Operation Protective Edge has been in full swing for 17 days and Israel has sent troops into Gaza. Just a bit over two weeks after initially entering Gaza, over 30 Israelis have been killed. In the last 17 days, over 2000 rockets have been shot into Israel. At the same time, violent protests have broken out in Europe, particularly in France. To Americans, this is the time to call travel agents and start cancelling flights to Israel. They also might think that the people in France should try fleeing to England or any other seemingly pro-Israel or at least quiet nation. However, for the 400 French and over 200 North American immigrants that have come to Israel in the last two weeks, this is not the time to abandon their homeland, it’s time to run towards it.

Despite the calamity in the region, Jews of all backgrounds are still flocking to the State of Israel. Many of these new olim (immigrants) have been dreaming of making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) for years. These are the people that Israel needs, the kind of people who will stand up to fear and terror and say “enough.” These fearless olim have proven their dedication to Israel by coming while rockets are being launched and troops are at war.

The 400 French people are not running away from the riots and going to a place that is quiet. They are proving themselves by running directly into Israel. When they tried to defend Israel at home, they ended up getting hurt. It would be much easier for these French people to give in and join their abusers and blame Israel. These 400 people have not given up by leaving France, they are facing a new set of challenges by coming to Israel.

While the 200 North Americans have not been subjected to the riots in Europe, their presence should be taken just as seriously as that of the French. Making aliyah is not easy for anyone at anytime, especially not in a time of war. Coming to a place where there is a war going on and balancing that with learning about the culture and language is exhausting. These North American olim are to be admired, just like the French; they are proving themselves by running to Israel, rather than running away.

In a video that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made for the new olim, he expressed his gratitude and support. He said, “…because when Israel is being attacked and you young Jews come here to be part of Israel you’re saying to all our enemies, ‘You’ll never succeed, you’ll never succeed in bending our spirit or driving us away from here…’ This is the epitome of Zionism, what you are doing today…”

It is time for all of us to recognize, and applaud, the courage and dedication of these olim. As Netanyahu said, “This is the epitome of Zionism.” Zionism does not just mean the thought or the hope for a Jewish state, it also means taking action to achieve the ultimate goal. These olim have taken action and serve as an example of triumph over the enemies of Israel and a symbol of hope for Israel’s supporters.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Rachel Wolf, a student at American University.

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