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

Jews — Betrayed by the World, and Closer at Home?

PEACE with Penny vodcast of interviews of Israeli and Palestinian Peace organizations hosted by Penny S. Tee

Memorial Day is a day to remember the brave soldiers who have defended our country. May their memories be a blessing. Unfortunately, war is used as an option, and at times, while I wish I could wave a magic wand and the alternative would be taken off the table, that won’t happen anytime soon. Humans, regrettably, haven’t evolved into using a gentler path. Once that door is opened, well, the scenarios that follow are horrific and predictable, forming a tragic loop of pain and suffering until someone is forced to cry, uncle.

I am a Peace activist, and I’ve missed having my interviews on PEACE with Penny. Meeting with wonderful Israelis and Palestinians who work together on Peace is a joy and a privilege. I’m hoping to get back to the interviews soon. I still have one in the hopper that I haven’t yet edited. It’s a much happier message that provides hope, and people need to know that so many organizations work on Peace, even today, as a war ensues.

Over the last few months, writing for the Times of Israel Blogs, finishing the Peace Haggadah, co-hosting the Peace Seder, and editing the recording, let’s just say I’ve never figured out how to be in more than one place at a time.

Given the astronomical levels of antisemitism, I felt I had to stand up for our Jewish community. I’ve gotten some negative comments because my writing lately primarily refers to my tribe. Some people do not understand that because someone talks about one subject, they can have many opinions and topics to write about and sometimes choose to address one subject at a time.

I suppose, in part, I’ve made my own bed. I usually speak about Peace and both sides, Israelis and Palestinians. One side or the other gets upset if I talk about only one side and feel I’m being unfair.  Islamophobia is also on the rise and unconscionable.

Strangely, it seems even during the Israel-Hamas War, I’m able to find more compassion and ability to speak about difficult subjects with Israelis and Palestinians during a war than I see with some Americans. From our college campuses to our politics, people are behaving abysmally. Granted, the Peace activists I speak with have already done the soul-searching to realize neither side is going away, and they must learn to work together to make the future better.

Rodney King comes to mind, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?”

That’s why I’m showing as my video above, a message that really hit home. It’s from Nuseir Yassin, a Palestinian Peace activist, who although we have very different backgrounds, we seem to have the same heart. A decade ago, after running to bomb shelters in Israel during the 2014 Gaza War, I still don’t know what made me feel that working on Peace was what I must do, but I did. I have worked on Peace incessantly ever since. It seems inexplicable given my life then, how it changed, and after ten years it still feels right. Nuseir chalks it up to Dharma. I’ve tried to explain the strange, life-changing impact of my experience at length, and he encapsulates it in one word. He is the king of succinct, one way that our roads diverge. But it does seem to fit.

These interactions are always complicated, and understanding is impossible at a glance. We’ve been here before, but this time, Israel and the Jewish people are strong. No matter the antisemitic labels. Israel is attacked with claims of GENOCIDE, yet they do what they feel is right. Netanyahu and the Israeli government are not the same as the Israeli people, hence the demonstrations in Israel wanting to remove him from office. Diaspora Jews are not the Israeli government. Yet, Jews everywhere are attacked.

This is no longer a battle, only thousands of miles away. We find that former long-time friends are not friends. Will the next chapter be Beyond Hurt Feelings and Words? Was the UCI takeover of the Science building the beginning or the end?

Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, and a United Nations expert, published a report saying “there were reasonable grounds to believe Israel has committed genocide in Gaza during its military campaign against Hamas.” It doesn’t sound as direct as an accusation of genocide should be. Was it, or wasn’t it?

President Biden clearly says that Israel’s self-defense has not resulted in genocide. 

And the International Criminal Court equates Israel’s actions with Hamas! Additional accusations have been made of genocide against Israel. Military experts disagree. Are indiscriminate choices of adjectives to describe Israel’s actions more examples of antisemitism? The numbers of casualties are disputed, but nevertheless, they are tragic. Where do the experts draw the line? Not all experts concur.

Israel gives up the element of surprise and announces their intentions via dropping leaflets, texting, and calling Palestinians prior to military actions going out of their way not to hurt civilians. They have for years, and Israel has been recognized for the extent they go to to avoid hurting civilians.

Other countries at war don’t give away their possibility of surprise because it is an important advantage. Many other countries are not accused of genocide, though their numbers of innocents killed are in the hundreds of thousands, thus far more than by Israel. Are the numbers of civilians killed unacceptable? Personally, I think so, but I also don’t believe violence leads to the best solutions. Any loss of innocent life is a tragedy. Because these aren’t numbers—they are humans!

So many victims have been children. It’s sad and predictable, given Gaza’s population is approximately 50% children. But given Hamas uses human shields, what could be done differently to prevent loss of life and still eliminate Hamas? Is it even possible?

Who wouldn’t be outraged? Hysterical parents carrying their dead babies nightly on our televisions. May their memories be a blessing is lacking when confronted with these horrific circumstances. Shortened lives, robbed of a future, yet who is responsible?

Hamas uses their people as human shields and intentionally built tunnels beneath mosques, schools, and hospitals, and they hide in them amongst civilians. Their goal? Hide themselves and the hostages and consciously cause civilian casualties. If civilians try to flee, Hamas shoots their own people. Still, many have left, heeding Israel’s instructions. The IDF reports thankfully, that 900,000 have left Rafah.

To destroy the tunnels requires huge bombs to stop the Hamas/Palestinian missiles against Israel, where terrorists hide, shoot, and store missiles, ammo, and weapons.

But the world’s reaction was predictable. Netanyahu is an arrogant right-fighter. Now, the world’s antisemites have easily shoved the brutal cloak of GENOCIDE over Israel. Israel’s goal is to eliminate Hamas, a terrorist organization, NOT THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. As always, it’s complicated. The Hamas terrorist organization is a subset of the Palestinian people. It’s too easy to communicate partial truths with intentionally skewed misinformation.

We know over the years definitions of words change. Bad, and sick is now good. What words mean matters. How else do we understand one another? In the IP Conflict, words have been assaulted with new meanings…


Jewish Definition: Supporter of our Jewish Homeland

Palestinian Definition: Land Stealer, Apartheid, Colonizer, Occupier, The Lowest Affront:


Israel, castigated as the world’s pariah, is as hurtful as a Jew, as if the head of our family were accused of intentionally murdering thousands of people. It’s hard to fathom. Israel, our Jewish homeland, at least in my mind, should reflect the morals taught in Judaism that we’ve learned as a people since childhood. Perhaps an unfair assumption, but true. Now, to have to question whether their actions were as they have been portrayed adds emotional pain to assumptions that previously I didn’t know I had.

And Hamas, since its formation, has pledged the genocide of the Jewish people and Israel in their charter.  Hamas sent missiles into Tel Aviv from Rafah. Iron Dome is the HERO, a miracle worker, blowing up the missiles in-air before they land on their intended targets. If not, how many Israelis would have died from the thousands of Palestinian missiles shot into Israel throughout the years of their existence? Hamas has threatened they will repeatedly strike with October 7th tactics over and over until Israel is destroyed.

Israel retaliated with smaller bombs fired at a Hamas encampment, killing 50 or possibly more people, in the Rafah camp where Israel told displaced Palestinians originally to go for safety. Hostages also are being held in Rafah by Hamas. There is nothing pretty about war. Now, with what Netanyahu claims is a “tragic mistake, “I don’t think the world will be very forgiving as they see the videos claiming the lives of more innocents.

And the hostages remain held, some dead, some alive, some I’m sure wish they were dead. Their families beg for them not to be forgotten. Let’s hope they are home before Father’s Day. I can’t imagine what Mother’s Day was like without their child no matter what age. On October 7th, Israel was monstrously attacked by Hamas. Israelis are defending their country.

Current status:

The International Community calls for a cessation of the Israel-Hamas War, regardless that Israel’s stated goals have not been achieved. South Africa, in the International Court of Justice, accused Israel of Genocide. 

 The International Criminal Court Charged:

  • Hamas leader Yahya Sinawar is accused of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” starting with the attacks of Oct. 7, including murder, hostage-taking, and torture.
  • Netanyahu directly for using “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.”

Norway, Spain, and Ireland moved to recognize Palestine, adding to the other 140 countries that already have. I understand why Israel feels like Hamas is being rewarded for the October 7th massacre.

The International Court of Justice held hearings regarding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and West Jerusalem.

Antisemitism existed long before Israel’s Independence, and Hamas’ actions went far beyond Resistance and Military actions. October 7th atrocities were EVIL.

May 5-6, 2024, Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) was observed. The outcome of antisemitism was a shocking, heinous chapter in Jewish peril. Will there be more horrific chapters to be written in our Jewish lexicon?

Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day) May 13-14, 2024, Jews celebrate that they are finally home and safe—not quite. But from the Palestinian perspective—The Naqba (The Catastrophe), these are two sides of the same coin. One side was created to alleviate pain, and the other ignited a firestorm of pain lasting decades. It’s a tragic reality.

Will the Israel-Hamas War be the crescendo? Probably not, there always is more horror to go around.

As I said previously, I miss my interviews with the Peace organizations. I need to get the interview edited and published so I can put a smile on my face and yours. I’m excited at the thought of speaking with more Peacemakers.

Why have I been writing on these subjects lately? I had to help defend my people. In the 30s not enough people did, and look what happened. As much as I’d like to pretend this isn’t happening again, it is, and antisemitism is blatantly espoused out in the open.

Today, there also aren’t enough “friends” standing up for us. If you have Jewish friends, give them a call. I’m sure they are feeling sad and lonely. Not speaking up is complicity, and your silence is deafening and dangerous.

May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام

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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