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Resolve and Optimism Between Yom Hashoah and Israel’s National Holidays

British teens placed pictures of Israeli hostages seized by Hamas on the train tracks leading to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the notorious Nazi death camp. Photo: JRoots

JNS.orgWhen I was debating whether to join a command course in the army, my late grandmother Esther told me, “In Auschwitz, we didn’t volunteer. We always tried to hide in the back.”

This advice was the expression of an extreme life experience, the days of hell in the Auschwitz concentration camp. But it also characterizes Jews throughout the generations, and that feeling of insecurity and instability as part of 2,000 years of persecution with the Holocaust as its most terrible and horrific manifestation. One of the great changes brought about by the establishment of the State of Israel was the opportunity to be a Jew with your head held high. These days, many sense that this feeling is eroding. But a historical perspective shows that we still can and should raise our heads proudly.

In 2024, in this period between Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) and Israel’s national holidays—Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron) and Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut), Israel and the Jewish people are in serious crisis. After months of war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the south and Hezbollah in Lebanon to the north, and weeks of anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish demonstrations on U.S. campuses and in various cities around the world, the feeling of persecution is hard to shake.

Indeed, recent surveys by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) reflect this all too well. JPPI’s monthly “Voice of the Jewish People” survey of American Jews found that in April, about 90% of respondents from across the political spectrum (from very liberal to very conservative) reported feeling that “discrimination against Jews has increased.” This follows data from previous surveys showing an increase in the sense of threat they feel as Jews in the United States.

A similar situation is clearly reflected in JPPI’s survey of Israeli society conducted a few days ago. There, for the first time, it was revealed that more Israelis (44%) are not confident in Israel’s victory in the war compared to the 38% who are. It also found an alarming decline in the number of Israeli Jews who are optimistic about the country’s future and their personal future as Israelis. Here in Israel—and there in the world’s largest Jewish community outside Israel—our spirit suffers.

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah), when we face the absolute human evil directed specifically at the Jewish people, likely intensified these feelings. The narratives of those persecuted in the Holocaust echo in the present. Stories of survivors of the killing machinery of Europe reverberate in the stories of those who survived the Oct. 7 massacre.

The images coming to us from the United States—the place where Jews experienced a flourishing unprecedented in history—recall those from a century ago. Scenes of attacks on Jews and blatantly antisemitic chants remind many of the atmosphere in Germany in the 1930s, which culminated in the most terrible genocide of all. When traces of a horrible past can be found in the challenging present, it is clear why many feel despair.

But it is precisely the depths of the current crisis that require us to broaden our gaze, so that it accommodates both past and future. The blow we suffered on Oct. 7 was cruel and costly, in human life and in damage to Israel’s deterrence and national resilience. But it is very far from triumphing over us.

During the long years of exile and their nadir during the Holocaust, all the Jews could do in the face of violent pogroms was pray for a miracle and cry for help—a cry that mostly went unanswered. On Oct. 7, as soon as the extent of the attack by the Hamas butchers became known, civilians and soldiers headed south and fought back. Within a few hours, the Israel Defense Forces mobilized and within about 24 hours launched its counteroffensive. Although Israel’s image as an unshakeable power has taken a hit, its power and its strength are very much intact and robust. The IDF is still a formidable army. The Israeli economy is still sound. Israelis are still determined and able to defend their homeland. Despite the destruction, which requires thoughtful recovery, our situation remains better than it was across the many years of Jewish history.

The same is true outside Israel. It is true that antisemitism is rearing its head. The number of antisemitic attacks reported in Europe and the United States has exponentially increased in recent months. In several European cities, and unfortunately, also on some of the most prestigious American college campuses, Jews are afraid to display their Jewishness openly. And yet, these are still the exceptional cases that prove the rule. Throughout Europe and certainly in the United States, the Jews are a strong group in every sense, whose rights are recognized—chief among them the right to live in security wherever they are. True, we should be vigilant, and the fight against antisemitism should be determined and uncompromising. And yet, broadly speaking, the situation of Jews in the world is better than ever before.

Between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel’s national holidays, we need both resolve and optimism. If we thought that our enemies had given up their desire to expel us from the land, we have discovered once again, the hard way, that they are bloodthirsty and seek to destroy the Jewish state. But despite the darkness of our past, when there was no real Jewish sovereignty, and the challenges of the present, we are a strong people with a strong state. The indomitable Jewish spirit—together with the capabilities we have built—will safeguard our future. In these trying days, it is still possible and appropriate to raise our heads a little, and to take in a brighter horizon.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Guitarist Eric Clapton Says ‘Israel Is Running the World,’ Criticizes US Hearings on Campus Antisemitism

Eric Clapton during his guest appearance on the YouTube channel “The Real Music Observer” on May 22, 2024. Photo: YouTube screenshot

British singer-songwriter and guitarist Eric Clapton promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Israel runs the world during an interview last week on the YouTube channel “The Real Music Observer.”

The Grammy Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 79, referenced recent US congressional hearings where lawmakers grilled presidents of elite universities about surging antisemitism and rampant anti-Israel demonstrations on their campuses.

“I was so enthused about what was going on at Columbia [University] and everywhere. And then I saw, what I couldn’t believe, because it freaked me out, were the Senate hearings, which were like the Nuremberg trials, you know?” Clapton said during his guest appearance on “The Real Music Observer,” hosted by David Spuria. “The Senate committee would be asking pointed questions to presidents of universities, saying, ‘I just want to hear yes or no. Don’t talk to me about context. Yes or no, are you promoting antisemitism in your college? Yes or no.’ And I thought, what is this, the Spanish Inquisition? And it is! It’s AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], it’s the lobby. Israel is running the show. Israel is running the world.”

The hearings that Clapton referenced were held by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, not a Senate panel.

In November, a little more than a month after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, Clapton released an instrumental song called “Voice of a Child.” The song’s music video features photos from pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rallies around the world as well as images of destruction in the Gaza Strip. The music video completely overlooks the Oct. 7 massacre that sparked the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Clapton has recently been performing with a guitar that he painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag. Talking about the guitar while appearing on “The Real Music Observer,” he said, “We’re doing a thing now on this tour that I wrote originally as a tribute to Jeff Beck [who died in 2023]. I performed it at a tribute concert and then I didn’t play it anymore. But for this tour I’m doing it under a different guise. It’s the same tune, but I devoted it to the situation in Gaza. It’s called ‘Blue Dust’ because that’s what’s probably going to be left there. And I play a guitar that’s painted like the Palestinian flag.”

Clapton is a close friend of former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, who has openly expressed antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments, and has performed in garments that resemble a Nazi SS officer uniform. Clapton has defended Waters in the past, claiming that people “misinterpret” the latter’s position on Israel, and said last week that it takes “guts” to share political opinions like his.

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