Jeff Seidel

Social Justice For All…Except for Us

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel rally in London on October 21, 2023 to demand a ceasefire. (Henry Nicholls/AFP)

Over the last month, Jews around the world faced a stark reality check. Antisemitism, a longstanding issue exemplified by events like the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting, BDS, and harmful rhetoric on campuses, took a more alarming turn with the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on that dreadful day of October 7th.

Historically, Jews have championed minority causes, standing prominently in movements like the Civil Rights Movement, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and pro-LGBTQ efforts. Perhaps because of our generational trauma and our all-too familiar sense of persecution, we have an innate desire to stand up for minority voices.

But now, it’s shocking and disheartening to witness that our longstanding allies remained silent when we faced the most catastrophic attack since the Holocaust. Feminist groups did not condemn the abuse suffered by Israeli women. Black Lives Matter shared a “Free Palestine” graphic featuring a Hamas paraglider, the same one responsible for the tragic events at the Nova music festival. LGBTQ groups, marching with their “Queers for Palestine” signs, seem unaware that Israel is the sole Middle Eastern country where they would be allowed to freely express themselves. We stood up for all these groups during their times of need, where are they during ours?

The silence is not only deafening but their agenda is wildly unequal. Anti-Israel protestors claim a ‘human rights’ cause while excluding Jews. If they truly had genuine concern for human rights, the October 7th attack, where 1,400 innocent civilians were murdered and 240 individuals taken hostage, would provoke outrage. If human rights was really their cause, we would not be seeing the posters of the kidnapped children and women ripped from the streets.

Moreover, the selectivity of these ‘social justice warriors’ is evident. Where were they when more than 4,000 Palestinians were slaughtered and 850,000 were displaced during the Syrian civil war? Or when 2,500 Palestinian refugees were killed and 30,000 were displaced in Lebanon? How about when Hamas stores rockets in Palestinian schools and hospitals, using innocent civilians as human shields? Or when Hamas steals humanitarian aid for their own militant uses? If they are only “pro-Palestinian” when Israel is involved, they are not really “pro-Palestinian”.

Additionally, we’ve painfully watched with fear and confusion as the chants at protests incite violence, with echoes of “death to the Jews,” “from the river to the sea,” and “globalize the Intifada,” calling for Jewish genocide. Recent violent incidents, like the murder of Paul Kessler, an elderly Jewish man in Los Angeles, further underscore the true intentions of pro-Palestine rallies.

The motives of the “Free Palestine” movement have become extremely apparent and should be incredibly alarming. It’s clear that it’s not about humanity; it’s not about a response to the Israeli ground invasion or a desire for a ceasefire to protect both sides of the conflict. Ceasefires, as history has shown, provide Hamas the opportunity to regroup and plan more attacks. Perhaps that’s what they really support. Whatever their motives are, it’s clear that their activism does not include Jews.

Despite this harsh reality, there are those genuinely seeking peace, envisioning Israelis and Palestinians coexisting harmoniously. But first, the people of Israel must heal from the trauma we’ve experienced. Such atrocities that we witnessed and the pain we’ve felt take time to recover from. But, knowing the strength and resilience of our people, we will rise from the ashes and the desire for peace with our neighbors will be restored. More urgently, productive dialogue and true progress towards this goal requires the Palestinian people, and specifically their leaders, to recognize Israel’s right to exist. They must renounce their charters that call for the destruction of the Jewish state. Then, and only then, will we be able to have genuine discussions about peace.

About the Author
Since 1982, Jeff Seidel has introduced thousands of Jewish college students to their first Shabbat experience as well as offered free tours and classes through his Jewish Student Centers at Hebrew U in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, and IDC in Herzliya. He has lived in Jerusalem’s Old City for over thirty years and connected tens of thousands to the Land of Israel. He has also authored “The Jewish Traveler's Resource Guide,” which lists Shabbat placement programs around the world.
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