It is mid-January

As I write this in mid-January, I pray and hope that the situation in Israel will be better when you read this than it is right now. The pain and anguish continue; the despair about the hostages; the animosity of most of the world, all hang heavy and are factors in the collective trauma we all feel. With support for Israel’s Gaza invasion waning, Jewish people inside and outside of Israel have a frustrating problem. The mission of those who love Israel is to advocate for Israel and educate others on why Israel must destroy Hamas. Hamas’s heinous brutality demanded Israel’s just invasion of Gaza. We’re not surprised that much of the world’s shallow reservoir of sympathy for Israel and Jewish people is nearly dry. But American Jewish people couldn’t imagine how this anti- Israel hatred could metastasize into ugly verbal and physical violence in universities, public schools, and public squares.

Social media platforms are fabrication factories of lies. Mainstream news has a self-imposed requirement of presenting “both sides of the story,” as if there is “another side” to Hamas’s wholesale slaughter of Jewish people and foreign nationals. Making the case for Israel can feel futile. However, the opportunity to influence people open to hearing the facts is imperative.

When you find yourself engaged in a conversation, start by asking them:

  • ·  What “other ways” would they recommend for Israel to protect its citizens from Hamas’s devastating terrorist attack and ongoing rocket fire on civilians? If they respond with generalities and platitudes, ask them for specifics. Remind them that Israel returned Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005. Since then, Israel has suffered almost daily mortar and missile attacks and fought Hamas in several limited “military operations.” Is there any other conclusion from Hamas’s October 7 massacre that they intend to carry out a total genocide of Israeli Jews and threaten Jews outside of Israel with the same fate?
  • ·  Ask them if they have ever visited Israel and its southern border. Are they really authorities on Israel’s war strategies? Offer them this analogy: after viewing several YouTube videos, would they feel qualified to offer a second opinion on a cardiac patient who still suffered chest pains after an angioplasty?·  Question how they would solve Israel’s longstanding problems with a hostile Hamas when Hamas leaders were giddy with “success” over the number of Jews they burned, butchered, and beheaded. Remind them of two statements from Hamas leaders from Hamas’s leader, Ismael Haniyeh, on October 7: “Today, the enemy has had a political, military, intelligence, security and moral defeat inflicted upon it, and we shall crown it, with the grace of G-d, with a crushing defeat that will expel it from our lands, our holy city of Al-Quds, our Al-Aqsa mosque…;” or, Taher El-Nounou, a Hamas media adviser, who said, “I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders….” Ask them how their child would feel if your state’s education system purchased textbooks that promote systemic hatred of Jews. Math, English, History – every subject matter includes demonic stereotypes about Jews. These types of textbooks that dehumanize Jews are in use in Gaza and the West Bank.


     If they believe Israel is the creation of white European colonizers, educate them about Israel’s demographics. Do they know that about forty-five percent of Israeli Jews aren’t white? In fact, an increasing number of what American Jews would consider “Jews” of color serve in the highest ranks of Israel’s military, civil service sector, and business sector.

    Many of us feel the high cost of lives that Israel is paying and will continue to pay. For those who don’t, engaging with them on these questions will help explain why compromise with Hamas is impossible and immoral. The effort to educate people isn’t futile. We have an obligation and opportunity to coach family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues on Israel’s obligation to decisively defeat Hamas because Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities need more understanding friends. You’ll know that you’ve succeeded in opening their eyes to the realities of this war when they say, “Thanks, I wasn’t aware of that.”

    All of this is hard to do. But we have to keep trying.

    Rabbi Scolnic