Suddenly, I see the news, and it feels like I’m immersed in a science fiction movie. Eylon Levy, the spokesperson for the Israeli government, appeared on his X (formerly Twitter) account to deliver a message that seemed unreal. He urgently issued a travel warning to all Israeli citizens for any destination worldwide. And in the case of travel, he recommended avoiding displaying any Israeli or Jewish identity.
“An ancient dragon, which seemed to have slept for years, has resurged with strength, offering a sense of comfort and security to those who openly share their hatred for the Jewish people.” I wrote this after the diabolical attacks by the terrorist group Hamas against the civilian population in Israel on October 7th.
I thought the world had reached the peak of public hatred towards Jews and Israel in the 21st century. How naive I was! As the days go by, the crowds of people supporting and engaging in hostile acts towards Jews, disguised under other causes, multiply everywhere. In this war, they found the perfect excuse to express what they truly think about our country and our people, as if the conflict exempted them from social norms and the achievements made as a society over time.
Sometimes, when I doubt if I am interpreting the response of many people to this horrendous conflict correctly, I visit their profiles on social media in the hope that they are at least interested in the Palestinian cause. However, I find nothing. Not a single mention of what the population is suffering at the hands of Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules in Gaza, nor about their authoritarian regime in complete contradiction to Western values, nor freedom of expression, freedom of the press, I won’t even mention women’s rights or LGBT+ rights. And then, I conclude that Palestinians do not interest them or interest them very little. What really interests them, their main focus is public criticism of Israel and the Jews – many of them don’t even understand the difference.
Before October 7th, I would still think twice, but today, I wouldn’t be surprised if human rights defenders began to justify and support the enslavement of Jews. Even to encounter feminist movements applying the unjustifiable “yes, she was raped, but she asked for it” or labeling the abduction of a 9-month-old baby in Israel and his transfer to Gaza as “a just fight.”
I am the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. My zeide, Joseph, may he rest in peace, passed away a few years ago. He didn’t talk much about his life during the war, but I wonder if the feeling he experienced in the early ’30s, before hell broke loose on Earth, resembles what many of us feel these days. To know, see, and feel such deep hatred directed at you and your people simply for being Jewish, with open calls for your death and extermination.
I miss my zeide a lot, although I am grateful he’s not here to experience this and answer my question.
The smokescreen created by the war between Israel and Hamas has exposed the speed at which comments on Facebook or Instagram, which used to be criticisms of Netanyahu or Israel, have transformed into chants for the death of Jews and even acts of vandalism against Jewish properties, as if we were recreating the grim puzzle of Kristallnacht. And as if that weren’t enough, several Jews in different parts of the world have been injured or slaughtered for no other sin than being Jewish.
For the first time in my life, I asked my wife to take off the necklace she loves the most before going to her office in California, a golden chain with her name in Hebrew. And although I try to stay strong at home and appear optimistic, the reality is that when I left the room, I cried. I cried like I did as a child after watching a monster movie and getting scared in the dark.
It seems like they’re leaving Jews all over the world alone in the dark again, facing the ideas of evil. The only difference is that this time we have the country of light, Israel. And even if they try to isolate us and plunge us into darkness, they won’t be able to extinguish our hope.
Many years ago, I stopped believing in the monsters from those movies, the ones that terrified me as a child. I wish the monsters that arrived in Israel on October 7th had been those instead of the ones that came from Hamas.