Penny S. Tee
May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام.

Defending My People Defends All People. Will Your People Be Next?

PEACE with Penny

I’m a Jewish American Woman.  I am also a peace activist and have been fighting for peace between Israelis and Palestinians for a decade. The organizations I work with realize neither side is going away; they love the land, and they need to learn how to get along.

However, this does not mean I will look the other way when either side is being abused and I haven’t. This blog is about the disgusting fact that my people need protection. In 2024, the world prohibits attacks and discrimination unless you are Jewish.


I believe in religious freedom and free speech. Lately, however, the First Amendment has been getting more exercise than I got during Hell Week at Orange Theory Fitness. On the surface, the First Amendment seems so pristine until people get ahold of it and bend and twist it into something that I doubt the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution would recognize. Using free speech or religious freedom to spout hate, promote antisemitism, and destroy property crosses many lines and should have been stopped immediately. People seem willing to set aside morals so they can keep their positions of power from the walls of Congress to the libraries and Presidential offices on our campuses.

In my last Times of Israel Blog, “Why Are We “Passing Over” Peace’s Most Valuable Players?” written during Passover, I wrote about the horrific impact of war on women and the improved outcomes when women are involved in Peace negotiations. I also discussed how ineffective the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 has been which was supposed to require parties in a conflict to prevent violations of women’s rights, to support women’s participation in Peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction, and to protect women and girls from wartime sexual violence.

Because the UN cannot enforce but merely recommend, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations admits in their 10-year review without recourse, their resolution is impotent. Sexual and gender-based violence continues to be widespread and committed with impunity.

Resolution 1325 does not provide any recourse for October 7th either. The gang-raping of the Israeli women in the videos where we can see blood dripping on their clothes from their genitals being torn from violent attacks (when they still at least had clothes on in the videos) dragged away as hostages. Too graphic? Expressing these actions as “sexual and gender-based violence” seems too timid for the horror of what’s happened. That is, for those who are willing to admit it happened at all.

Don’t we learn? The subject is different, antisemitism, but will be just as ineffective. I read through the short, Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 (H.R. 6090). It does say folks, antisemitism is wrong. Duh! Obviously, seeing what’s happening on our campuses is kids airing many families’ dirty laundry for everyone to see. Antisemitism is alive and well throughout the world and is rampaging in the United States. However, the kids are being led, joined by, and manipulated by professional, well-financed protesters.

And this new bill, which not all of Congress can bring themselves to support, is the best we can do? We have the US Congress saying antisemitism is wrong, with no action plan to do anything when it is discovered. BFD. As a Jew and a woman, they want me to be impressed with their work? Congress takes self-congratulation and arrogance to a level that is offensive. Can you tell I am angry? Sorry.

The more I research, the more incredulous I become. I saw a Pew report extolling the fact that the 118th Congress had 28% women. Whohoo! Really? It’s the highest percentage in U.S. history and a considerable increase (59%) from where things stood even a decade ago. And, in the United States in 2024, men and women in the population are relatively even, that is only in terms of numbers (49.59%/50.41%), but if you want to get technical there are 2.7 million more women than men and we could only squeeze into our Congress just under 30%?

I know I stepped away from the corporate life for my family, but in the years since, did the women’s liberation movement peter out? How was so little progress made regarding women’s equality in all this time?


Building takeovers, violence, destruction, and First Amendment hate speech is protected? Would this be allowed if these abused Jewish students were students of color? No, and rightly so!


UCLA:  Jewish college students are prevented from accessing the library where class is being held. Protesters give wristbands to non-Jewish students who the protesters allow to access the library. A Jewish student was told he could not enter the library because he was Jewish. Listen to the following recording of his parent who futilely called UCLA’s police department as she was told they weren’t going to do anything about it.


The Jewish population at UCLA in 2023, was 2500 students, or 7.7% of the undergrad population with another 500 Jewish grad students. They are ranked 29th in terms of Jewish population within public schools. That’s a lot of fear to go around.

Now, a few well-chosen ditties selected by the protesters to shout at our Jewish students as they tried to study for finals.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: “Never forget the 7th of October…The 7th of October is about to be every f***ing day for you. You ready?” “We are Hamas”  A rabbi at Columbia told the Jewish students to go home as soon as possible because it was not safe on campus for them. He was worried for their safety. However, why were the perpetrators allowed to stay, and the Jewish students had to go home?

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: “Long Live the Intifada!”

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY & EMERSON COLLEGE: Use of the inverted red triangle signifies support for violent resistance.

Inverted Red Triangle Means Support for Violent Resistance

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: Demonstrators marched through campus chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho; the Zionists have got to go.”,  APRIL 20, 2024. BTW, was this a celebration of Hitler’s birthday, or just a coincidence?

BARNARD COLLEGE: Yola Ashkenazie, 21, senior. I have watched as Jewish students have been assaulted — physically and verbally — by pro-Hamas protesters on and around campus. In fear for my own safety and emotional well-being, I left campus and flew to Tel Aviv to be with family for Passover. It is sad and disappointing, but I feel safer in a war zone than I do at my own university – a place I loved dearly and called home for the past four years.

So, Jewish students are targeted, attacked, and afraid while on campus. At the same colleges, their parents probably have to take out loans on their homes to pay for tuition. Could you study under these conditions, let alone pass your finals? It seems the University Administration thinks it’s fine if you feel like you are risking your life to walk to your class to take the finals.

It’s hard to be a Jew. We believe in one God, and some of us dress a bit differently, but why should that be so offensive? The fact is, who we are isn’t offensive; it’s just that people have fabricated things about us for centuries. Bullies need someone to pick on, and we are always a convenient scapegoat.

We just concluded HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY. May their memories be a blessing. We must listen to the lessons of history.

In the 1930s, when antisemitism spread in Germany, ultimately, the Holocaust killed 6 million Jews.

2023-2024 Hamas, October 7th. At the border, within the kibbutzim lived Peace activists who reached across the border to make friends with their neighbors. Many were murdered and taken hostage.

At the Re’im Music Festival, where many were massacred, “the rave was billed as a celebration of ‘friends, love and infinite freedom.'” Another unconscionable killing frenzy of Jews during a lovefest.

Israel defends itself, would you?

More than 11K Hamas missiles attacked Israel. Emboldened, Iran attacked directly, and Hezbollah joined in too. Iron Dome is always the HERO! If not for Iron Dome blowing up the Hamas missiles in mid-air before they could reach their intended targets, how many dead Israelis would there be?

Hamas uses human shields and intentionally places women and children in harm’s way. Building tunnels below schools, mosques, and hospitals and embedding their terror organizations within hospitals intentionally cannot end well in terms of lives lost.

The horrific grief is played out nightly on our television sets. What their eyes recognize exceeds any parent’s comprehension to look further even if they don’t know these families or theoretically could be considered “enemies.” There is no qualification to justify this pain. And Israeli moms’ grown babies returning in body bags is no less heartbreaking.

As Mother’s Day approaches, my heart breaks for these moms and the hostage moms as well. Let’s hope this agreement with Hamas regarding some of the hostages comes to fruition. The unanswered question of whether their child is dead or alive or will ever come home is excruciatingly cruel. Once we are parents, protecting our children as a species kicks in. We watch the scenes if we can bear it, horrific videos of the destruction of lives and souls. I am very aware that I have the privilege of just reading about their pain, not living it. I hope there is something that brings them comfort, though I doubt that is possible.

We must keep in mind that HAMAS is responsible for the deaths of their own people, yet Israel is blamed. Hamas intentionally has placed their people in harm’s way. Israel wants to avoid losing soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, yet the world, and now the U.S., is challenging the use of bombs to blow up the tunnels. This is a dangerous dosey doe.

Millions of people have been told to repeatedly move and now it seems there is no place left to go. How can Israel move into Rafah without excess numbers of casualties? Yet Israel’s goal is to get rid of Hamas to stop these endless decades of terrorist attacks.

And demands made on Israel are not made on any other country; why? I don’t believe the answer is simple. For being a country the size of New Jersey, they make the news an inordinate amount of time.

It unfortunately doesn’t seem unusual, but Netanyahu is the wrong leader, and Israel’s citizens continually protest his leadership. His decisions paved the way for many innocent deaths and created a path for antisemites to make Israel a pariah in the world. I hope U.S. citizens take heed. Choosing the wrong President can have unpredictable consequences.

Speak up for your fellow humans on both sides. These are not numbers but human casualties. Where are our brothers, sisters, and friends? It’s not just Germany this time; the world seems rife with antisemites, who probably always were there, but now they feel they have the acceptance worldwide to publicly speak their prejudice.

What will the next chapter be in the Jewish lexicon? Stop this anti-Semitic boulder from rolling further down the mountain. Silence is complicit. There is no room for I should have this time.

May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام  Amen.

NOTE: In the video above, you’ll see and hear members of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus with Sam Tsui, singing Home. Their website states: “The Jerusalem Youth Chorus is a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli youth in Jerusalem.”  “The Jerusalem Youth Chorus About.” Jerusalem Youth Chorus.

About the Author
Penny S. Tee is a vodcaster, speaker, author, and educator. She interviews Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, together forging a better future. Why? Read her book, “BLASTED from COMPLACENCY: A Journey from Terror to Transformation in Israel,” which describes her 2014 family vacation in Israel—daily touring sacred places, and cowering in bomb shelters at night. The missiles blew up her comfortable world—today she devotes her life to Peace.
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