Monday, May 31, 2021

“Lynch” is a word that most people don’t really comprehend. Although many are familiar with the word “Fauda” from the hit tv series, the term is not understood.

Fauda means chaos - but it is not just any chaos. It is the chaos of the gates of hell opening up, turning individuals into a blood-thirsty, raging, mob that swarms you, intent on ripping you to pieces. Literally. 

To escape with your life, you need a miracle.

That is what happened to Elad Barzilai.

May 12th, 2021. Arabs in Akko were rioting – as were Arabs in Jerusalem, Lod, Haifa and across the Galilee (where there are many Arab villages surrounding the Jewish communities). Israeli Arabs, citizens of Israel were raging against anyone or anything Jewish – individuals, Jewish property, and symbols of the Jewish State. 

Elad, 37 years old, a teacher and father of four, went outside to look for his students. He wanted to make sure that his (Jewish) students were not caught up in the violence. He didn’t want them to get hurt and he didn’t want them to try to fight the rioters. He never imagined he wouldn’t come home afterwards. Neither did his wife, Yael.

Elad was attacked and beaten with metal rods and rocks. His skull was smashed in.   

By a miracle and by the hands of good doctors, Elad survived. I cannot comprehend how it was possible to piece together the remains of his skull.

The media (as well as other similar lynches) minimized this horrific event. It is nicer to promote stories of “Jewish-Arab co-existence.” People like that narrative. It is easier to tell a “both sides” story of symmetrical violence or simply blame Jews. The truth is unpleasant, painful and in fact, terrifying.

I lack the words to properly convey the full extent of the horror of being Jewish and unsafe in our homeland. Of having neighbors who can live, shop, work etc. with you for years and then, one day, decide to rise up and slaughter Jews for being Jewish and daring to claim the right to live in our ancestral homeland.

There is no symmetry and there is no justification for bashing in the head of an unassuming teacher – even if he is a Jew.  

After hearing what happened to Elad, it was impossible to just go on about our daily lives. But what could we do? I’m not a politician or a military official. I don’t make decisions for the country. I can’t protect my people and I can’t heal Elad. But I can’t not do anything.

So, Lenny and I went to the hospital. We don’t know the Barzilai family. But we do know them. They are our family. Our tribe. We didn’t call or ask anyone, we just went. Because that’s what you do when your family is suffering. You stand with them.

We found Yael, Elad’s wife standing outside the ICU, waiting for the doctors to let her in. Elad was in a medically induced coma follow the operation on his head.

“Who are you?” Yael asked.

“Am Yisrael”

Her eyes lit up.

She said that “Am Yisrael,” the people of Israel who care because we are all part of the same tribe, is the only thing that gives her hope in these terrible times.

Elad opened his eyes on Wednesday. On Saturday, a week after our first visit, we found Yael with Elad, in a regular hospital room. He is conscious and able to make very slow, pained gestures. The places where his skull was patched together scream of the horror he endured.

When Yael saw us, her tired face flushed with new life. She turned to Elad and told him: “Look at this couple. I don’t know them. I don’t think you know them, but they came to see how we are.”

Elad’s eyes followed us, and it was obvious he could understand the conversation. He couldn’t speak (he can’t swallow properly so he has a suction tube to make sure he doesn’t choke). Yael told us that he is mouthing words and it was the first day she could understand what he was trying to say.

Elad slowly raised his hand and lifted up one finger after the other. Four. Yael asked him, “You want to tell them about our kids?” A tiny movement of his head, closing and opening his eyes. “Yes.”

She told us of bringing their kids to see their father. I can’t imagine how they must have felt. When I spoke with Elad I smiled and told encouraging stories while swallowing tears of rage. It will take a very long time for him to heal, and his head will forever carry the evidence of Jew hate. Any time his wife or children look at him, every time he looks in the mirror, they will be reminded of that night of horrors. Of the neighbors who want us dead.

This sweet and gentle man experienced the enormity of hate felt for our entire people. The desire to smash us to smithereens. Elad, like the Nation of Israel, is going to do the one thing that most enrages our enemies.

He will live.

With the help of good doctors, Yael, family, friends, Am Yisrael and the few friends we have in the world, Elad will live WELL – and so will the Nation of Israel. We can be smashed, battered, tortured, and burned but we do not give up and we do not give in.

Am Yisrael Chai are perhaps the three most powerful words in the history of mankind.
We are a Nation. We are Israel. We LIVE.

So will Elad son of Julia.

If you pray, pray for his recovery. For his brain to be undamaged. For Yael to find the strength she needs. For their children to get their parents back. Tell Elad’s story, his is the Jewish story. The lynch mob did not attack Elad, they attacked The Jew. By a miracle he survived. Through faith, hope, love and dedication of his family, his tribe, he will live.

Am Yisrael Chai.

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