12 min read

Am Yisrael Chai

Am Yisrael Chai
A picture I took 10 years ago from Tzfat, overlooking the Galilee region of Israel while hiking "yam l'yam", sea to sea.

The past week has been incredibly challenging for Israelis and Jews in Israel and around the world. I am absolutely devastated for those who have lost loved ones and had their lives and homes destroyed. As of this writing, over 1,300 Israelis have been murdered by Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel from Gaza in a surprise Shabbat, Sukkot and Simchat Torah attack on October 7th. There are 120 confirmed hostages or missing, as thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel, both from Gaza and from the north Hezbollah from Lebanon. Hamas turned a music festival into a massacre, killing over 250 at one place. Israel's government has declared war and it appears the fighting is only getting started.

It is incomprehensible how Israel was not prepared for such an attack, given the longstanding issues in the region. Israel removed all of its citizens from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas forcefully took control of the region in 2007. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has made clear its intentions on destroying Israel; in their charter it states:

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (Preamble)

Hamas has rejected peace over and over again in favor of holy war. They have siphoned money supposed to better the lives and build infrastructure for the nearly 2.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip to Hamas, instead using it the purpose of building tunnels, stockpiling rockets, and funding their terrorists.

The brutal attacks on Saturday were the biggest loss of Jewish life since 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust during WWII in the 1940s. Villages razed, men, women and children slaughtered in their homes. The barbarism on display and videos out there on social media are indescribable. My family on a moshav just 40km from Gaza left their home with their kids to go up north for more safety; but even the north is under threat of long range missiles from Gaza, and a 2nd front opening with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new for the Jews. We have been persecuted for thousands of years, from the destruction of the temples in Israel by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, the second temple by the Romans in 70 CE, Crusades in 11th century, the Inquisition - expulsion from Spain in 1492, pogroms in Poland, Ukraine and Russia near the turn of the 20th century, and of course the Holocaust.

In a region with dozens of Arab states, it is no wonder the single Jewish state continues to be attacked from all sides, as it was when the Palestinians turned down peace in the 1947 UN partition plan, during 6 day war in 1967, and on the 1973 Yom Kippur war exactly 50 years ago. This attack is even more devastating in that civilians were attacked directly, unlike the traditional military battles.

I have many friends and family in Israel who have been directly impacted by the conflict, running in and out of the bomb shelters, and being called up amongst the 300,000 Israelis for reserve duty. I speak Hebrew and have spent about a year out of my 31 years of life in Israel, starting when I was 6, summer of 2010 with Ramah Seminar, a semester studying at Hebrew University in 2013, running the Jerusalem marathon in 2022, and most recently visiting with my pregnant wife this summer for our babymoon.

Riding the tractor with family on the moshav in early 1999.
My wife, Erin, and I at the Kotel this summer. The western wall remains standing from outside the Second Temple that stood until 70 CE.

I have a strong connection to Israel, and hold space for the feelings of vulnerability, sadness and trauma that Israelis and Jews are feeling today. Israelis have now been attending funerals all week, while continuing to shelter from rocket attacks and bunker down at home.

I feel for the Palestinians as well, of course I do. There are so many, millions, that are caught up in the cycle of violence and destitution, being indoctrinated with hate and violence from a young age, with their political authorities constantly siphoning international aid for terrorist activities. Hamas uses schools, hospitals and mosques as bases to fire rockets into Israel in order to hide, and inevitably lead to higher civilians killed when Israel targets its facilities. The US gave $343 million in 2022 to UNRWA - the United Nations Refugee Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, despite the indoctrination, corruption and rockets being found at their school. Palestinians have been royally screwed by Hamas "leadership" that sits in fancy hotels in Qatar while their towns get bombed in retaliation by Israel.

The media's portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tends to be skewed and one-sided in it's headlines, leading with Israel's retaliation rather than the cause - Hamas attacks - as was on display by the New York Times and AP this weekend. While Israel's government (like any) isn't without faults, they fail to recognize that while it is a Jewish and Democratic state, over 20% of the population is Arab.

During my senior year at Northwestern, a strong drumbeat of anti-Semitism was veiled under the guise boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movement on campus. I couldn't recall a time I was so shocked to see people get up and spew anti-Jewish hatred, even from people I had worked directly with on cross cultural events in at NU.

People used criticism of Israel's government and policies as a front to target Jews directly. A couple guys from my Jewish fraternity even voted for the resolution. It got picked up by other minorities as a question of "white privilege" - yet we've unfortunately seen the true colors of movements like Black Lives Matter with their support of Hamas' attacks this weekend. We've seen other "top" universities like Harvard and NYU recently come under fire for somehow supporting the barbaric atrocities leveled on the Jews in Israel. Even Northwestern continues to stay silent on the matter and decided now is not the time to speak up, despite constantly speaking up on other issues outside of the school's domain (probably because it has a campus in Qatar, where Hamas sits). In the end, the BDS resolution passed that night in 2015 and its supporters chanted the "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" - alluding to Hamas' charter of getting rid of all the Jews in Israel.

Below is a speech I wanted to deliver that night, but never got the opportunity to as I was deep on the list the organizers made when we sat down. When I was finally called last, I chose to defer to friends who had been leading the defense to give the closing arguments. It was a deep regret I had for a while, and felt defeated for not sharing my thoughts, or handing it off to another friend who was next on the list. He had the presence to write in real time a more passionate, emotional response to the type of anti-Semitism we had been hearing in speeches for 7 hours.

Speech in opposition of NU Divest Resolution

Jonathan Gordon


Hello, my name is Jonathan Gordon and I am a senior. I strongly oppose the divestment resolution and believe that its passage would be a great failure of our student body. The resolution is misleading and I take specific issue with its one-sided portrayal of the barrier that separates Israel and the West Bank.

The resolution and NU Divest have failed to mention the context behind this structure. Why is this the situation on the ground? It was built in response to suicide attacks in the early 2000s that killed over 1,000 Israelis, instilled fear and disrupted everyday life. Israel had to resort to the separation barrier as a last option. Placing more soldiers in the streets did not prevent attacks, and only increased paranoia in the country. After the construction of the wall, attacks decreased by over 90%. What would you do if suicide bombers were continually blowing up in your busses, marketplaces and coffee shops?

I spent the Fall of my junior year studying abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where I lived in a predominately Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem, and experienced the region first hand. I could see the barrier from school, and it’s existence was the only reason why I felt safe going to school everyday. Otherwise I could have been easily attacked, such as what happened in 2002 when 9 students, including 5 Americans, were killed and 100 injured in a bombing at the Hebrew U Cafeteria. In an ideal world, the barrier wouldn’t be there, and we would see greater economic flow between Israel and the West Bank benefitting both sides. But failing to recognize the security risks that Israel faces on a daily basis is an incredibly biased approach to the issues at hand.

The answer is not to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, which demonizes and isolates the only open and free democracy in the Middle East. A better solution would be to work towards peace, and a safer reality for all. This resolution’s intentions are misguided, and will only serve to further divide this campus, and I urge you to vote no on this resolution.

The BDS agenda was pushed on college campuses following the 2014 Gaza battles, which now look tame compared to the targeted terror attacks this weekend, that are even worse than anyone could have imagined. While the wall I described separates Israel and the West Bank, it was the overlooked fences with Gaza that had been breached, with over a thousand terrorists coming through to wreak havoc on music festivals and towns. They killed entire families, beheaded children, took hostages back to Gaza, and caused staggering loss of life, bringing the country to a standstill. This comes after much internal strife and division in the country, with protests all summer long around governmental and judicial reform.

While my thoughts 8 years ago still ring true, I realize I didn't propose a real solution. Israel is in an impossible position now - it doesn't want to rule Gaza again, or get itself into another situation like the West Bank, where over 4.5 million Palestinians reside and are ruled by the Palestinians Authority, but are not recognized as full citizens of Israel. However, they are surrounded by Arab nations like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan that also refuse to take in Palestinian refugees as citizens nor provide any support.

Arab Countries Surrounding Israel

If this many Muslim states can exist, why can't one Jewish state exist? Israel was founded in 1948 in a time that Jews desperately needed a home after the Holocaust and World War II; it has been through a lot in its 75 years, yet it is a short chapter in the thousands of years history for the Jewish people.

Some people may be calling this continued Middle East conflict between Israel and Hamas as the next "current thing" that governments and the media are getting people all whipped up into a frenzy to side with just as the support for Ukraine against Russia was waning. However, to me, and so many Jews around the world, this is a deeply personal attack with deep history.

As I have grown, I have come to realize that the brutality of war waged by governments that control the power of the money printer will not end until we separate money and state. While it may feel far off, I believe Bitcoin represents the only solution we have to take the ability to wage war away from all governments like the US and Israel, and terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.

The US recently unfroze $6 billion of Iran's money - money is fungible - regardless of media reports if they've spent that specific money yet, that frees up $6B elsewhere to fund an attack like this. Although now it appears the US has pivoted and apparently won't free up the money, this highlights again how money itself is used as a weapon by those "in charge" of the money supply to wage war on both sides. Of course, the US has also has provided $3b to Israel to fund the Iron Dome, which shoots down rockets from Gaza in mid-air - otherwise the rocket attacks would have caused more destruction and death over the years and in this week's bombardment. The US is $33.5T in debt, essentially funding all sides of this war and many others around the world.

Governments have time and time again chosen to devalue their currency in order to wage war that normally wouldn't be funded if they had to raise tax dollars directly or have a balanced budget. The modern nation state has gained immense power over the past century, and especially since 1971, when there has been no fiat tether to gold or any other sound money.

With its 21 million in fixed supply, bitcoin can empower people to finally save in a money that cannot be debased by the government, nor used by those in charge to inflict pain through war or silent suffering through inflation.

I pray for the safety and health of my friends and family in Israel. I pray for the innocent Palestinians who do not support Hamas, yet do not have the opportunity to speak up for themselves and caught are in the crossfire. I hope there can be a peaceful resolution to the intense fighting that will follow, otherwise we are destined to repeat history, time and time again.

This conflict has an interesting tie in to bitcoin that shows the connection between the two; in the genesis block in January 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto included the headline from The Times: "Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks". Ironically, the other headline said "Israel prepares to send tanks and troops into Gaza." History is rhyming once again, as the banks continue to fail and be bailed out by central banks, while Israel once again prepares to send tanks and troops into Gaza. The biggest change from this cover is the impossibility of eating out for 5 pounds, given high rates of inflation over the past 15 years.

Newspaper headline included in the genesis block of bitcoin.

Interestingly, Hamas actually requested their supporters stop sending bitcoin payments this spring, precisely because bitcoin has an open ledger, and its wallets were being tracked by authorities. Israel also froze Hamas' accounts at Binance, a third party, international crypto exchange.

We are in the crisis period of the 80 year saeculum (cycle), the 4th turning. It is upon the hero generation to bring us back to a high, which I believe is to enable our transition onto a bitcoin standard. We need a global money not controlled by any nation, but sovereign individuals that are participating in an open, decentralized network that anyone in the world can use, no matter your ethnicity, class, or location.

Otherwise it appears this cycle of devastation, death and war will continue into perpetuity. Unfortunately, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. Israel sent notification to a million residents of Gaza to head south, as Israel will start it's mission of wiping out Hamas' military bases located in and under Gaza City. Unfortunately, Hamas is telling its people to stay put, in way of danger. As Israel goes back on offense after its failure to defend its citizens, be mindful of how the narrative begins to shift due to the collateral damage that will undoubtedly occur.

Keep your guard up in these challenging times. Hamas is calling for global Jihad today against Israel and Jews. Having survived a lone wolf terror attack last summer in my hometown, these attacks feel different for me, as I've been in that true fright or flight mode. I urge you to find ways to get your body and nervous system out of the constant stress, no matter how difficult that may seem. Whether it's limiting time on social media, talking with loved ones, or meditating, it's super important to find what works for you to relax. One useful tool I've learned is Himalayan Kriya yoga, which I will be sharing next in conclusion to my initial series on bitcoin and yoga, even more relevant for what we're dealing with today.

I pray that the forces of good will prevail over evil. May the memories of those killed forever be a blessing. May the hostages come home safely.

Am Yisrael Chai - עם ישראל חי

May the people of Israel live.

Shabbat shalom,


PS - if you'd like to make a donation via bitcoin or the Lightning Network to support Israel, please use this link. I will send on the donations to the following organizations:

Magen David Adom - emergency support in Israel

Zaka - search and rescue

Final stretch of a 50 mile hike across Israel from the Mediterranean sea to the Sea of Galilee that I completed with 6 other friends during Sukkot 2013.
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