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Unimaginable and Incomprehensible

As I sit with my phone in hand scrolling through the news, I am in disbelief. How could this happen? Yet, in reality, how could it not? Hamas has never hidden their agenda. They are a terrorist organization intent on destroying the State of Israel and all the Jews. It was never a secret, just read their charter…

Every day as I see the images on TV and on social media, I can’t really wrap my head around the depravity. I knew Hamas was capable of this. I knew it because when any Arabs would enter Israel for medical help due to Syria’s war and they treated with respect and help in Israel, they were surprised by how kind we were to them. They knew that if the roles were reversed, a Jews who happened to end up in their country would be murdered. We don’t have to go that far, as to think a Jew in a separate Arab country would be in danger because Jews are not allowed to go into most Arab villages in the West Bank due to the threats to their lives. There are huge signs saying it is “Asur” or in English “Forbidden” to enter these towns with an Israeli license plate. It’s not a secret…

It’s disgusting that the media still feels the need to put this into perspective with two sides having responsibility for the current situation. What kind of perspective can there be when terrorists come into your home, murder your baby and burn him in his crib? What kind of perspective can there be when you take octogenarians hostage and parade them around as if you are brave and courageous? What kind of perspective can there be when you attack young people at a music festival dedicated to nature and peace, and then you not only massacre them, but you rape the women and parade them around as examples of your heroism? There is no rationale in the civilized world for this type of depravity. There is no excuse for such atrocities. When will the media understand that there is no parallel that would say this is acceptable behavior. They are not protecting their own people; they are bringing the wrath of Israel upon them. These Israeli civilians weren’t hurting anyone. They were sleeping or beginning their day on their Shabbat, on their Simchat Torah. Many on the border consider themselves “peaceniks”. They want to build relationships not murder innocent people. I keep hearing the rationale, “What do you expect from 75 years of occupation?” What do they mean, “75 years of occupation”? They’re talking about the existence of Israel, not occupation. 75 years ago, Egypt was occupying Gaza, and Jordan was occupying the West Bank. Apologists are saying that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist. There is no other side that can be a reason for mutilating bodies, decapitating children, taking toddlers hostage and holding them in cages. There is no other side.

I applaud President Biden for not mincing words. He said it was pure evil and he was right. I’m glad that the charge d’affairs at the American Embassy in Jerusalem went to witness the carnage. Now she can relate with no bias the inhumanity and barbarism of Hamas. The world needs to know. Unfortunately, the age-old hate of antisemitism runs deep. This is proof that anti-Zionism is the same as antisemitism. Wake up, world, and smell reality. When Jews talk about rising antisemitism, we talk about it from experience. We’ve been here before…

One may ask, who am I, to think my words matter? I’m an American Jew, who has dedicated her life to the Jewish People and the State of Israel. I’ve taught at Golda Och Academy, a Solomon Schechter Day School, in West Orange. I’ve been involved in Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America in supporting our hospitals that treat anyone who comes through their doors, Jew, Muslim, Christian, of any race or religion my whole life. I’m active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest and have been dedicated to working with our partner communities in the south, Ofakim, Merchavim, Kibbutz Erez, Arad. If these names sound familiar, it’s because most of them were infiltrated by the terrorists this weekend. I’m on the Board of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, where I lead the Israel committee and work to bring Israel Education and advocacy to our community. I am a mother of a young woman who made Aliyah less than a year ago, and I have been so proud of her decision to make a life in Israel and I have been so scared for what’s happening there.

Perhaps I just need to be heard. I think we all need to be heard and we all need to support our Jewish People and the Land of Israel in whatever way we can. We must be the voice of those who were lost, those who are held hostage, those who are going to war, and those who are home and spending hours in their shelters scared and traumatized. We have to stand up and raise our voices to make sure Israel is allowed to continue to fight against Hamas. We are relatively safe here in NJ, so we need to stand with our People in Israel. Our lives and the lives of Jews around the world will never be the same.

About the Author
Stephanie Z. Bonder is a proud Jew and lifelong Zionist. Stephanie studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for her junior year abroad and is currently pursuing her masters in Jewish Education at the Hebrew University Melton School of Education. In her volunteer hours, she is on the National Board of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America where she currently serves as Chair of the Speakers Bureau and team member of the Education and Advocacy division. Stephanie teaches teens and adults on Jewish Peoplehood, Zionism and current events in Israel through her involvement with the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest and her synagogue, Congregation Agudath Israel. All of her blogs are her own personal opinions and do not represent the organizations with which she is affiliated.