We hear a lot about Americans going off to fight as jihadists. What about those who want to serve in the other side of that end-times religious battle, as warriors for the Jewish state?
An Israeli soldier from Ohio who went missing for two days was found yesterday: David Gordon was found in central Israel, dead of gunshot wounds, rifle at his side. The Forward memorializes him as a brilliant budding journalist.
According to his own blog, Gordon had considered joining the US Navy but decided that he was more needed in Israel. His “Reflections of a Warrior in the Israel Defense Forces,” written last year, relates that Gordon was 18 and studying in Jerusalem in 2011 when friends were injured in a bus bombing. Soon after that, Gordon went to Poland to visit Holocaust sites on a trip “heavily subsidized by my gap-year program.” Emphasis mine.
Gordon seems to have had an epiphany about the Jewish condition on that trip, which was
the most emotionally draining tour of my brief history. Mass graves, remnants of Jewish towns and cemeteries, horrific museums and a half a dozen extermination camps are all we saw that week. Aside from my family’s Polish roots and their unwarranted demise at the hands of Jewish hatred, I felt an unyielding magnetism towards Poland. One incident in particular resonated with me and subsequently watered the seeds of my already growing bond with the State of Israel and ultimately led to my future service in the Israel Defense Forces.
On day three of the dreaded trek, we drove to Krakow home to the Old Jewish Cemetery, ancient synagogues and the factory-turned-museum of Oskar Schindler, the unconventional humanitarian and subsequent inspiration for Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film. It was high noon on a clear day when our bus stopped at a red light only to be greeted by a storm.
Presumably because of the eager looks on our bus’s Orthodox-looking passengers, a group of around 10 natives standing on the sidewalk faced us and simultaneously and ceremoniously saluted their arms in a hail to Hitler. I was stunned for only a few moments before a current of fury surged through my veins. Some passengers reciprocated with their own middle-fingered salute while others banged barbarously on the bus’s window. Unable to properly express my own buildup of emotion, I slouched low in my seat and began to cry. Perhaps it was due to the overload of images from our walks through numerous Nazi death camps, gas chambers and human furnaces of a dark history or the harsh reality that I was powerless in the face of present day anti-Semitism. Here I was, a mere bus ride away from the the exact spot where the SS butchered and burned an upwards of 80 members of my extended family in the central city of Kalisz over 70 years ago and watching as modern day Poles all but urinated on their graves….
Gordon’s motivation to serve Israel recalls the indoctrination trips to Poland for Israeli youth documented in the movie Defamation, by Yoav Shamir. And it recalls Jeffrey Goldberg’s youthful determination to do the same in the 1980s. “The fear of anti-Semitism is the forge on which” he built his identity as a young Jew, Goldberg wrote in his memoir, Prisoners. “I believed a red river of anti-Semitism ran under the surface of America.” Jews led “the dog’s life of the Diaspora. We were a whipped and boneless people.” So Goldberg moved to Israel (till he found Israel too tough, and came back here to pursue his career).
David Gordon’s 2013 post is feverish about the global threat of anti-Semitism. It is a pastiche of neoconservative and Zionist claims about Islam.
I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States.
When Operation Pillar of Defense was launched in November 2012, I was in New York doing research for a feature article on security in Israel and the region as a journalist for The Suit Magazine. My thoughts were with the Israeli people and the IDF and like many others I was infuriated by the ongoing circumstances in Israel. Coupled with my newfound understanding of the vast reach of Israel’s enemies, the war opened my eyes. There is no isolated incident of terror in Jewish history. The Pogroms, the Holocaust, the Jerusalem Bus Stop Bombing, the onslaught of rocket fire leading up to Operation Pillar of Defense and countless other incidence are part of a larger enigmatic epidemic of anti-Semitism that is far outdated yet nonetheless alive and active. To claim that Israel’s enemies make a distinction between Israel the Nation and Israel the People or that they are solely resisting oppressive Zionism is misguided as is apparent in Hamas’s Charter….The threat of modern day supreme spiritual leaders and quasi-dictators implementing their radical ideologies and racial opposition is very much real and the IDF is present in Israel to thwart the very plausible “Holocaust 2.0” against the Jews. Thousands if not millions of of Islamic fascists want to pounce on the Jew much like the conspirators of the Final Solution did during the second World War at a much larger volume of hatred, propaganda and indoctrination than I can fathom. Their rally-calls for global dominance through Jihad and relentless pursuit of scapegoatism to pacify the troubles of their flocks echoes those of their 20th century counterparts. But Israel won’t let their ominous threats become true. I won’t let them become true.