My name is Rebecca Jean Keenan.
I am a Christian. I am a Latina. I am a wife. I am a mother.
But today, above all, I am your friend.
My friends call me Becky.
They’ve called, texted, WhatsApped and posted on social media with a somber fervor that has shattered my heart into a million pieces.
An unshakable heaviness has weighed on my soul since Oct. 7. The pain experienced by my friends is etched on my heart, never to be forgotten. I hope it will someday be healed.
In the Bible, it says a friend sticks closer than a brother. Today, I can’t help but stick to Israel, stick to the latest headlines, stick to my Jewish community.
I’m stuck, but I don’t want to get unstuck. It’s permanent. It’s lasting.
In many ways, it’s a promise never to let go.
This promise began when my father enlisted to serve his country in our fight against hatred over 80 years ago. World War II profoundly marked the lives of many, including his. He served in displaced persons camps and witnessed the horrors of antisemitism in their rawest form.
I will never forget when he took me to see the film “Voyage of the Damned,” about the SS St. Louis, a ship carrying Jewish refugees from the Holocaust that was refused entrance to the United States.
For the first time, I understood the terrible fate that befell these human beings, who were cast aside by evil people who had the power to help and did not. These people had the power to extend an open hand but instead chose the spiteful indifference of a closed fist.
Now we see these fists viciously, hatefully and shockingly raised in our most venerated educational institutions, where the cancer of antisemitism has festered with no deterrence, no question, no conscience.
How could this happen? What did we miss?
Many disturbed, lost and enraged young people have found something in antisemitism: A profound sense of community and identity that the church and synagogue have failed to provide.
The existential threat to Israel and the terror waged against it have been romanticized beyond recognition, transformed into murderous hypocrisy, a depraved rallying cry for “justice” with no basis in truth.
Yet this movement has lured in the sons and daughters of our nation, many of whom are desperate for a sense of purpose, which antisemitism and anti-Americanism are all too eager to provide.
Hating the Little Satan and the Great Satan makes them feel like God, with the moral superiority and lack of accountability to prove it.
Relentless waves of false information have crashed over this generation—one video, one photo, one social media post at a time—and they have no foundation or protection to fight against it. Did they ever have a chance? Did we give them that chance?
The strategy we’ve been relying on for peacebuilding, relationship-building, reconciliation, minority outreach, inclusivity and reevaluation of our past all came crashing down on Oct. 7, with the days that followed only proving how wrong we were. How misguided our alliances were. How easy it was for the free world to forget how Jewish it is.
Would the founders of Princeton, Yale or Harvard have had any material to teach, if not for Judaism? Would Christmas be worth celebrating? Would art be worth admiring? Would science be worth respecting?
The disgrace of terrorism that has stained our college campuses is an attack on the very values that made them great. It’s an attack on Western civilization and must be called out for what it is.
To all Jews, I say: Do not look for the approval of those you have created. If they seek to reject you, they are only rejecting themselves.
This time, however, we know where this voyage leads, and this time, we are not doomed to embark on it.
But the real question is this: Who is “we”? Who is the pro-Israel community?
For some time now, the Christian Zionist hand has been earnestly extended, looking to be held, embraced or even acknowledged.
It has fought on college campuses, often met with ridicule. It has voted in favor of the establishment of the State of Israel. It has traveled to Jerusalem in the midst of an intifada. It has lobbied in the halls of Congress. It has broken bread over Shabbat. It has held the hand of a Holocaust survivor. It has posted unwaveringly on social media. It has prayed with a sincerity like no other.
You are not alone.
Let me say that again.
You are not alone.
When rockets fall, when mobs gather, when synagogues are vandalized, when children are kidnapped and entire families are murdered, when nations rise in hatred, you are not alone.
And you have not been alone. The Christian Zionist may not have been your first choice of ally in our often Evangelical, conservative packaging. But we have been the most steadfast.
We may not look the same, speak the same, think the same or act the same—nor do we have to, because our love for Israel is the same. Our respect for freedom is the same. Our fight against those who wish to see our way of life extinguished is the same.
Our enemies know it. It’s time for us to know it too.
Proverbs says, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Let us overcome this incomprehensible adversity together. The Christian hand is outstretched, waiting to be clasped without fear, in true partnership, love and committed friendship. If not now, when?