By: Sam Ross
Edited by: Constanza Leautaud Grajales
Anyone with access to a news outlet can see that the world is in absolute shambles right now. On October 7th 2023, Hamas (the Palestinian territories’ largest terrorist group and one of its major political parties) invaded Israel from the Gaza Strip. From there, the group launched rockets at Israeli communities, subsequently killing 1300 people. Hamas took 242 hostages and (at the time of writing this article) only five have been released. This attack, though a surprise, was not unprovoked. It would be naive and frankly quite biased of me, as a Jewish person, to make such a claim. This attack came after years of bitter battle between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people who both have been relentlessly fighting over the same piece of land. There have been thousands of innocent people on both sides who have been killed as a result of this ongoing war. No one is benefiting from this.
My goal in writing this article is not to propagate my opinion about this conflict onto any readers. I am not going to convince you that one state deserves to exist over the other or to justify any side’s actions. The war itself is not my main focus. I simply wish to draw importance on the recent rise of anti-Semitism, about which many outside of the Jewish community may be uninformed.
Incidents of harassment towards Jewish people in The United States have increased by 388 percent over the same period last year. This anti-Semtism has manifested in several different forms, whether it be through physical violence, verbal assault, or, vandalism. In Beverly Hills, holocaust survivor Renee Firestone had her home vandalized with hateful speech attacking her religion. This was not only a violation of her property, but it also triggered painful recollections of horrific incidents in her life. Nobody deserves to feel that way, especially at home.
This rise in anti-Semitism has extended beyond the United States, for instance Canada which has also confronted several violent instances. Jewish Canadians have been placed under “high alert” according to MP Karina Gould. This is sad but evident in the rise of violence. At the time of my writing this article, Montreal has had two synagogues attacked via firebombing and two Jewish schools shot at. While no direct injuries were sustained at these two attacks, the fear that was created as a result of someone’s safe space, their haven of their place of worship or school is something that will undoubtedly leave emotional scars within the community.
What I find to be especially frustrating is how people are validating this hatred with excuses like “the Israeli government has been mistreating Palestinans for generations.” The Jewish people on an individual level are not the Israeli government, just as Palestinian civilians are not Hamas. The children who just want to attend their Hebrew school do not speak for nor represent the Israeli government. A 99 year old holocaust survivor is not the Israeli government. Drawing parallels between a government’s actions and a Jewish individual living across the sea is irrational, but justifying violence against this group on such grounds is heinous. Jews all across the world are caught in the crossfire of this struggle as collateral damage, because although they are not directly involved in the War against Israel, they endure heavy consequences.
Once again, my objective is not for you to read this piece and be convinced to agree with one side or the other. I simply want these cases of anti-Semitism to be acknowledged given that not everyone is able to go to school, their synagogue, nor live peacefully at home without fear of being attacked. Some people have the luxury of turning a blind eye to this issue or publishing harmful information without any second thought. I would urge those people to consider how many people are being affected by this rise in anti-Semtism and to educate themselves.
Propagating hatred towards any group solves no issues.
ADL. “ADL Records Dramatic Increase in U.S. Antisemitic Incidents Following Oct. 7 Hamas Massacre.” ADL, 24 Oct. 2023, www.adl.org/resources/press-release/adl-records-dramatic-increase-us-antisemitic-incidents-following-oct-7.
Davis, Elliot. “A Timeline of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict | Best Countries | U.S. News.” U.S News & World Report, 10 Nov. 2023, www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/slideshows/a-timeline-of-the-israel-palestinian-conflict.
Human Right Watch. “Gaza: Hostage Videos an ‘Outrage on Personal Dignity.’” Human Rights Watch, 10 Nov. 2023, www.hrw.org/news/2023/11/10/gaza-hostage-videos-outrage-personal-dignity#:~:text=Four%20female%20hostages%20have%20since,conditions%20since%202014%20and%202015.
Leib, Mason. “Holocaust Survivor’s Beverly Hills Home Vandalized amid Spike in Reported Antisemitism.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 8 Nov. 2023, abcnews.go.com/GMA/Living/holocaust-survivor-beverly-hills-home-vandalized-spike-reported-antisemitism/story?id=104617448.
Maratta, Alessia Simona. “Montreal Jewish School Target of Another Shooting in City’s Week-Long String of Hate Crimes.” Global News, Global News, 13 Nov. 2023, globalnews.ca/news/10087483/jewish-school-montreal-shooting-fourth-hate-crime-one-week/.
“File:Anti-Semitism Klapeida.jpg.” Wikimedia Commons. 6 Sep 2023, 22:15 UTC. 13 Nov 2023, 15:23 <https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Anti-Semitism_Klapeida.jpg&oldid=799094051>.