jew outside of Israel is said to be living in “the Diaspora.” But any Gulf Coaster evacuating during hurricane season knows exactly what it means to be in a diaspora, too.


Unfortunately, this war against Hamas has also led Jews inside Israel to experience a diaspora of their own.


Civilian displacement doesn’t get as many headlines as casualty figures, but according to the Times of Israel, anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 Israelis have been internally displaced, including entire communities situated near Gaza and the Lebanon border. Assuming an Israeli population of about 9.3 million, that would mean about 2-3% of all Israeli citizens are currently living under a government evacuation order.


Some citizens can't go home because their communities were destroyed in the initial attack. Others can't stay home, due to ongoing hostilities on their doorsteps. Since the evacuation orders were issued, hundreds of thousands of displaced Israelis have been living in hotels, hostels, evacuation centers and other forms of temporary housing.


Yet we Jews take care of our own. On-the-ground organizations like IsraAID and HIAS have been working with international charities and NGOs to help provide domestic refugees with resources and support. These groups provide everything from basic needs and cash assistance, to medical and mental health services--even schooling, so kids won’t fall behind.


But as anybody who has evacuated a hurricane can tell you: There’s no place like home. Eventually displaced Israelis will return, or rebuild, whenever it is safe and feasible to do so. Until then, we can pray for their continued safety and do what we can from afar, until we can finally say we have brought all our people home.


Learn more about how you can help support displaced Israelis at:


 

New Poll: U.S. Voters Overwhelmingly Support Israel


A new poll conducted by Harvard CAPS and Harris Poll finds that more than 80% of American voters support Israel in their war against Hamas.

A clear majority in all age groups said they supported Israel, ranging from 72% of Americans aged 18-24 up to 94% for Americans aged 65 and over. Two-thirds of respondents also said they’d support a ceasefire only after Hamas is removed from power and all hostages were freed.


Two-thirds of voters also believed Israel is trying to avoid civilian causalities, the pollsters found.


The poll, which surveyed 2,022 registered voters, was conducted online between February 21 and 22, 2024 by The Harris Poll and HarrisX. You can dig through the key poll results here.


 

Zionist of the Week: Ori Megidish


IDF Cpl. Ori Megidish, abducted by Hamas during the October 7th attacks, made headlines a few weeks afterward when the IDF rescued her from captivity in a daring overnight mission.


Nobody would have blamed her if she wanted to retire after her ordeal. However, Megidish instead has decided to return to active military service. She’ll serve in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate.


Her decision to return to service “stemmed from her personal desire and sense of mission to serve the country,” the IDF said in a statement. What courage!


 

Time Magazine on "The New Antisemitism"


Time's new cover story, "The New Antisemitism," by Harvard professor Noah Feldman, is an attempt at an honest, even-handed examination of the antisemitic attacks Jews have experienced recently, as well as throughout history.


While I take issue with some of the arguments made and some of the "facts" cited -- for example, Feldman repeats the "29,000 Palestinians dead" statistic without mentioning that it is sourced from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, who has every incentive in the world to inflate the numbers -- overall the article articulates what many of us are experiencing and witnessing for the broader, non-Jewish audience.


 

Explore The Soul Of Israel: New Class On Modern Hebrew Poetry


Join Rabbi David Gerber for a captivating six-week exploration of the rich and diverse tapestry of Modern Hebrew Poetry, as we delve into the profound expressions of the human experience within the cultural and historical context of Israel. This thought-provoking class invites participants to unravel the intricate layers of emotion, identity, and social consciousness woven into the verses of some of the most influential Hebrew poets of our time. 



 

Listen to This: "Am Yisrael Chai"


With young kids in the family, The Maccabeats are in constant rotation at our house. (At least it's not The Wiggles anymore!) Yet somehow it had been a hot minute since I'd last heard this original song they released for Hannukah 2023: "Am Yisrael Chai."


The song came up on my random shuffle today and put a huge smile on my face. So I'm passing it onto you in the hopes it does the same for you. Am Yisrael Chai!



 

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