To my fellow Zionist youth… the future rests on our shoulders! A letter from Australia Netzer Leader


Jewish history has taught us that the future of our People rests on the shoulders of its youth. As kids, we were taught of our People’s story – the tragedy of our displacement and the triumph of our survival and cultural prosperity. We were inspired to care about the world and to question relentlessly. As we grew up, many of us became leaders in our youth movements and community, taking it upon ourselves to guide the next generation of young Jews to take pride in their Jewish and Zionist identity and ownership over making this world a better place.

The tragedies of the last few months have shaken us to our core. We have been taught that Israel is our spiritual home and have witnessed Her people being torn to pieces. We have been taught that a human life is worth a whole world, and wail as we learn of all the worlds that have been, and continue to be, lost. We have been taught to value human dignity above all else, and are watching helplessly as our world fails each day to see the humanity in one another.

Amid all this pain, we are struggling to find a place where we fit in. On the left, we are accused of being colonists and oppressors, and yet we know that all we want is for two peoples to live side by side in peace. On the right, we are attacked for our ‘global power’, and yet we feel more and more powerless every day. In our own community, we are questioned for not caring or failing to show up, and yet it is only because we care too much that after days defending ourselves at university and school, arguing on social media and supporting each other, we have almost no energy left to give. And from within, we are criticised for doing too much, for we too just want to be innocent young people free of the burdens of this world.

But all the hurt and lack of belonging is nothing compared to the pressure we put on ourselves. It was our youth movements who fought so courageously in the Warsaw Ghetto when the rest of the community gave up. It was our movements who set up the first kibbutzim and built the State of Israel from the ground. How can we possibly live up to the transformative tradition we have inherited from the Zionist youth who came before us?

I do not pretend to have the answer but I hope to remind you of our own radical history with hope that, together, we can once again will a dream into a reality. It is, after all, our historic role as young people to look idealistically towards the future when the rest of society is caught up in the past and present. Like always, we must begin by building conviction in our beliefs and values, expressing them loudly as a symbol of pride and connection to our People and our culture. But, to create real change, we must also start to adapt the way we think and learn to sit in some discomfort. We will have to remember that all human life is a whole world, no matter if they are Israeli or Palestinian. We will have to accept that, today, our People’s liberation is woven to that of another, and that the triumph of our People will only ensue when all peoples are able to live freely in peace.

Our role is to remind each other, our community, and the world of this shared humanity. For when human beings are able to look at each other as human beings, when those who stand with Israel or stand with Palestine are able to hug one another and stand for humanity, when we can both mourn together because of the devastating loss that decades of conflict has inflicted on both of our peoples, and when we can one day celebrate our own cultures without fear of diminishing the other, then we will have done our work. So please, continue to educate your peers, pack boxes, give donations and attend rallies. But, in doing so, do not forget to lay down the bricks of radical idealism and social transformation that are so necessary in walking towards true liberation.

At the same time, look after yourself. Find moments to escape this enormous weight of responsibility, breathe in the freshness of the air, and listen to the peaceful sounds of birds chirping and souls singing. As it says in the ancient words of the Hashiveinu prayer: ufros aleinu sukkat shlomecha –  May a shelter of peace spread over us, and may we be guided with wisdom and compassion in all the work that we do.

With deep love and admiration,

Avishai Conyer,

Australia Netzer Leader

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