The Jewish people have a history of feeling alone. During the Holocaust, there was no one that spoke out in support of us, that helped us, that came to our rescue until six million of us were killed.
Now, after the horrific October 7 attack against so many of our brothers and sisters in Israel, a situation in which children were taken and still are being held hostage, we are feeling alone again. There are rallies of hundreds of thousands against us, speaking out against the Jews directly, people who suddenly are becoming human rights activists even though they don’t actually understand the situation and haven’t spoken out against any other world issue in the past.
The Jews are fighting in self-defense. We’re fighting now because we couldn’t then. We’re fighting because we have a State and people to defend and because no other country would allow themselves to be trampled over. In this fight of good and evil, we will always fight for good, even if it means no one is on our side while we do it.
Luckily though, this time, we do have support. Aston Bright is one of those incredible humans that heard about the attack on October 7 and immediately came to Israel’s side. He is a Black non-Jewish firefighter who had served in Israel previously as a part of the Emergency Volunteers Project. It’s an organization that has firefighters from around the world on-call, that are willing to come to Israel to help in the event of an emergency, among other services.
Bright has served in Israel twice since his original training trip, both times putting out fires that occurred as a result of a terrorist attack. Bright has been a friend to Jews all his life. He grew up in a primarily Jewish community and retains those close friendships to this day. His network has only expanded as he’s gained new friends through his service in Israel.
When he first heard about the attacks on October 7, he knew he had to come help. “It wasn’t even a question of if I was coming,” Bright says. “It was just about how soon I could get there.”
Bright explains the choice to come to Israel immediately after a horrific attack. He says his choice to put his own life on the line to help the Jews was a no brainer. “It was an easy decision for me,” he shares. “80 years ago, who came to help the Jewish people when they were crying and calling for help? No one. Nothing else mattered at that moment, I needed to come.”
What’s firing him up more than the physical work though, is the media storm and bias that really is spreading like wildfire.
Bright is someone who is literally on the frontlines seeing everything up close. He has no agenda, he has no reason to lie. He is someone who is simply sharing the truth and desperately wanting the world to educate themselves and know what’s really going on.
That applies abroad and at home. “When I got here and saw people were protesting that nothing really happened, it was just astounding,” he explains. “People are trying to gaslight Israel. They’re asking why Israel won’t have a ceasefire. There was a ceasefire on October 6 which was violated when Hamas launched this genocidal terror attack. I don’t see how Hamas can remain in Gaza after this.”
One thing we’ve seen a lot of is the Jewish blood libel in the media. People are quick to believe numbers of Palestinian deaths that were released by the terrorist organization themselves. They have a bias that Israel is out for Palestinian blood, becoming completely blind to the fact that it’s only self-defense and Hamas’ numbers can’t be trusted.
“Israel is the type of place where if they sneeze, the whole world gets a cold,” Bright says. “They have to be really cautious. Their rules of engagement are well above and beyond any international law. They are very careful to make sure they limit as much collateral damage as possible.”
He says all of this while explaining the beast that they’re up against. 1400 citizens have just been murdered, another 240 were missing at the start of the war. There are 300 miles of tunnels underneath Gaza that they’ve built with aid money instead of focusing on creating better schools and hospitals.
“Part of Hamas’ military strategy is to put their military targets underneath schools. Their main headquarters is underneath the main hospital in Gaza city,” Bright explains. “They specifically use Palestinians as human shields. In fact, the leader of Hamas recently said that without the Palestinians as those human shields, they never would be able to stand up to Israel.”
Bright explains the media war that Hamas is playing by using these military headquarters extremely strategically without any care of concern for human life. Yet somehow, the greater world has a hard time seeing that for themselves.
“I find it interesting that people try to point out whether [Israel] is following the rules when Hamas is the one making attacks, brutally murdering people and taking hostages…why do people think that’s part of the rules? It’s just so absurd.”
Before the war, Bright was also on a speaking tour. He would go out and share what he learned in order to teach those around the world about the history and how deep the Black and Jewish bond goes.
“Jews were pivotal in the civil rights movement,” Bright explains. “Ten days before Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, he was speaking to a group of rabbis saying the Jewish community are our friends for a common good. A lot of young people don’t know the history. After this, I’m going to try and double my efforts to educate the youth so they can better understand how close our communities are and have always been.”
Bright is planning to stay in Israel as long as he’s needed. Once his service is done, they will shift volunteers as there are 300 more firefighters waiting in the wings to come help. He also shares that the EVP received 700 applications from all over the world of others who want to join the fight. The organization works to bring in physicians as well as all different types of therapists to help those in need. Physical and occupational therapists, for example, will leave their current practices to come volunteer in Israel in emergency rooms, surgery centers and military hospitals to help those injured by rockets and in terror attacks.
“I try to let my Jewish friends know that they’re not alone. I know you may feel isolated but we are here to support you. Don’t pay attention to these rallies. We are here for the Jewish people and are trying to change things with you.”