December 28, 2023
This piece originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post.
After Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis in the most barbaric ways imaginable, perpetrated horrific sexual violence, and kidnapped hundreds of civilians – it’s hard to imagine anyone excusing – or even worse – celebrating this attack.
Unfortunately, many have.
These celebrations and attacks on Jewish communities and institutions have caused a major uptick in antisemitism worldwide. If we are going to counter this post-October 7 surge, we must identify the forces driving it. There are four big lies we must tackle head-on if we are going to be successful.
The first is the notion that “From the River to the Sea” means the liberation of Palestinians or a secular binational Palestinian state. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a rallying cry for the erasure of the State of Israel and its people.
The second is that “intifada” is a legitimate form of resistance. Rather, calls to “globalize the intifada” are a celebration of brutally violent terror campaigns waged against Israeli civilians. Those who call for a global intifada are exhorting such acts worldwide to incite violence against Jews and those who support Israel.
The third is the idea that Israel is a white settler-colonialist state. The opposite is true. Jews have called the Land of Israel home for millennia, as proven by historical and archaeological evidence. The majority of Israelis are people of color from the Middle East and North Africa.
Actual European colonists set out to enrich their mother countries and/or themselves, but Jews settling in Mandatory Palestine had no mother country; they were fleeing persecution and returning to their indigenous homeland.
The fourth, and perhaps most egregious and dangerous, is the accusation that Israel is committing genocide. While we all can mourn the loss of innocent Palestinian life, we also must state the facts. The word “genocide” – first coined in response to the Holocaust – refers to acts “committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”
The Palestinian population has, in reality, quintupled since 1967. Calling Israel’s actions genocidal is a modern-day blood libel that purposefully distorts the Holocaust. The genocidal actor is, rather, Hamas, whose 1988 covenant calls for the murder of Jews worldwide.
This moment requires truth and moral clarity
THESE FOUR lies have spread like wildfire. The horrific results for Jewish communities around the world are there for all to see.
Hamas’s assault has been glorified and justified on college campuses throughout the US. At George Washington University, phrases including “Glory to Our Martyrs” were projected onto a building for hours. At Cornell University, a student threatened to kill Jewish students in an online forum. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
This would be disturbing enough if limited to students, but it isn’t. One professor declared himself “exhilarated.” Another characterized the onslaught as legitimate resistance.
Some administrators are no better.
When testifying before Congress about antisemitism on their campuses, the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology refused to say whether calling for the genocide of Jews inherently violates their respective codes of conduct. Instead, they equivocated, saying that it would depend on the context, or that it would not be actionable unless it targeted individuals.
It’s no wonder that since the October 7 attack, “more than half of Jewish college students across the United States say they feel less safe on their campus,” according to Hillel.
FBI director Christopher Wray told lawmakers on December 5 that there has been a 60% year-over-year increase in reported hate crimes after October 7, with most of that increase driven by crimes against Jews. As Wray has previously noted, although Jews make up just 2.4% of the United States population, they are the victims of nearly 60% of religious-based hate crimes.
The four big lies seek to delegitimize Israel and Zionism in order to legitimize attacks against Israelis and Jews.
We must fight these lies with the truth and moral clarity that this moment requires. We must show the resolve and determination to make our voices heard, and our battle must continue long after Israel wins this war.