Out Loud

Pirates and Penance

21 August 2014 By Elah Alkalay

Elah Alkalay is a board member of the New Israel Fund, chair of our Grants Committee, and a businesswoman working in finance in Tel Aviv. Click here to read her full bio »

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One way of understanding the war in Gaza is to switch from your news channel to the movie "Captain Philips".

I'm not a philosopher, but from my theater seat there are no just solutions in the closing scene in which Tom Hanks is held hostage by the 3 remaining pirates in a lifeboat surrounded by the incredible might of the US Navy. Its him or them, and they have no chance in the world. But that is the case in the closing scene. A lot could have been done to prevent that scene in the first place, and a lot can be done to prevent this scene in Gaza from happening again.

Though an hour's drive from my house in Israel, Gaza is as far away as the horn of Africa when missiles aren't being shot. It is as tempting in Kfar Mordechai as it is in New York or San Francisco to forget about the 1.8 million people living there and leave them to deal with their warlords as long as they stay out of sight.

We Israelis can't afford to do that. It gets more and more difficult to wake up in the morning, look ourselves in the mirror and know we've done nothing to prevent the next duel that will place 64 of our young men (or more)on the altar of "Eretz Israel" alongside thousands of poverty- and fate-stricken Palestinians.

Now is a good time to re-write the script and avoid the next episode. Though like all good books and movies it will be a lot of hard work and no short term gains while the work is in progress, unlike good books and movies, profit will come only if the ending is incredibly peaceful and boring.

With the ultimate end to the war still in doubt, we at the New Israel Fund continue working on several fronts, including via the organizations we support:

  • Our partners at various think tanks continue to work on changing the discourse by bringing new ideas to the public realm. Molad, The Council for Peace and Security, Mitvim, Shacharit and others have been very busy over the last month bringing new ideas and policy proposals to the table – taking into account the events not just in Israel but also in Syria, Iraq and Egypt as well.
  • Confronting racism – probably the most distressing backlash of this war --is also taking time and resources. Numerous grantees, and, of course Shatil, are trying to come up with ways to lower the temperature, improve the language in the public sphere, put pressure on officials, protect Arab citizens in their workplaces and take legal action as necessary.
  • Because so many activists have been arrested during peaceful demonstrations, we are assisting with their legal expenses and defense.
  • Several interesting new initiatives such as "Women Wage Peace" are on our radar, and we will follow and perhaps support their activities in the coming months.

As an Israeli who doesn't travel often to the U.S., it amazes me that so many Americans and other supporters of Israel around the world understand the need for bonds between like-minded people to achieve change and so choose to support the New Israel Fund and provide the resources with which we make these grants. When we make our decisions about where the money goes, I never forget where it is coming from, and how invested you are in a better Israel. We do not take your support for granted. Thank you again for your spiritual and economic support.


About the Author

Elah Alkalay

Elah Alkalay

Elah Alkalay is a board member of the New Israel Fund, chair of our Grants Committee, and a businesswoman working in finance in Tel Aviv. Click here to read her full bio »


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