• - Eden Golan at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Final dress rehearsal | Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Arkland

The downfall of the Cherry Tomato

Tal Hartuv - 17 June 2024

What it actually means to be a light to the nations, is a question that Jewish people have grappled with ever since we received the commandments at Sinai. Stuck in the middle between two pagan empires, making trade and war impossible unless passing through the Land of Israel, the Lord G-d at the very least had geography in mind. Israel was perfectly placed to display our unique and holy ethical code which God wanted us to share because he loved the nations so much.

Jewish history has been rocky. A destroyed Temple, a diaspora, forced conversions, expulsions, the Holocaust and the war waged against the state of Israel ever since its founding in 1948.

But through it all, the question of commission has never left us. Some Jews in history, have been uncomfortable with that question, preferring instead to try to fit in. A case in point is a small group of Jews in Hitler’s Germany who convinced themselves that they were Germans before they were Jewish. The same can be said of some Jews in the diaspora today, especially in the United States, who until the events following 7th October, had felt safe as Jews and integrated into American culture in their own unique way.

Israel too, it can be argued, has put herself out there trying to show how much we are just like everyone else because we like to help everyone else. With the advocacy movement championing the likes of leading technology and inventions that have benefitted the world, (including the famous cherry tomato) – the response of many who use that technology has not been one of gratitude but bullying, being cancelled, being beaten up, excluded from public events, educational institutions and having our synagogues firebombed in the West.

“No matter what a Jew does to fit in, or be liked, or prove we are like everyone else, he or she is always and only, viewed as a Jew”

All of this is done under the pretence of the so-called genocide in Gaza, but many of these Jewish victims of antisemitism have no tangible association with Israel, at a stretch they may having relatives there.

The awkward truth is, and one that Jewish people must no longer deny, is that no matter what a Jew does to fit in, or be liked, or prove we are like everyone else, he or she is always and only, viewed as a Jew. The reality is, the people of Israel were never elected to fit in, but appointed by God, to stand out. That’s what it means to be a light.

A recent case in point is the Eurovision song contest. Most self-respecting Europeans rightly couldn’t care less about a pagan festival that passes for music, but for Israel, this fringe and flamboyant whatever-it-is, where men and women spend more effort making a point of their myriad of gender rather than performing even a semi-decent song, this contest is important.

“The Eurovision song contest weirdly serves as a gauge for measuring public attitudes towards the Jewish people and the Jewish State”

Not for the music, but because it weirdly serves as a gauge for measuring public attitudes towards the Jewish people and the  Jewish State. Some may find this understandably self-obsessed, but not if you’re Jewish, or Israeli, and with antisemitism devouring western society, right up to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it is a must-see.

For the uninitiated, let me explain: Because of the dual voting system, namely, a panel of judges from each country followed by the public casting their ballot by phone, this reveals the attitudes of the establishment and the reality of what an average European really thinks.

The vote was never about the music. A couple of years ago when Ukraine won, they performed a song so bereft of any musical skill that a deaf person could probably have written a better song. It didn’t matter. This was Europe’s chance to tell Putin what they thought of him, and a little vote in contest to be forgotten in a couple of days, was seen, pathetically so, as a blistering show of support for an unjust invasion by Mother Russia.

Now it was Israel’s turn.

“Unlike other entries, Eden Golan stood on stage looking very much like the woman that God had created her to be”

The official jury banished the 20-year-old Israeli singer, Eden Golan, into exile, who stood on stage looking very much like the woman that God had created her to be. Unlike other entries which included a real-live devil worshipper, a man called “Nemo” wearing a tutu and a bunch of British skinheads simulating gay sex in a men’s bathroom.

The voting public however rebelled in overwhelmingly casting their votes in favour of the Jewish singer.

There is a lot to be learned by this bizarre contest. Firstly, the tirade of anti-Israel sentiment in the main stream media which brainwashes people into how cruel and evil Israel is, does not represent the view of many Europeans – who it must be said, are troublingly silent. In historic speak, it was the silent majority during the Holocaust, who arguably did no wrong, yet as the ashes of the six million emerged from the ground, proves that they did not do anything right.

I often speak to the army and cadets at pre-military academies, giving them little pep talks of not just what to expect physically and mentally when you are under extreme stress, but also about the important things in life; namely, it’s not what you do in life, but who you are in what you do. Life is unpredictable and it’s good to keep short accounts. If you have an argument, then kiss and make up.  If you love someone, tell them what it is about them that you love. If you’re at an event and someone is sitting in the corner on their own, go up to them and start a conversation. These are just examples of a basic moral code, not to think of ourselves to highly and to be attentive to others, all of which is in our Holy Torah.

For Remembrance Day this year, I was invited to speak to army cadets on a base near Gaza. The invitation was from 18-year-old Rotem whom I did not know, but had texted me the week before asking me to speak to his group. I meet hundreds of people every year through these talks so I was not surprised to hear that he had met me before, but I was taken aback at the circumstances: He first met me in the forest when he was 5, back in 2010. He was with his brother and his parents having a picnic. Kicking a ball around the park, he looked up and suddenly saw me staggering gagged and bound and bleeding to death. It was his father who gave me first aid and saved my life. Rotem, was shoved in the car by his mother. But he’d seen me covered in blood and had been traumatized ever since. Rotem wanted closure. Meeting me, he believed, would help him get through those grisly memories of that day which had stayed with him ever since.

Those 30 recruits, young men and women, are just a few of the thousands who have had to shelve their college education, not think of getting a job just yet or plan for the popular post-army trip to some exotic country.  Even finding the love of their life is on hold until the war is over.

I looked long and hard into their eyes. Last week some were delivering pizza, now they are learning how to shoot an M16.  These are good kids, like all kids they have their fears, but they also have a purpose and a healthy identity, a sense of belonging to an ancient and wonderful nation and unlike most kids, they are selfless, willing to sacrifice, risk their lives, and sometimes pay the ultimate terrible price.

In them I saw the embodiment of “normal,” which is an unpopular message in a woke world. It was the same normal demonstrated in the likes of our singer Eden Golan. Our children are not restless and ignorant, or obsessed with self. They are not bent on redefining gender and pushing that agenda. Our children know that it is the protection of both nation and family, which is at the core to the survival of the people of Israel. They don’t need to feel part of a manipulated global uprising to feel that they belong. Our children belong to, and are the continuation of our 3000 years of history. They are satisfied with their lot.

“Rotem, his cadets, and Eden Golan, reminded me that it is this generation who are a light to the nations”

Rotem, his cadets, and Eden Golan, reminded me that it is this generation who are a light to the nations: and it is not the invention of the cherry tomato. As the older generation of Israelis, we must do everything to protect their commission by nourishing, loving, encouraging them, and correcting them when necessary, so they will go on shining in a world where many would rather see them gone.

About the Author