These past weeks have been a nonstop reel of anguish, horror, devastation, sorrow, and anger. All on repeat. For those of us with direct connections to Israel–family, friends, colleagues, etc. who live and work there–all of these emotions have been felt in even sharper relief.
October 7, 2023 is now forever a blood-soaked stain on our calendars. I was thinking only yesterday that Simchat Torah was my father’s favorite holiday. One day soon, I will go to the cemetery and tell him what happened on that day. That the joy of the holiday was turned to something he would, as Holocaust survivor, recognize, but never imagine possible in his children’s and grandchildren’s lifetimes, not to mention in the lifetimes of the dwindling population of survivors themselves.
I tried to avoid the grimmest details of the slaughter of the 7th, but some slipped through, when I saw other people’s posts, or read a mention of something in a longer article. I didn’t try to avoid the details because I was afraid of them, but because I knew them already, from my childhood. My eldest son is named for a 2-year-old boy, Shepshele, who along with his 4-year old brother Hershele, their parents, and grandmother, were shot and burned to death. In 1943. I know about the killing of pregnant women, and ripping out their fetuses, about raping women next to the dead bodies of their friends. And about the perpetrators filming it all. Because in the world of inhumanity toward Jews, everything old is new again. Hamas and Hitler. Both with agendas to make the land judenrein, rid of Jews. And both planning to do it on a global scale. This is not now and was not then, about national borders. It was and is about pathological, incurable, and perhaps even permanently insurmountable hatred. Of Jews.
The Nazis had their Final Solution. Hamas has its Charter. As we have been reminded over and over again, when someone tells you who they are, believe them. Don’t trivialize or excuse away homicidal hatred because your imagination cannot absorb it. You are not meant to absorb it. You are meant to be dead. That is all.
Which brings me to one political aside. If there is a Hell somewhere, I hope the fires are being heated up for both Hamas, and for Bibi. The unholy alliance between a megalomaniac, self-serving autocrat, and a virulently Jew-hating terror group is beyond devastating. And it’s not about miscalculation. Bibi sold out Israel for his own hold on power. Hamas sells out Palestinians for the same reason.
Bibi cynically exploited divisions in Israel for his own gain, and Hamas exploited it all for savage ends. Either way, more than 1,300 Israelis were slaughtered in the most gruesome manner, with hundreds more missing and taken hostage. It is a catastrophe beyond words. But words are all I have. And I will save the remaining ones for those cheering on Hamas.
Were it not documented, it might read as fiction to think that while it was happening, and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of innocents in Israel, there were those not only celebrating the slaughter, but publicly blaming Israel for it. We all know by now about the righteous Harvard students, wrapped in their tourist kaffiyehs, blaming Israel, and only Israel, for the slaughter of Israeli men, women, children, babies, elderly, and whole families. Because, you know, privileged kids in Harvard Yard have ultimate moral standing, and a clearer capacity for reasoning than the rest of us. Ditto loudly self-righteous students at Columbia, Berkeley, etc. etc. Because no one understands suffering and trauma like the most privileged, coddled, close-minded students of color and others, champions of human rights and freedom, all while refusing not only to own the gruesome inhumanity of their accusations, and of cheerleading for bloodthirsty terrorists, but failing to have even a modicum of empathy for the murdered. To these obnoxious little shits (sorry, that’s just what they are), dead babies are worthy targets, as long as they are Jewish babies.
Never mind the idiocy and hypocrisy of these students. It is their enablers that are even worse. When the so-called adults in the room cannot manage to call out the hideous inhumanity of their students, faculty, and administrators, hope really is lost. If these are our future leaders, I’m rooting for climate change to win. It may be that God promised with the dove and the rainbow never to destroy the earth again, but maybe God failed to account for the soul-rotting cruelty that lives within the corroded hearts and stone souls of the very people in this world who are deputized by virtue of their privilege to lead us to better, higher ground.
But we Jews are a stubborn people. We may get pushed out of all kinds of places and spaces, but I have never seen anything more amazing in my adult life than the pulling together of Israelis and other Jews to give all we’ve got to a grieving nation, to extend our hands, our hearts, our talents, our time–whatever is needed–for people the world might shun and worse. The months and years ahead will surely be difficult, and the trauma in my DNA has now been passed to a new generation. That is a heartbreaking reality. But until the timeclock for humanity officially hits midnight, we will keep trying for one another. The rest of you can dwell in hatred and cruelty. I cannot make you answer for that. Perhaps no one can. But I have never been more grateful or proud to be who I am than right now, in this darkest of moments. Because I know that I and people all over the world like me, are the light this world needs. Even if it is too blind to see.