On October 7, the world changed for the Jewish people. I have seen each one of my Jewish friends in pain, and the pain is not going away. They have experienced the worst attack against them since the Holocaust, and what makes it even more painful is that the support they received from the world has not been much better than the support they received during the Holocaust.
Seeing this immense pain, every day since October 7, I have wanted to say to my Jewish friends that they are not alone. Yet, I cannot get myself to say it because it would be a largely hollow statement.
The Jews have a few true friends at this difficult time, but those friends are far outnumbered by those who condemn them, demonize them, or use words of support only to turn around and make demands that cannot be met without letting the murderers off the hook and free to attack again and again in the future.
But despite the way that Jews are being demonized and mistreated, they are fighting a necessary war in the most ethical way possible. Nobody else would have done it so ethically, and yet the world does not recognize it. Israel could have eliminated Hamas much faster if it didn’t care to protect civilians. That is well known but rarely recognized outside Israel.
Israel’s enemies hold a weapon that is impossible to destroy, the use of Palestinian civilians and Israeli hostages as human shields. It is a weapon that Israel would never use, yet its widespread use by Palestinian terrorists is seen by the world as a reason to demonize Israel, not as a reason to hold the terrorists to account. The world laments the death and displacement of Palestinian civilians, almost never recognizing that these occur only because the terrorists shamelessly and overtly use them as human shields.
The only acceptable outcome for this war is the destruction of Hamas and the transfer of Gaza security into Israeli hands. We know from the past that any other outcome would bring Gaza back to the same situation that led to October 7. But while the hostages suffer and are mistreated in Hamas’ tunnels, there is no clear end in sight. Even the Israeli government talks about many more months of war, and there is acute awareness that the remaining hostages may never be released alive.
As if to add salt to the wound, even Israel’s closest friend, the United States, is speaking at the worst possible time of giving the Palestinians a state. Such talk is extremely naïve and pointless since the Palestinians have never wanted a state unless it involved the destruction of Israel, and yet such talk is a reward to terrorists since it is seen as criticism of Israel.
This war, which followed a massacre that competes with the Holocaust in viciousness, has brought back to the surface all the antisemitism from the time of the Holocaust, all the double standards, all the blood libels, and all the lies.
And yet despite all this, the Jews are not helpless. They were helpless during the Holocaust, but they are not helpless now. They have a formidable army, and they refuse to be victims. Hamas’ manipulations have not succeeded nearly as well as they hoped. The United States has provided critical support both militarily and diplomatically. Even the Arab world, in its own hypocritical way, quietly supports the war against Hamas.
This war is difficult, heartbreaking, and complex, but it is not hopeless. Israel and the Jews will see better days. And they will remember those who stood with them because it really matters right now.
A phrase that I heard soon after October 7 and several times after that is this: “If you’ve ever wondered what you would have done in 1930’s Germany, you’re doing it now”. This is a slight variation on something that was said in August 2017 by Matthew Miller, a high-profile American public servant. No phrase better represents the current challenge faced by those who claim to be opposed to antisemitism.
If you are not Jewish and you consider yourself fair towards the Jewish people, now is the time to show it. If you think that you would have spoken up against the Holocaust when it was being perpetrated by the Nazis, then speak up against Hamas and support Israel’s effort to stop them. You cannot take away the pain that Jews feel about October 7, but you can support Israel in ensuring that there are no more such horrors in the future. Now is not the time to be silent.