My Turn: Not right to blame Israel

People walk past a wall with photos of the hostages who are believed to remain captive in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023.

People walk past a wall with photos of the hostages who are believed to remain captive in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. AP PHOTO/OHAD ZWIGENBERG

By RHONDA WAINSHILBAUM

Published: 12-06-2023 10:16 PM

This is a scary time to be Jewish. Our world turned upside down on Oct. 7. Innocent Israelis were brutally murdered while their Hamas assassins happily filmed the torture of children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children.

We are mourning our dead and are horrified by the utter cruelty and hatred of Hamas. We feel betrayed by the world, as it turns a blind eye to Hamas’ cynical tactics of using Gazans as human shields and portrays Israel as an aggressor which intentionally kills innocent Gazans.

The demonization of Israel is so pervasive that we are afraid to show support for our ancestral homeland, which has been battered by 10,000 rockets since Oct. 7. We mourn for the heartbreaking and devastating destruction and death of innocent Gazans, who are exploited by Hamas. We feel hopeless because the peace we desperately want for Israel and its neighbors seems farther away than ever.

Some Palestinian rights activists claim that the Oct. 7 massacre was a form of justified resistance and that Israel had it coming. Two days after the attacks, as Israelis were trying to identify mutilated, charred and decapitated bodies, 34 student groups at Harvard held Israel “entirely responsible” for the attacks. Columbia Professor Joseph Massad wrote an article online in which he praised Hamas’ terror attack, calling it “astonishing,” “astounding,” and “incredible.” A Cornell professor stated at a rally that he was “exhilarated” by the massacre. A Yale professor called it “extraordinary.”

Like the Nazis who burned down synagogues and blamed the destruction on the Jews, victim-blaming continues today. Anti-Zionism has been the socially acceptable way to enact a double standard, blame Israel, and excuse Palestinian violence.

We see that the compassion and respect that the left shows other vulnerable minorities does not apply to us. We know from history that our neighbors can turn on us, as they did in during the Holocaust, and in Muslim-majority countries, when 900,000 Jews were expelled in the 1940s through the 1970s.

We see that terrorists who committed brutal acts of violence against unarmed civilians are being called freedom fighters. Throwing grenades at kids hiding in closets, and slitting a women’s stomach and stabbing her baby, were glorified as self-defense. The terror group did not kill right-wing extremist settlers in the occupied West Bank, but farmers and peace activists in undisputed territory, many of whom regularly volunteered to bring Gazans to hospitals in Israel to receive care.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

An intimate concert in the hills: Watermelon Wednesdays celebrates 25 years of presenting world-class acoustic music
12-year-old Gill resident joins Circus Smirkus, with local performances this weekend
Real Estate Transactions: July 19, 2024
Former NMH dorm head admits to having sex with minor; charge stems from 1975
Montague board may consider Falls Farm enforcement order after erosion, wetlands violations
Talks on noise mitigation at Greenfield grow facility to continue Aug. 15

Beheading and burning babies, rape, torture, kidnapping, and using human shields are not morally equivalent to the unintentional deaths caused by Israel Defense Forces bombings because vast quantities of weapons and Hamas fighters are in tunnels beneath schools, hospitals and mosques. The equation of the two is unfair.

Activists use the slogan “occupation,” but in fact all Israelis left Gaza in 2005. Hamas redirected billions of dollars in humanitarian aid into building a war machine at the expense of its own citizens.

Why does Gaza lack water? Hamas repurposes their water infrastructure to build deadly rockets. Why do Gazans live in poverty? Billions of dollars were spent on weapons and tunnels. Can you imagine what Gaza would look like today if these funds had been spent on peacefully developing their seaside country, instead of on destroying Israel?

Hamas hoards fuel as Gazan hospitals run low, and fires rockets from populated areas. Their cynical and successful tactic is to maximize the casualties of their own people to enrage the world against Israel.

Protesters call for a cease-fire, which would keep Hamas armed and committing more atrocities. They chant from the “River to the Sea,” and “intifada,” inciting a violent slaughter of Jews in their homeland. They shout “genocide” implying that Israel is on a mission to wipe out Palestinians.

If this were the case, why would the IDF do everything in its power to minimize civilian casualties, sending countless messages, phone calls, and pamphlets warning Gazans to leave the combat zone? Hamas set up roadblocks to prevent the exodus and on Nov. 4 they attacked Israeli forces working to provide a safe passage for residents to flee south from Gaza City. Indeed, it is Hamas that openly calls for the extinction of all Jews.

After the horrifying atrocities of Oct. 7, what alternative does Israel have but to disarm them? Activists should promote co-existence for both sides, denounce Hamas, and acknowledge the role that their jihadist mentality has perpetrated on the peace and well-being for of all people in the region.

If Hamas puts down their arms, there will be peace. If Israel puts down its arms, it will be annihilated.

Rhonda Wainshilbaum lives in Leyden.