by Jill W. Smith
The world is filled with politicians. There are few leaders among them. Politicians pander. Leaders take stands, often unpopular and consequently, courageous. Michael Bloomberg is not a politician. He is a leader.
At a time when Israel is facing what is deemed by many as an existential threat from not only Hamas, but from the reprobation of too many in the international community, Michael Bloomberg stands with Israel. But for those who know the measure of this man, it comes as no surprise that he does not just stand with Israel in words, but demonstrates his stance with action.
Bloomberg had a swift and clear reaction to the FAA decision to halt flights from the U.S. to Israel: Ben Gurion Airport is safe and I will fly there on Israel’s national airline El Al to demonstrate my confidence in that belief. His mantra is simple – don’t stop living your life because if you give in to the terrorists, they win.
Michael Bloomberg has joined with the citizens of Israel in expressing his deepest sympathies to all who have lost loved ones in the past 16 days of battle. He recognizes that justice and democracy are gifts that are not to be ceded to terrorists.
Israel could use more friends like Michael Bloomberg. Yes, the usual core group from within the North American Jewish community are united in their support of Israel. But too many high profile secular Jews throughout the diaspora remain silent. Or worse, critical. Not Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg understands that terrorists have no moral legitimacy. He understands that he is a powerful man with a significant following and that his words and deeds demonstrating solidarity with Israel can help sway thoughts.
The inaugural recipient of the Genesis Prize has shown the world that success is not enough. Powerful values, Jewish values embedded in his very DNA, drive his assumption of personal responsibility for “Tikkum Olam”, repairing the world. The strength of Bloomberg’s informed, conscience driven leadership sets an important example for young people. In Bloomberg they see an innovator, a secular public figure who still cares deeply about the Jewish homeland, Israel.
Role models like Michael Bloomberg are particularly key in the midst of today’s struggles. Words and deeds of anti-Semitism appear to be at a post-World War II high, with no sign of the hatred abating. Young Jews within Israel and throughout the global Jewish community see leaders like Michael Bloomberg as strong decisive decision makers who have a clear sense of right and wrong and are not afraid to speak and act on those convictions. In fact, Bloomberg understands that with power or success comes an obligation to seek to better the world.
The hope for not only the State of Israel, but for the future of world Jewry rests with leaders like Michael Bloomberg. Unequivocally and proudly standing up to the world and for Israel sends a strong message and puts forth a stellar example. The Millenial generation must understand that political correctness should not trump moral courage.
Let’s not forget that on this glorious summer day, Michael Bloomberg could be on the golf course … on any golf course in the world. He could be cruising on a yacht. But he, as a man of great conviction and integrity has chosen instead to travel to and stand with Israel. He has demonstrated compassion, commitment and strength to the world, which resonates loudly within the Jewish community.
In the words of the great Rabbi Tarfon, “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”
Jill W. Smith is Senior Advisor to the Chairman, Genesis Prize Foundation.