TSIPURSKY: Don’t Let Politics Divide Us. My Family’s History Shows What Happens If We Do

In the shadow of history’s darkest moments, we find the roots of empathy and the drive for a more peaceful future. As I witness the current devastation in Israel, a place with deep personal and familial connections, it strikes a poignant chord in my heart, reviving memories of the struggles endured by my own family during the Holocaust. The echoes of that time ripple through the generations, as do the lessons we must glean from it.

The suffering in Israel invokes a deeply personal narrative for me. My family’s ordeal began in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, during the tumult of World War II when it was seized by German forces. The Holocaust was not just a historical event but a grim chapter in my family’s story. My grandmother, a widow with young children, my father among them, faced the horrors of war and the threat of annihilation because of their Jewish identity. My grandfather’s early death in the war left them vulnerable, but they found solace and safety through the kindness of Ukrainians who helped conceal their identity. This act of compassion enabled their survival and escape to Soviet territory, a journey fraught with peril but necessary for survival.

The post-war years were no less challenging. Growing up in the Soviet Union, my father experienced the sting of anti-Semitic discrimination that stifled his aspirations for education and career advancement. These injustices, while not as physically destructive as the Holocaust, left deep scars on his, and consequently, our family’s psyche.

Decades later, the dissolution of the USSR presented an opportunity, a narrow escape to a world that promised freedom. My family, including myself as a ten-year-old, seized the chance to immigrate to the United States. Simultaneously, many of our relatives found refuge in Israel — a land that was supposed to be a sanctuary for Jews worldwide. The connection to Israel was further solidified when I visited over a decade ago, an experience that was both profoundly meaningful and deeply moving.

My family’s survival story is a testament to resilience and the kindness of strangers in the face of unimaginable adversity. Yet, today’s attacks in Israel bring into focus not just historical pain but also the persistent vulnerability of the Jewish community. This personal connection to Israel, through my bloodline and the possibility of an alternate life there, amplifies the distress I feel as I witness the current violence.

The recent surge of anti-Semitic incidents and statements in the United States has been both alarming and personally devastating. This virulent prejudice is a bitter reminder of the shadows cast by my family’s history — shadows that reach back to the Holocaust, where they, along with countless others, were persecuted simply for being Jewish. Such contemporary displays of hatred are not only a direct affront to the memory of those dark times but also to the values of tolerance and diversity that we, as a society, claim to cherish.

My family’s story, from the Holocaust to Soviet anti-Semitism and finally to a new life in America, has always been a poignant testament to the resilience against hate. Yet, when anti-Semitic rhetoric and violence surface in a country that symbolizes freedom and refuge, the betrayal cuts deep. The United States was meant to be a sanctuary, much like Israel has been for other family members — a place where the persecuted could find safety and a chance to thrive.

It is essential to clarify that my intention is not to diminish the suffering of Palestinians or any other group affected by the multifaceted and complex geopolitical conflicts that plague our world. Rather, it is an acknowledgment of the intimate way in which global events can reverberate within us when they touch upon the threads of our identity and familial bonds.

As a descendant of Holocaust survivors and witnesses to Soviet anti-Semitism, I hope for a future where such suffering is a distant memory. The international community’s efforts must be channeled towards fostering peace and understanding among nations, and within regions beset by historical conflicts, such as Israel and its neighbors.

We must advocate for a world where empathy borne of shared humanity supersedes the divisions sown by politics and prejudice. I am moved by the plight of all who suffer due to conflict and yearn for a day when their pain is alleviated. My own family’s history stands testament to the fact that even in the gravest of circumstances, there can be beacons of hope and humanity.

In a world still shadowed by the specters of past atrocities, the path forward is one of reconciliation, dialogue and concerted action towards healing. For the sake of all who have suffered, it is our collective responsibility to strive for a world where no individual’s potential is stifled by discrimination, and no family has to endure the harrowing choice between life and exile.

As I reflect on the current tragedies befalling the land where my relatives sought refuge, I am reminded that peace is not merely a distant ideal, but an urgent necessity. Let the memories of past horrors be a clarion call to action, galvanizing us towards a future where every individual, in Israel and beyond, can live in safety and dignity, un-haunted by the specters of historical suffering.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the future-proofing consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, and wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, a best-seller called Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.