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  • Writer's pictureCatie Staszak

Daniel Bluman: My Responsibility to Israel


Daniel Bluman (ISR). Photo by Tomas Holcbecher


In response to the Oct. 7, 2023 terrorist attacks in Israel, Olympic show jumping veteran and World No. 13 Daniel Bluman (ISR) reflects on the impact the attacks and resulting antisemitism have had on himself, his family and the Jewish community. He penned the following:

 

I woke up Saturday, October 7 to many missed calls and text messages. I told my wife Ariel that it seemed like something very bad was happening in Israel. We turned on the news.


As the day went on, we realized that Israel’s plight was way worse than anything we had ever lived to witness. We watched and read seemingly endless reports of Israeli citizens killed and taken hostage, while terrorists remained inside the communities in the south. These were communities with which we work, and where we have loved ones and friends. Israel was at war.


It wasn’t long before I was informed by the Israel Equestrian Federation that Israeli athletes wouldn’t be able to compete for the time being due to possible threats.


Over the course of the next few days, I spent my mornings riding two or three horses and then the rest of my day reading and watching the news. The horrors of what happened October 7 were beyond my comprehension. The images, videos and stories about victims hurt my soul. I felt genuine pain for the kidnapped and their families, of the family members of those killed.


Israel responded offensively, targeting the terrorists and their infrastructure, which uses civilians as human shields. Many innocent Palestinians suffered and died: It’s a complete human tragedy. Every time I looked at my sons, I could only think of the pain the parents of every victim were feeling, both Israeli and Palestinian.


My family cooperates with an equine therapy project in a Kibbutz, and this safe haven was devastatingly affected by the terrorist attack. Among the hostages held in Gaza is a patient of the program, Erez. Erez turned 12 years old while in captivity. Erez and many like him need therapy, because Israel lives in constant threat from its neighbors.


The fallout from these attacks has been widespread, to say the least, and Israel has not received the support for which I’ve hoped. It’s been heartbreaking to read about pro-Palestinian protests in major cities in America, and in some of America’s “best” universities. These protests, which call for Israel’s destruction have become common. Calling Hamas "resistance fighters" and not terrorists has become widely accepted. Not condemning terrorists for what they are and allowing hate speech in our American institutions is both disappointing and dangerous. Mass murder and execution should not be accepted, under any circumstances.


Calling Israel an apartheid state, a state that seeks ethnic cleansing and commits genocide is harmful to every Jew. Antisemitism is on the rise because of the dissemination of misinformation by indoctrinated people that lack knowledge and understanding about the complexity of the history and political issues in the Middle East. I cannot say that I have the answer, but I do know that it is not this.


My children’s pre-school has had to hire extra security. I have to follow strict protocols in competition, and I am forced to take extra precautions for my safety, because I represent Israel. I represent Israel by choice. I was born in Colombia and raised between Colombia and Florida. I represent Israel, because I love what Israel stands for. My grandfather is a Holocaust survivor who spent three years in Auschwitz and moved to Colombia after liberation. I never thought I would be alive to witness anything that remotely resembled those despicable and horrible acts.


Israel was founded 75 years ago on a small piece of land made of more than 50% desert. Today, Israel has some of the highest standards of living in the Middle East. It is the only democratic country in the region. Israel’s $100 billion economy is larger than all our immediate neighbors combined. Israel has the largest number of start-ups in the world, outside of the United States. Israel is self-sufficient for energy, food, and water. Israel is among the top technological countries in the world. For Jews around the world, Israel is a home away from home.


I am very proud of Israel. And when I started to represent Israel, I knew the responsibility that came with it. I treasure that responsibility. In difficult times like we are living, I am prouder than ever to be a sports ambassador of Israel.


My prayers and thoughts are with everyone that is suffering in this war against Hamas and Islamic radicals in the Middle East. From all of the unbelievable pain, I wish for us, the young generation and our children, to learn to live among diversity in a respectful and caring manner.

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