Terror Attack on Israel: EO Member Response With Nir Zavaro, Ami Kassar, Fran Biderman-Gross, and Ab DeWeese

John Corcoran 11:00

And Fran, from your perspective, where were you on Saturday when you heard the news and and what was the first couple of days like for you? You’re muted. 

Fran Biderman-Gross 11:15

So I was in synagogue, on Saturday morning, when the guard, you know, when I kind of walked in the guard pulled me aside and, and said, I know this is gonna be really hard for you, but people are going to be talking inside that we learned about this. And I was you know, we were at the tail end of Sukkot, our incredible holiday, which was very joyous, celebrating, you know, God giving us the Torah and, and there was nothing joyous about it, it was very difficult. We didn’t have access to a lot of communication being the Sabbath and which was really a holiday that really sprung right through Sunday night. And we were, you know, just at our neighbors trying really hard to celebrate life while getting information knowing. I have family on the front lines, I have lived in Israel for four years. I mean, I’ve been, I feel like I was the only Shomer Shabbat, original Jew, you know, 20 years ago, back in back when I started, you know, in 2003 Four, and I just, um, it was it was so hard to be so helpless, and you know, living straight in New York, we were so close to ground zero, and everybody started to compare it. And when we understood Saturday late morning that there was a war declare declaration and we had started seeing images and scrolling phones through pictures with with other people. It was just it was it was devastating to learn the horrific atrocities being carried out to innocent civilians, and this is why you know, your fight is our fight. It’s not it’s not okay, I’m not okay, we’re not okay. All of us are not okay. This is a violation of humanitarian rights. Everybody deserves to feel safe in their own home, in their streets, in going to school going to buy a cup of coffee. It’s not okay to brutally rape and behead babies and burn bodies. It’s not okay. This was much more. 

It is much more indicative of the Holocaust in which such is a subject very close to my family’s heart. And we’re so involved still to this day with keeping those memories of these people alive. And it’s just horrific. And it’s very difficult to stand and quiet. It’s very difficult not to voice to the broader community that this is not about a real estate issue. This is not about Jewish or Palestinian. This is a humanitarian right. And their fight the Israeli people. This is our fight. It’s a humanitarian fight for the dignity of human beings, not to be violated. And for this community to come together this way to stand with the people of Israel, Your fight is our fight. There is no doubt this is not just going to stay inside the borders of Israel. There is no doubt in my mind. We are targeted everywhere. And we have to be careful, and we have to unify and we have to there’s a never again slogan This is never again this will not happen. We will not be extinguished. We will not go quietly preserving the right of humanity. And we will do everything we can to band together. To ensure that propaganda does not when we are going to band together to make sure that the atrocities never happen to another human being. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe in their own home. They have a right, that is a basic human right and to be violated brutally it’s just uncomprehending. It’s unconscionable in this day and age. And we just have to focus on the job to be done.

John Corcoran 15:42

And I want to get to that, Fran, because you’ve been very involved. I want to bring you into the conversation as always, I believe you’re in Dallas, Texas, or thereabouts. Us, you started the WhatsApp group. Take us back we’ll Where were you when you heard the news. And you know what motivated you to start getting involved?

Ab DeWeese 16:07

It’s an honor to be here. Like, in some ways, I’m an imposter. I’m an outsider. And I’m not a but but but my heart. My heart is with all of the Jewish people in the world. And I just feel like it’s so it’s so important for everyone to understand what has happened. And the, the depth of the atrocity that’s been committed is is is unconscionable. So I’ll give you guys my perspective. So I’m not Jewish, and I’m not Israeli. And I’m a member of a dad’s group in EO. And I woke up to someone saying, hey, somebody’s posting something political in the chat. And so I jumped in. And I saw that somebody posted something about Israel and an attack. And then, like you said, John, at the beginning, you said, or somebody who’s near said, you know, just it’s run of the mill just happens all the time. So was horrible that they even that it’s so common that you just dismiss it as Oh, it’s just another attack. So I did a quick Google and I found out that it was a, something happened. And then I was like, man, and then I went back and read the post. I was like, I was like, Guys, can we just can we calm down? Can we not, you know, can we keep this channel this sacred place about about being a better man and father and husband because it’s all about leaning into that. And, and then people started posting more and more about it and Athan posted his LinkedIn video where he just kind of did this very, very calm, kind of cry for solidarity and help. And it was only then that I started to piece together, what was happening, and that it was maybe something a little more, and that what I was really hearing from my Jewish friends was this is going to turn into a war, it’s going to be a long and protracted thing. And we need to know that the world is standing behind us. So I did I just thought, well, let me just create a WhatsApp group might do it in the dad’s chat and ask us to join and people started piling in, and it got, they got way bigger than me really, really fast. But as I was able to kind of hang on to by, just hang on to my seat, follow along. 

And then the shift that started coming out, pissed me off. And I started to learn about what happens to teenagers at a party and to babies and burning houses. And the magnitude of what happened and it pissed me off. And I got I just began to follow it. And I had to I had to get back to my dad’s chat and apologize, guys, I’m really sorry. I tried to come in and moderate that did not realize how heinous this was. And I find this even now, I’m different WhatsApp communities. I might say, like, sad with the Jewish people. Let’s come in. And somebody’s gonna comment and say that let’s not get political. Let’s not get political. Because it’s not politics, y’all. They beheaded babies, they burned people alive in their houses, They drugged them out They drugged mothers and young children across the border and kidnapped them. Like these are the things are horror movies, and the people that committed this are evil. Right? And so to sit back and call this anything other than that is a bunch of BS and I hope that that the people that are listening, that are not Jewish, and can take a take a really, really hard look. Like don’t just read the Washington Post, don’t just receive don’t just read the news as it’s put out and listen to them talk about like, context or fair and balanced like no, look for the facts, read past that read through, do your own research, dig deep, understand what happened and then and then decide for yourself whether or not you’re going to take a moral stand, because what was done was unconscionable. And, and for me, it was it was sort of having to face that question of All right, you know, you sometimes you don’t like being backed into a corner and having to make a decision when someone makes you take them to the mat. 

And, and I’m like, when someone puts me in that position, I always try to offer them a lot of options and give them a lot of alternatives, a lot of options. Some people insist on backing up to a corner and making you take them to the mat. And it is not Israel’s fault. They their hand has been forced, and they are going to retaliate. And the world needs to stand behind them. So thank thanks for Jenkins. Mr. Tall, John. Yeah, thanks.

John Corcoran 20:42

I want to move to talking about some of the mobilization costs. Yeah, go ahead, me.

Ami Kassar 20:51

God bless you for doing what you did, and standing up for what you did. And this is not about this is not just a Jewish group. And I’m so proud to where I haven’t really spent much time to, but to consider you a friend and for your leadership. And this is not your, your, you’re a part of us. This is not us versus them. And so, really, I just want to take a minute, I don’t quite remember exactly what you said at the beginning. But the beauty, in my perspective, one of the biggest beauties about the group that was formed about 900 years, there’s a good amount of Jews in there, but it’s absolutely not all Jewish. There are plenty of members of different races and ethnicities, and backgrounds, and religions and nationalities in there. And we should celebrate that and add your you’re staying as the leader of the group, whether you like it or not.

John Corcoran 21:53

I think there also are certain moments in time, when we look back at our lives where something significant happens and it we have epiphanies for me, I have to say that this has been an epiphany for me, and it’s been about Israel, and the importance of Israel. And I, I admit I didn’t fully understand and appreciate why Israel is so important. And we can’t let what happened to Afghanistan happened to Israel, and we have to protect it. And if if we don’t protect Israel, it’s as everyone has said, it’s going to be Washington DC next is going to be New York next. And it’s going to be other reasons to hate people, other groups of people. But let’s I do want to provide some practical resources for those who are listening, and some ways in which they can get involved and meet, you want to talk a little bit about specifically in EO the different groups that are forming and some of the different ways in which people are focusing their energies,

Ami Kassar 22:56

As of today, and this is a moving target. So it could change. There are there is a there is a broad Whatsapp group, and Akiles for Israel. And maybe in this show, you can include some of these links if you open the share. And then really at the director, the Israel chapter, we have divided into three core initiatives. One of them is donations. There are 1000s of please and campaigns for a wide variety of organizations and people asking for money for Israel. But we’ve done this with the chapters we’ve worked to really identify the most urgent needs in the street. And to ensure that we are facilitating the destinations where all the money gets to the people, or the resources who need it. The second group, and any your members are welcome to join these groups is about social media and marketing. It is a group and we have a lot of marketing resources in EO working to build campaigns and infrastructure and knowledge to help get the word out and get the messages out in the community. And the third is member helping members. So eo is a global organization. While Israel is a relatively small chapter with I think 42 members. It’s a powerful chapter. Many of those businesses are just thrown into disarray. Either think a little bit about the US for the US listeners and COVID and we have PPP. There’s no PPP right now in Israel. Many athletes have been sent off to war and the snap businesses are shot and the government that does not have structure and support. These members need help us the business level and on a personal level. And eel community will do everything we can to help them Those are the three core initiatives. There is a daily zoom call, which I think we should include in the links, John, if you can, that any phone numbers are joined to have 11 o’clock, we are testing one additional group in those zoom calls, which today didn’t help people out. But maybe people will start to show, which is just a place a safe space, like a forum like space, that people want to get together and talk about their feelings, ask their questions, their struggles, trying to understand what’s going on. And we will continue to do that and see if it becomes a need or not, but a place for at any year members. And hopefully, at the same time, we can help use that to build some bridges in the community. Yeah.

John Corcoran 25:47

Fran, I know you’ve been leveraging some of your expertise in helping to mobilize this group and specifically around the messaging which, you know, in spite of the horrors and atrocities and everything is important, right? Because there’s, there’s a reason why there’s a lot of misunderstanding. And there what there’s a reason why people think that, you know, this is not a tip, some people think that it’s not a terror attack, and they think it’s about politics. And it’s about messaging and communication. And so those things are important to get right. So talk a little bit about please some of the conversations that are talking about how to communicate about this event.

Fran Biderman-Gross 26:29

So when I think Stan, I really appreciate you highlighting this a little bit we right now like to ABS point and thank you, brother, I really appreciate you more than you know. When when I think about how do we create education for a wider audience to understand beyond? EO I think about the outcome of my concern, which actually worries me that at some point, there will be a mass change with Israel’s position, right? We’re assembling and quiet at the moment, somewhat quiet. But it’s gonna get much louder and much bigger. And the propaganda is going to start it’s already starting. And we’re going to, we are up against right if you think about the state of Israel is smaller than the state of New Jersey, right? Like, just think about the magnitude of the piece of land that now hosts just a few million people, and that the state is 60 years old. We need education, we can’t we need to be able to share information so that the broader population doesn’t get sucked up into the propaganda doesn’t get sucked into a real estate issue doesn’t get stuck into a Jew versus Palestine issue. This is not about freeing Palestine. This is not about facts. This is about a humanitarian understanding that we have to stand with the Jewish people. Because these are barbaric, inconceivable acts against humanitarian life. And it breaks the code of, of life rules. And we need to educate that and their fight. What’s going on over there is our fight here. And we need to take a stand and do our best in a very respectful way in accordance and alignment with the charter of EO to take our own values and apply them here. 

So I stand with the Jewish people and then I stand with Israel are two very different messages. And it’s really about the people. And I stand with the Jewish people is our main primary message and there will be offshoots of trying to campaign right every we deserve. Everybody deserves human rights and deserves a safe place. There is no question that your fight the people of Israel, Your fight is my fight doesn’t matter if I’m not there. And I have adopted that fight in an educational way, and doing everything I can to buy a bunch of suitcases and fill up things with needs, and get them to the airport. I’m blessed to live right near JFK. And I’m blessed to have really deep contact contacts into incredible places that have allowed me to just give and to do and to serve. And to be honest, since Sunday night, that’s all we’ve been mobilizing. And maybe it’s just the location New York is the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. So we don’t feel alone. We feel scrambled. But it’s very difficult when people in my community have children on the front lines. We are we are there with you. We are separated by a sea and a few bunch of 1000 miles but we are suffering greatly in our job in this platform. was to not be drowned out it is to completely elevate the educational voice. We won’t I don’t I have no more words. Sorry.

John Corcoran 30:11

Yeah, that’s okay. Fran and I want to thank all you guys for being here. I know you all have lots to do. So I’m gonna let you go any final thoughts from Ami or Ab?

Ami Kassar 30:21

I want to share one thing if I can a friend call me two nights ago I think the salami made me feel better Tommy the world’s like to get better. My response was, I can’t tell you what’s gonna happen the world but I can’t tell you the way I’m feeling better just by doing something to help. So just do something friends, whatever it is, get involved in some way. It’s small, medium, big, whatever works for you. But do something. And if you do something, and put a look at that this battle will be won by millions and millions of small acts of kindness and small acts of determination small acts of love. AB you’re a hero, you’re okay, and just do whatever it is to something whether that means take a suitcase to pack something in a suitcase, give a little bit of money, or go to a rally or go to a campaign, share, share post your feelings and social. Just do something. Something. Yeah, whatever it is, collectively, all those some things will be great.

John Corcoran 31:46

Ab, any final thoughts?

Ab DeWeese 31:48

Yeah, I would have a call to action, a specific ask for Jewish EO members outside of Israel. So if you’re outside of Israel, and you’re ne yo and you’re Jewish, I would implore you to, it’s going to, it’s going to be a lot harder than it normally is. But to embrace your form mindset, and to be open and to very slowly, gently educate your non-Jewish friends. And some people were able to do that to me, I was able to see for myself and understand what was going on. Ami led a similar talk in his chapter. And I have friends that attended. They’re like, wow, this so so to the extent that you the Jewish non-Israeli listener, can give just a little bit more of that forum mindset to bring your friends into awareness of what’s going on, you know, we can we can build that awareness. That will be my ask.

Ami Kassar 32:43

On that point Ab. If you’re confused, have questions. Ask, don’t quite get it. Come join us every day on Zoom at 11 o’clock every day. If it’s two people, three people, five people, 10 people, I don’t care. And we will in a forum conversation in a very emotionally intelligent way. Talk us through I learned things the other night from the apps front. Come join those calls at 11 am. 

Fran Biderman-Gross 33:19

And I’m super grateful for you taking to the power of audio podcasts.

John Corcoran 33:24

Yes. As Ami said, it’s the least we can do, right? You know, just doing whatever little part we can. So we’ll wrap up there. Thank you all. Appreciate everything you’re doing and he’s to be with you all. Thank you so much. Thank you very much.