The world has witnessed an astonishing display of inhumanity– acts of barbarism that before waking up on Saturday, October 7 2023, seemed unimaginable. But instead of blue squares or supportive hashtags on people’s social media feeds, or notes of sympathy being left at the doors of our Synagogues, we get chants of “gas the Jews” and other vile celebrations of terrorism–both online and in the streets as well as elevated risk (and the subsequent need for beefed up security) at Jewish institutions. This one-two punch in the face of every Jew on planet earth has been both sickening and doubly traumatizing, but also clarifying.
Some of us have been sounding the alarm for years but for many Jews, this week has been a staggeringly rude awakening. Despite the litany of examples of blatant anti-semitism throughout history and in the last decade alone, it’s still been downright chilling to witness the lack of universal condemnation of what can only be described as pure evil. However, while we might’ve been shocked, Hamas read the room correctly.
Even the Nazis tried to hide their war crimes in fear of reprisal or intervention. It wasn’t until the camps were liberated that we began to understand the true extent of the atrocities that had been committed. But these terrorist monsters filmed and uploaded the graphic images of a massacre, not just on social media but on their victims’ own personal FaceBook feeds and did so, rightfully devoid of any fear. They bet on the fact that the world would not care, that there would be no widespread outrage, and they were right to do so.
The sad truth is, Jewish blood is cheap. It doesn’t matter what you believe, the way you live your life or how sympathetic you are to the plight of Gazans. Hamas targeted peace-loving, left-leaning, Palestinian-sympathizing, defenseless young people at a music festival and ravaged uber-progressive kibbutzniks and their children in their homes. They didn’t brutalize, rape and murder them because of their political stance–they did it for one reason and one reason only, because they were Jews. And it is because they were Jews that people are rallying in the streets in support of their murderers.
So today, I am in mourning–not just for the devastating loss of life but for the fact that we live in a world where images of toddlers in cages, beheaded babies, women being dragged by their hair as they bleed from their genitals and entire families being burned alive aren’t enough to elicit empathy for us Jews. A world full of people defending this brutality, academic institutions cheering on terrorists and celebrities with massive followings, who never miss an opportunity to stand on their soap boxes, remaining eerily silent.
A Jewish friend said to me the other day, “it’s like they don’t want us to exist” and I almost had to laugh. If the Inquisition, countless pogroms and the Holocaust didn’t make it clear enough — this might’ve just done it. From this point forward, we must be vocal, visible and vigilant in looking out for one another because, as has been made crystal clear, we cannot count on anyone else to do that for us.
So, if there is a single silver lining to be gleaned in the wake of this carnage, perhaps it will be that we Jews finally open our eyes to the way that the world actually sees us. Only then can we begin to process our pain and truly have a shot at repairing this broken world. The final stage of grief is acceptance, after all.