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Drafted For Foreign Service


What it means to be an olah and diplomatic cadet after October 7 

As an olah who wasn't born and raised here, I never dared to dream that one day I would serve the State of Israel as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Even less could I have imagined, not in my worst nightmares, that I would do so following the greatest tragedy this young state has ever encountered.

My beloved home by choice, which under the Law of Return grants a safe haven for the Jewish people, was brutally attacked on October 7. The shock and pain were deep, but it united the entire spectrum of Israeli society, when just a day before, this had seemed almost impossible. The waves of united support reminded me of why I had come here: The connectedness to each other, the immediate aid offered by so many people to the victims, the Israeli soldiers who risked their lives for ours. This makes Israeli not just a home, but a family.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not stood still for a second since the attack. It works day and night to unveil the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Hamas. The world has to understand the State of Israel's obligation to its citizens, which is to make sure such atrocities never happen again, and that all of our kidnapped men, women and children come back home NOW. They are not just someone's family members. They are our family.

It is against this background that the diplomatic cadet course opened its classrooms on December 3. One of our first visits took us to the Gaza border, to Nir Oz, where we met survivors of October 7. One of them was a young man who hid with his toddler for many hours. He felt it was the angel of death that determined who would be murdered and who would escape the terrorists that day. Or was it coincidence, as another survivor believed, that made him and his children survive, while his neighbors were butchered or burnt alive?

Eighty years after my grandparents survived the death camps, concentration camps, and ghettos of the Nazis, we faced a horrendous pogrom within our own state. For an olah who came here to feel the safety of a home, this is particularly challenging. But is it safer elsewhere, in our old homes, which many of us still feel connected to and cherish?

Unfortunately, the poisonous "from the river to the sea" propaganda of Hamas supporters has grown to huge proportions worldwide, often accompanied by a total lack of understanding that what they are calling for is the eradication of Israel. But more than that, these calls also come with verbal and physical attacks against Jews and cause an exponential rise in antisemitism.

It is our job to make clear: Never again is now! We, 41 diplomatic cadets, who had the privilege to be chosen from over 2,000 candidates, will have to face this challenge already next summer serving in one of Israel's embassies. This, in addition to numerous other important tasks we will have to carry out as Israeli diplomats, in cooperation with our local partners.

The current course is proud to have sixty percent women, and over ten percent members of non-Jewish minorities, including Druze and Muslim. We are also more than ten percent olim, who chose to build our homes here, learned the language and adapted to the culture. All of us are integral members of this democracy, and will represent a diverse Israeli culture when we start our mission.

As US president Biden has recalled several times, Golda Meir told him not to worry, because Israel had a secret weapon: we had nowhere else to go. The role of the State of Israel, even and particularly after this attack, is still and has to remain the haven for the Jewish people. Olim might understand that better than anyone, and therefore the chance to represent Israel worldwide has a very special meaning for us. 

Diplomatic Cadet Course, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Photo Credit: Shlomi Amsalem

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Monday, 22 July 2024

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