Nina Gilbert

Where is the outcry? Why is it so hard to condemn hatred of Jews?

(WARNING: This article contains graphic descriptions of atrocities)
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12, 2023: Teared down posters with images of Israeli hostages kidnapped after the attack of Hamas on October 7

Photo 301434414 © Zhukovsky |
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12, 2023: Teared down posters with images of Israeli hostages kidnapped after the attack of Hamas on October 7 Photo 301434414 © Zhukovsky |

After October 7, I realized that in the minds of some, Jews really don’t count. 

After October 7, I now wonder who among me on my college campus, in my city, and in my country I can trust to stand for me if I were raped, tortured, and killed for being a Jew. Who around me would legitimize my attack? My sense of security and dignity as an American Jew has collapsed beneath my feet. 

On October 7, Israel’s “Black Sabbath,” a genocidal pogrom by Hamas, resulted in the slaughter of over 1,200 civilians, making it the largest mass killing of Jews since the Holocaust. 

Precipitating the war, 250 civilians, nine of whom are American citizens, ages ranging from then-9-month-old Kfir Bibas to an 85-year-old Holocaust Survivor, Yaffa Adar, were kidnapped by terrorists from their kibbutzim in southern Israel. 

The first thing I saw online on the morning of October 7 was footage of three Israeli girls my age and younger: Naama Levy, 19, Shani Louk, 22, and Noa Argamani, 25.

During the early hours of October 7 in the Western Negev desert, Louk and 40 other festival attendees, most of them young adults, celebrating the final day of Sukkot and the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah at the Supernova (Tribe of Nova) festival were taken hostage by Hamas. By 7 am, armed terrorists surrounded the grounds by land, air, and sea and indiscriminately killed 360 festival attendees. Those able to seek refuge crouched in bomb shelters and orchards were murdered upon discovery.

Hamas kidnapped Louk into Gaza, where she was last seen in footage that captured her lifeless naked body in the bed of a truck paraded down the streets spat on by Gazans. Later, Israeli officials discovered her decapitated head and confirmed her identity by DNA testing.

Argamani, like Louk, was kidnapped from the Tribe of Nova festival. Before being kidnapped into Gaza, Argamani appeared terrified in one of the first Hamas-released videos from the massacre, yelling, “Don’t kill me!” before being taken away by a terrorist on a motorcycle.

Levy, who worked for the “Hands for Peace” delegation, which brings together young Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel. Levy was last seen alive in footage where she appeared handcuffed with blood rushing from her head and private parts while being dragged by her hair into a truck by a terrorist. 

These videos, and too many more, remain vivid in my mind over the last 160 days.

On October 7, the only thing differentiating me from my sisters and brothers in Israel was that I was in America. The closest I got to October 7 was through my phone. But it doesn’t feel that way. As a Jewish woman and a human being, I know I could have been Shani Louk, Naama Levy, Noa Argamani, or any of the 1,200 killed and 247 taken hostage. It could have been my sister, mother, father, Bubbie, Papa, cousin, or friend. 

“There was a decapitated 10-year-old; a man executed after his wrists were tied with electrical wire; bodies booby-trapped with grenades that prompted frantic evacuations of the morgue,” Doron Avigdori, a director of identification and forensic science for the Israeli police, told the Washington Post.

DNA extraction, let alone investigating what was done to victims before their last breaths, was made impossible by how badly burned some bodies were.

“I’ve never seen this many bodies essentially cremated in a single event,” Tal Simmons, a forensic anthropologist from Virginia Commonwealth University who has experienced war zones around the world, told the Washington Post. 

“Our team commander saw several female soldiers who were shot in their crotch, intimate parts, vagina, or shot in the breast. There seems to be systematic genital mutilation of a group of victims,” Shari Mendes, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservist, told CNN.

“I saw in front of my eyes a woman, laying (down). She was naked, and she had nails-she had nails and different objects in her female organs. Her body was brutalized in a way that we could not identify her,” Simchat Greyman, a volunteer emergency responder of ZAKA, an orthodox Jewish search and rescue response team dedicated to honoring the dead, told CNN. 

“Five men came out of the van and captured a woman, ripping off her clothes as they formed a circle around her. One raped her and killed her with a knife. Then he raped her again”, Raz Cohen, eye witness and survivor of Hamas’ massacre at the Tribe of Nova festival, told CNN.

“Our forensic scientists have found bodies of women and girls raped with such violence that their pelvic bones were broken,” Michal Herzog, Israeli First Lady, wrote

“They bent someone over, and I understood he was raping her, and then he was passing her on to someone else; she was alive, she stood on her feet, and she was bleeding from her back. I saw that he was pulling her hair. She had long brown hair. I saw him chop off her breast, and then he was throwing it toward the road, tossed it to someone else, and they started playing with it,” an anonymous eyewitness from the Nova festival told CNN. The witness added: “I remember seeing another person raping her, and while he was still inside her, he shot her in the head.”

I am not the same person I was before October 7. I will certainly never be the same woman after hearing the deafening silence that followed from women’s rights organizations across the globe. 

“When they are failing to acknowledge us, to acknowledge what happened here, they are failing humanity,” Cochav Elkayam-Levy, a human rights law expert at Hebrew University, told CNN.

After nearly 50 days of silence after October 7, UN Women finally issued a statement condemning Hamas and their attack. Their initial statement, posted on UN Women’s Instagram page, read, “We condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on October 7 and continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.” However, soon after, they deleted the post and re-uploaded a statement without the condemnation of Hamas and only calling for the release of hostages.

The same organizations that taught me a sexual assault victim’s trauma go well beyond the incident itself, i.e., “she had it coming with that outfit” or “prove it,” are the same organizations refusing to explicitly condemn mass sexual violence against innocent Israeli children, women, and men.

After October 7, I now find that I don’t count in the eyes of some of the ideologies and human rights movements I passionately defend. The same organizations and movements that I ignorantly believed would, without question, protest mass murder, rape, and mutilation are the same organizations and movements that have stayed silent or legitimized the mass murder, rape, and mutilation. 

Since October 7, there has been a 388% increase in anti-Semitic-related harassment, vandalism, and assault in the United States compared to this time last year, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, the New England Regional Director at The Anti-Defamation League, says. 

Jew hatred has exploded on college campuses across America, including my university, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where students gathered on the night of December 5 to shout on megaphones, “Intifada, intifada, globalize the intifada!” 

I never could have imagined a day when I would feel scared to walk to class out of fear of passing a mob calling for a globalized aggressive resistance against Jews and Israel. I’m tired of being told by non-Jews what is anti-Semitic and what is not. The most prominent expressions of intifadas have been through violence against Jews. While your intent may differ, the impact on the Jewish community remains unchanged.

The extremists who want me dead more than their people alive prey on your ignorance and rely on it to help them promote their agenda of death.  

The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” (Hamas Charter, Article 7). 

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory). [O] Your struggle against the Jews is very significant and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts.” (Hamas Charter, Article 7). 

“I don’t know what kind of evil, devil, can create that kind of an operation because they [Hamas] thought about everything; it was well organized, and the world needs to know that right now,” an Israeli paramedic and first responder at Kibbutz Be’eri, Linor Attitas said. “There was a little girl, 10 or 12, [they] cut off her head,” Attitas added.

On October 8, a speaker at a rally held on UPenn’s campus said, “I think we should all give applause right now to Hamas for a job well done.” Someone defaced an academic building at UPenn with a swastika 12 days later.

At Cornell, a professor called October 7 “exhilarating” and “energizing.” Like thunder follows lightning, a Cornell student said he was going to “shoot up a Kosher dining hall and stab and slit the throat of any Jews he sees on campus,” to “rape and throw off a cliff any Jewish females,” and “bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig Jews.” On October 24, students at George Washington University projected the words “Glory to our martyrs” onto a campus building.

While on her way to class, Noa Fay, 23, a Black, Indigenous, Jewish student at Columbia’s University Barnard College, the same university whose professor Joseph Massad called October 7 “awesome,” walked past a student-led anti-Israel protest where signs read, “by any means necessary” and “one solution, intifada revolution,” referencing both Hitler’s “Final Solution” as well as the First and Second Intifada, a campaign of violent attacks carried out by Palestinians dedicated to indiscriminately killing Israeli soldiers and civilians, notably through suicide bombings, many of which were carried out by Palestinian children. 

“This [anti-Semitism] is a psychological problem that can only be dealt with through education, like any other form of hatred that we have come to combat,” Fay says. She added that there needs to be “an equivalent of Critical Race Theory for anti-Semitism,” “or at the very least, anti-Semitism needs to be included in teaching CRT.”

In Los Angeles, Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man waving the Israeli flag, died after being struck on the head with a bullhorn by Loay Alnaji, a professor at Moorpark College in California, who shared pro-Hamas social media posts. 

UPenn School of Communication lecturer Dwayne Booth published numerous vile anti-Semitic cartoons since October 7, including a photoshopped image of starved Jewish prisoners, in a Nazi concentration camp in Ebensee, Austria, where Jews were murdered at the rate of 2,000 per week, holding photoshopped signs that read “Gaza the world’s biggest concentration camp!” and “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza.” 

The Holocaust is not a metaphor.

The Holocaust is a specific historical event which is one of a kind. As Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel said, “The Holocaust is not an example of man’s inhumanity to man. It was man’s inhumanity to Jews.” 

Two days at Babyn Yar, more innocent Jewish lives were claimed than the Israelis or Palestinians that have been killed on both sides of this war since October 7, including militants. 

The mendacious reinvention of the word “Genocide” to describe Israel’s war against eliminating a genocidal American-recognized terrorist organization buries whatever remaining reverence and remembrance of the Holocaust still permeates our society. 

We cannot afford this.  

My Bubbie was asked recently by a 17-year-old girl, “What’s the Holocaust?” Stunned, she thought, “How?” Once again, we cannot afford this. When I say “we,” I don’t just mean us Jews but the free world. The threat anti-Semitism poses to the basic principles that underpin democracy and civilization is at stake right now.

As Bari Weiss said, “It [anti-Semitism] is an early warning system – a sign that the society itself is breaking down. That it is dying. It is a symptom of a much deeper crisis – one that explains how, in the span of a little over 20 years since September 11, educated people now respond to an act of savagery not with a defense of civilization but with a defense of barbarism.”

Jew hatred is exploding globally. At an anti-Israel protest on October 21, in Warsaw, Poland, where both my Bubbie and Papa’s parents escaped Nazi occupation, a protestor held a sign that read, “Keep the world clean” *with the Star of David in the trash* (the same sign was spotted on October 25 at an anti-Israel protest in New York City). Signs like these make me feel dirty. Signs like these held up on the same grounds as the largest Nazi ghetto during the Holocaust. Signs like these held up on the same grounds where Jews who didn’t die from starvation, beatings for being too weak to perform laborious work, disease, or cold-blooded murder got sent to industrial death camps.

In Sydney, Australia, two days after October 7, crowds gathered cheering “Gas the Jews.” In Melbourne, Australia, an elderly care facility housing Holocaust survivors was defaced with swastikas. In Siegen, Germany, a school was vandalized with graffiti, including “Kill all Zionists!” and a crossed-out Star of David.

October 7 was not only one of the worst crimes in modern history but also one of the most documented. That same day, my Bubbie turned to us and said she was “Worried there would be a rise in anti-Semitism.” “Are you kidding me?” my dad erupted. “How could Jews getting tortured, raped, and murdered increase anti-Semitism?” Later, he admitted, “I was wrong.”

A synagogue received bomb threats resulting in evacuation on November 19 in Needham, Massachusetts, 10 minutes from my house. 

Resistance is justified when people are occupied!” we see chanted by angry mobs in the streets of New York City. 

When did violence become activism? When it’s done to Jews.

When it’s Jews, rape is resistance.

When it’s Jews, torture is liberation.

For the first time in my life, I have seen up close the ugly face of anti-Semitism my family warned me of. “Never forget, but also never be naive.” Until October 7, naivety was a privilege I took for granted when it came to being a Jew in America. After seeing the world’s response, or lack thereof, to Jews being slaughtered, I realized that the cancerous possession, which is Jew-hatred that allowed for the elimination of ⅓ of my people in my grandparents’ lifetime, walks amongst me in 2024, celebrating my murder or denying me of its legitimacy, “Whiny Jew show me the proof!

During this time, we must remember it was rhetoric like this that turned the general public, neighbors, and even friends of Jews against us. 

The most common anti-Semitic trope is to tell Jews to “go back to where you came from” or that “you aren’t from here.” At the same time, we are one of the oldest populations. Anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred. No matter how much we have to prove we have a right to exist and that we’re from where we’re from, it’s a fight we have fought for centuries. 

There are Jews from everywhere. Jews from Ethiopia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Malaysia, India, and this is because we’ve been banished from everywhere. 61% of Israel’s population is Mizrahi Jews, Jews who were in the Diaspora when one million Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world between 1948 and 1956. 

The scenes from October 7 mirrored those of those seen during the 1941 Farhud Massacre, the violent dispossession of Jews in Baghdad, Iraq, a once 40% Jewish city at the beginning of the 20th century.

Shlomo Mansour, 86, the oldest captive currently held hostage by Hamas, survived the Farhud.

As Jews, we are from everywhere and told we are from nowhere

To some, it is impossible to be successful and still fit into the “Victim” category. Jews and Israel, as an unfortunately successful minority, fit only in the “Victimizer” category.

Zionism, the Jewish movement for self-determination in the Land of Israel, where our identity and peoplehood were born 3000 years ago, is evidence of decolonization from Arab imperialism, Islamic conquests, and British colonialism. Zionism is the most successful indigenous rights movement in history.

A quick note to the few tokenized Anti-Zionist Jews – your privilege is one your ancestors could never have dreamed of. You, oh Enlightened Jew, whose privilege is built off the backs of dead Jews who yearned for self-determination, freedom, and protection, your privilege is remarkable. No matter how shamed you are into refuting the most essential aspect of your Jewish identity for fleeting “acceptance,” know this: the victims of the Holocaust died as Jews, just like the victims of October 7. Refute, doxx, and appease all you want; history proves you’re still, and always will be, a Jew. 

If it weren’t for the Arab vow to “take into [their] own hands the Final Solution of the Jewish problem through blood and fire”, Palestinians, too, would be celebrating 75 years of independence. If efforts to establish a Palestinian state were not founded on the annihilation of the state of Israel and the killing of every Jew, Palestine would be celebrating 75 years of independence. Yes, if you believe in a two-state solution accepted by Israel and rejected by the Arabs in 1947, 1948, 1967, 1968, 2000, 2002, and 2009, you’re a Zionist.

In the words of Golda Meir, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” In other words, if you uphold martyrdom above life and the death of Jews over the lives of Palestinians, ensuring their future as political pawns, there will never be peace. 

In the minds of some, the debt due to Jews for suffering the Holocaust, Pogroms, Farhud, ethnic cleansing, and millennia of exile, murder, and persecution has long been repaid with interest. Now, Jews, despite being genocided for their being non-white, and the state of Israel, despite its two-thirds population of people of color, are considered uber-white. “Where did you get all that wealth and success?” “You must have stolen it!” In fact, due to their success, Jews are sometimes seen as the apex predator in this contorted worldview. In this way, the progressive Liberal anti-Semitic rhetoric comports well with the same canards and libels that animated the most virulent strains of anti-Semitism of the last century.

Anti-Semitism is constantly manipulating itself, taking the shape of whatever society identifies to be the ugliest problem or the most shameful thing to be, “those damn Jews.In other words, American Jews are politically homeless, again, and the past 160 days have clarified that. 

No committed virtue-signaling student or professor at a major American university would cop to this due either to ignorance or willful self-deception. Still, the evidence embedded in their accusations belies this.

Under the aegis of “social justice,” so-called “peace activists” and outwardly liberal “justice-seeking” individuals exuding self-righteousness gleefully tear down posters of human beings held hostage. Under the aegis of “social justice,” they proudly profess anti-Semitic tropes with their hands on their hips. Of course, “social justice” was the same aim of Hitler and Mao. 

As Dara Horn wrote, “Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have proved to be no match for anti-Semitism, for a clear reason: the durable idea of anti-Semitism as justice.” 

About the Author
Nina Gilbert, 22, from Boston, Massachusetts. Gilbert is a student at The University of Massachusetts Amherst and will graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
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