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Opinion: Hamas’ effect on Jews everywhere

Ryan Chase
WSPN’s Ryan Chase shares his thoughts on the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and how it has impacted Jews around the world.

Note from the editors: WSPN prides itself on being an unbiased, open forum for students to express themselves and their opinions. While WSPN aims to represent all voices, the student opinion articles expressed on WSPN do not represent the views of the publication as a whole. WSPN condemns violence and hatred, and hopes to provide a platform for conversation about important issues in our local community. WSPN will be publishing more coverage on this topic soon, including additional opinion articles, to ensure that multiple perspectives are represented.

Before the attack on Israel on Oct. 7, I had never feared being Jewish. I had never thought I would feel unsafe in my school environment or other places in my everyday life. But now, the simple act of turning on my phone is scary, as I don’t know what antisemitic or hateful messages I might read, or what gruesome images I may see. Although antisemitism has been an issue for many years prior to Oct. 7, the events of Oct. 7 have exacerbated the issue beyond imagination.

So far, Hamas, a group classified by America as a terrorist organization, has mercilessly murdered innocent citizens, including women, children and babies. Over 6,700 rockets have been fired from Gaza, with over 1,400 murdered, over 3,800 injured and over 200 hostages taken by Hamas. Gaza is not an open-air prison because of Israel. It is an open-air prison because of Hamas. Gaza has received aid, but Hamas has taken it and used it to buy weapons instead of helping the people in Gaza.

Hamas is a terrorist organization that does not care for its own people, the Palestinians. Instead, Hamas uses them as human shields in places that should be safe, like hospitals, to protect themselves and their weaponry. Additionally, when Israelis were forced out of their homes in Gaza, they left behind steady infrastructure, which Hamas destroyed.

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Israel is the holy land of the Jewish people, so many Jews share a connection to Israel. Since Israel is the only place on earth where Jews hold a majority,  an attack on Israel feels like an attack on Jews everywhere. I live in fear for my close friends and family that live in Israel and are fighting for their lives against Hamas. There was not a day when the Palestinian people had sovereignty over the land of Israel. Israel belongs to the Jewish people, as the Jewish people have deep roots in Israel. We did not steal Israel from Palestine, it is rightfully ours and always has been. The Torah, our holiest text, tells the story of the Jewish people making their way to the holy land. We recite Yisrael in our prayers and songs, and it was the safest place on earth for Jews until the terrorist attacks of Oct. 7.

Since Oct. 7, a day when more Jews were killed in a day since the Holocaust, all I hear are crickets – dead, cold silence. I don’t see friends posting on social media about how terrible the attacks on Israel are, and almost no one has reached out to me to make sure that my family and I are okay. I have had one singular person at my school reach out to me who was not Jewish. This person was not one of my close friends at school, but a fellow WSPN reporter who did not need to do what she did. Those who aren’t Jewish don’t realize how meaningful a simple “how are you doing?” is during this horrific time.

At school, I have heard classmates making antisemitic remarks, voicing their dislike for Jews and Israel for simply existing. I feel helpless, like there is nothing I can do to change this perspective. There has even been antisemitism in our local community. Posts that harshly criticize Israel’s existence can be hateful towards Jews, as Israel was created as a homeland for the Jewish people. Looking at classmates’ posts and comments on social media causes me to wonder if they have the full story about the history of this conflict. It shocks me how people who don’t have a thorough knowledge on this issue can be so open and aggressive through their constant posting. Their posts are harmful because as antisemitism rises, Jews become the victims of anti-Israel sentiment, and this justifies the actions of Hamas, a group that has sworn to eliminate Israel and Jews.

I also see posts of people at colleges preaching the atrocities of the Jews on social media. At Cornell University, a student anonymously made a post saying, “If you see a Jewish ‘person’ on campus follow them home and slit their throats.” The student further stated, “Rats [Jews] need to be eliminated from Cornell.” At Tulane University, two grown men beat up peaceful Jewish students after the students tried to stop the Israeli flag from being burned during a pro-Palestine protest. My sister attends Tulane, and now she and her friends have to look over their shoulder in fear, just because they are Jewish. One of my friends, Tulane University freshman Pnina Sasson, has described her experience at the protest and how the violence she witnessed has continued to affect her.

At the Tulane protest, the Jewish protesters were peacefully singing Israeli and Jewish songs, while several Palestinian protesters threatened them with comments about the Holocaust and continuously told them to kill themselves.

As the protest became increasingly violent, Sasson witnessed the horrifying event of her friend getting his nose bashed in by a grown man hitting him over the head with a megaphone.

These incidents are just a few of many ways that antisemitism has risen and endangered more Jews in the country since Oct. 7.

Americans did not loudly support Al Qaeda after 9/11. They did not support ISIS when they attacked Paris. So I ask now, why do so many Americans on social media support Hamas after they attacked Israel? The answer, I fear, is simple: antisemitism and an underlying dislike of Jews and Israel. This is because Hamas’ stated mission is the destruction of Israel and all of its Jews.

The freedom of speech given to us in America, the freedom that has allowed for hateful and violent protests against Israel and Jews all over this country and on college campuses, is not a right that most people living in Arab countries have. Hamas, for one, does not grant this right and abhors everything the United States stands for. However, do you know which Middle Eastern country allows for freedom of speech? Israel.

Jews are the most persecuted religious group in America, being subject to 60% of religious hate crimes, whereas in 2021, the Jewish people were subject to 51.4% of religious hate crimes. This is a 400% increase in antisemitism since Oct. 7. The Anti-Defamation League has also recorded a “nearly 1000% increase” in antisemitic, violent messages. Antisemitism has been on the rise even before the Israel-Hamas war started.

Israel was created in 1948 to provide Jews with a home where they could live without fear and persecution. Yet, Israel is surrounded by countries who resent its very existence — some of which wish to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Jews reside in Israel because they were pushed out of Europe by people who wanted them gone, and now Israel is no longer safe for them to live in either.

Some of the pro-Palestinian protests have included people burning Israel’s flag, inciting violence in numerous ways and have spiraled from supporting Palestinians to hating Jews. Israel is unapologetically defending itself from terrorists who don’t care who dies. Hamas and terrorists are the enemy, not the country protecting itself from terrorists. I end this article with hope for a day where the Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace, a day where antisemitism doesn’t ravage the world.

This story was originally published on Wayland Student Press on November 30, 2023.