Giving Terrorism the Middle Finger

 Growing up in the Intifadah gave my wife a different view of terror than I had, coming from a distance. Until 9/11, I didn’t know any “terror survivors.”  I didn’t know people who had lost loved ones. I didn’t know victims.

Perhaps I’ve simply been in Israel long enough or perhaps we now live in a reality our leaders refuse to come to terms with. Either way, I’ve unfortunately joined a “club” that my wife has been a member of since being a young girl – the club that has lost friends, the club that knows friends who’ve survived, and the club who is around friends constantly that have lost precious loved ones. Growing up in the USA, hearing “attack in Israel” was simply a sad piece of news. Today, “terror attack in Gush Etzion” means, “are my in-laws OK?” “Stabbing in Jerusalem” means, “is my brother safe?” “Rock throwing on the light rail injures 4” has become, “I hope my sister wasn’t there.”

So maybe I’m late to the game, but I’m certainly not unique.

All of this brings me to last night. A night of fun. A night of laughter.

Last night, my wife and I went to Comedy for Koby. For those who don’t know what it is, I could never do it justice, so I suggest checking out Comedy for Koby. Briefly, Comedy for Koby is a comedy tour organized by Avi Liberman, an American Jewish comic, through the Koby Mandell Foundation, which has two tours a year in Israel. Proceeds from the show go to help Camp Koby, a camp for family members who lost loved ones to terror. Comedy for Koby has been going on for 8 years, and last night was the 8th consecutive tour that my wife and I attended.

We initially started going in June 2012 as a fun way of celebrating 6 months of dating. Fast forward 6 months and we went to celebrate a year of dating. Fast forward 3 years and we haven’t stopped (going to Comedy for Koby or seeing/dating each other, eventually marrying). And boy is it funny! And that’s why we continued going. It’s always a great laugh, and fun to hear American comics with their take on what’s invariably their first visit to Israel. Hearing American comedians talk about their experience with Ben Gurion Airport security and passport control, the shuk, listening to one who had the unfortunate (or perhaps professionally fortunate) luck of witnessing Women of the Wall the first time he visited the Kotel/Western Wall – all of these and such much more make for hilarity. Not to mention it’s always fun being able to hear professional comedy live in Israel…in English.

So how does this connect to my opening?

Last night, I really saw Comedy for Koby in a different light. Maybe in the aftermath of what friends experienced a year ago in Operation Protective Edge, or perhaps our collective experience more recently, including witnessing terror first hand, hearing of friends injured, helping give treatment to a terror survivor, this was no longer a fun night out. This was an act of defiance. How do we respond to terror? Do we call a “Day of Rage” like some neighbors in the region? Do we respond with “vigilante justice?” No! We respond by giving terrorist the middle finger and living our lives, strongly and proudly. We respond to terror by laughing at Israeli taxi drivers and Shabbat in Tel Aviv.

Avi’s jokes about Talmud class in the 5th grade will never bring back Ezra Schwartz or Max Steinberg. But it will continue to make us smile and give us hope for the future.

As we light the candles of Chanuka (“The Festival of Lights”), this post has once again been making the rounds on Facebook:

It remains as true as ever before. In 1932, the Nazi regime stood for the destruction of the Jewish people. Today, within our very ancient homeland, we see attempts to destroy the Jewish people, whether praying on the Temple Mount or waiting for a bus to school. Either way, the menorah is a clear reminder that we stood tall 2,000 years ago. Rachel Posner’s picture is a clear reminder we stood resolutely 70 years ago. And Avi Liberman and the entire Comedy for Koby tour (along with Seth and Sherri Mandell of course) remain clear reminders that we will continue to stand firm in the face of terror.

Thanks again for a wonderful evening and Chanukah Sameach (Happy Hanukah) to all!