Leel David Sinai
Jewish Diplomacy for Jewish Justice

Dazed and Confused: A Call for Clear-Eyed Vision

Earlier this month, pro-Hamas protestors disrupted operations at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Prime Minister Trudeau called the protests “reprehensible,” and an investigation is underway. A similar protest took place in January at Memorial Sloan Kettering, a cancer hospital, in New York City. Both hospitals shared something in common, which attracted the attention of such vocal pro-terrorists: their ties to the Jewish community and Israel. The Jewish community, aghast at the depravity, are left confused and asking how one could draw a connection between the hospitals’ Jewish touch points and the war between Israel and Hamas. Therein lies our failure in standing up to anti-Jewish racism.

As a first generation Israeli-American growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I saw first-hand how the seeds of hatred are easily sowed. Having been on the receiving end of antisemitic slurs, physical violence, and intimidation, I learned early on that Jew-hatred is ubiquitous and is expressed in many forms. It is not exclusive to politics, race, or creed, and it is the oldest hatred in existence. My Israeli parents instilled in me as a child not to ask why there is such racism against Jews, but instead to swiftly stand up to and act against it.

The outward expression of anti-Jewish racism exploded after the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. While most in the mainstream of American society offered their condolences and support in response to the attacks, a fringe of American talking heads and their followers rejoiced in glee, stating that the attacks were in fact a form of resistance against Israeli oppression. Many Americans, especially Jews, asked themselves how anyone could see footage of the Hamas massacres, brutal beatings, kidnappings of entire families, which Hamas enthusiastically recorded and disseminated, and be so inhumane in their response. Following the horrific attack, Israel, naturally, retaliated against Hamas and its enablers, as it sought to destroy the terrorist group and bring home all the innocent civilians held in captivity in Gaza. In response, that fringe, which has proven itself to be a very loud fringe with many supporters, has taken to the streets in violent and obstructionist protest, verbally and physically harassing American Jews in public and on college campuses, and defacing Jewish sites and memorials. Including ripping down posters of children who were stolen from their beds and dragged to Gaza on the bloody morning of October 7.

Suddenly and consistent with past practice, mainstream American Jews are again bearing responsibility for Israel’s just response to Hamas atrocities. Take, for example, the Cornell students who feared for their safety at the hands of pro-Hamas protestors and barricaded themselves in the University library, or the hate crime incidents of violence at Los Angeles Jewish-owned restaurants. One is at the whim of the mob when Jewishness, which necessarily includes Zionism, becomes apparent.

Demonstrators take part in a protest organized by Within Our Lifetime, which endorses the Hamas-led Oct. 7 massacres in southern Israel, outside the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, January 15, 2024. (Screenshot: X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

As we find ourselves continuously surprised by the hypocrisy, denialism, and often explicit support of a terrorist organization that seeks genocide against the Jewish people, one must wonder, why are we so shocked? What we are witnessing is an outright war against the Jewish people and Israel, the nation state of the Jewish indigenous homeland. When viewed through the zero-sum lens of our detractors, the picture becomes much clearer. This is an us against them battle, wherein they want us to be simply erased, often metaphorically, and sometimes literally. To them, Israel and world Jewry are the source of the world’s ills and the aggressor, or are simply a punching bag on which they take out their own identity issues. They are clear-eyed in their disdain for Jews, and they will rationalize anything to fit into that box of hate so long as it fulfills their purpose. A universalist, humanitarian approach to this battle is therefore like bringing a knife to a gunfight, and appeals to one’s conscience is a dead end.

When we move beyond confusion and accept that we are facing a primitive and animalistic hate, our actions will follow suit. We will stop apologizing for our perceived privilege. We will stop wasting our time explaining hypocrisy. We will stop being gaslit by those who cheer for our death. Our objectives are clear: destroy Hamas, bring home the hostages, and, lest we forget, live proudly as Jews. While we focus our efforts on thriving, let those who scream for ceasefire while whispering of our demise be left to morally rot in their own hate.

About the Author
Leel Sinai is an attorney in New York City. He is a leader within the American Jewish Committee and engages in “Jewish Diplomacy” with diplomats, politicians, and community leaders to advocate for democracy and human rights, the safety and security of the Jewish people, and Israel’s rightful place in the world. As a citizen of both the United States and Israel, he is passionate about international affairs and facilitating dialogue between American Jews, Israeli Jews, and non-Jews globally. Leel holds a joint J.D.-M.B.A. from Hofstra University, a Master of Arts degree in Middle East Studies from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York – Buffalo.
Related Topics
Related Posts