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The Jewish left is grappling, sometimes painfully, with how to respond to Hamas’ attack

(JTA) — In his first posts about Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians, progressive writer Joshua Leifer expressed horror at the accounts of atrocities that were emerging from southern Israel. 

He also lamented the range of progressive organizations and figures who appeared to condone or even celebrate the attack — leaving him with “a deep sense that the left abroad has lost the values it was supposed to stand for.”

“I thought we were leftists because we wanted a world without war, torture, the killing of families & children in their beds,” Leifer posted on X. “Self-professed human rights defenders, even would-be colleagues are celebrating and glorifying unspeakable acts that violate the most basic elements of human life. I feel sick.”

The thread of posts — which Leifer later expanded into an article for the left-wing journal Dissent — struck a chord among other Jews on the left. The progressive Jewish writer Peter Beinart shared Leifer’s thread, saying it “captures my feelings exactly.”

Some progressive figures and organizations, from local Black Lives Matter chapters to the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, have appeared to condone or even celebrate the massacre — which killed 1,300 people, largely civilians — as an act of resistance against an illegal occupation. Some Jewish leftists have mourned the slaughter while placing the blame squarely on Israel. 

And others who have also spent their careers opposing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory are now decrying their ideological allies’ refusal to condemn the killing of civilians — in some cases their friends or relatives.

“For the people who are most connected to people in Israel, this is a really, really hard and disheartening time,” said Arielle Angel, editor-in-chief of the progressive magazine Jewish Currents. “Because what they see is people totally dismissing the value of the lives of people that they know and that they think should not be considered collateral damage.” 

At the same time, Angel said, Jewish leftists are confronting another tension: They are reckoning with the mass killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas — and also continue to oppose Israel’s occupation and airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, which the terror group governs. 

“I think this is a new moment,” she said. “If you’re talking to American Jewish leftists, there’s a split in terms of where their energy is going right now.”

She added later, “I’m very scared about the future of the left in this moment.” 

Some on the left, including at least one Jewish writer, openly celebrated the attack shortly after it began. 

On Saturday, as Hamas attackers were still in Israel, Rivkah Brown, a journalist for the U.K.’s Novara Media, posted on X that the assault should mark “a day of celebration for supporters of democracy and human rights worldwide, as Gazans break out of their open-air prison.” The New York City Democratic Socialists of America promoted a rally expressing “solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist 75 years of occupation and apartheid.”

And in the immediate wake of the massacre, some left-wing Jewish organizations said blame lay with Israel. IfNotNow, which opposes Israel’s occupation, said of the murdered Israelis that “their blood is on the hands of the Israeli government, the US government which funds and excuses their recklessness, and every international leader who continues to turn a blind eye to decades of Palestinian oppression.” 

Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist group, acknowledged the “unprecedented assault” and the hundreds of Israeli casualties in an Oct. 7 statement that did not mention Hamas. 

“Israeli apartheid and occupation — and United States complicity in that oppression — are the source of all this violence,” the statement said. “Inevitably, oppressed people everywhere will seek — and gain — their freedom.”

Other groups such as Jews for Racial and Economic Justice tread a middle ground, saying, “We recognize that attacks on civilians by Hamas are neither justifiable nor unprovoked.”

Several days later, as the scale of the atrocities became clear, some of those activists walked back or qualified their statements. On Tuesday, New York City’s DSA said it mourned “the loss of life in the region” and apologized “for the confusion our post caused and for not making our values explicit.” It deleted its original tweet.

Brown also deleted her tweet and apologized on Wednesday. “I responded too quickly and in a moment of heightened emotion,” she said. “Witnessing Palestinians defy decades of oppression hardened me to the suffering of Israeli civilians, including my friends and family, and I regret that. I’m sorry.”

On the same day, Jewish Voice for Peace released another statement saying that it “mourns deeply for the over 1200 Israelis killed, the families destroyed, including many of our own, and fears for the lives of Israelis taken hostage.”

The group added, “the massacres committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians are horrific war crimes. There is no justification in international law for the indiscriminate killing of civilians or the holding of civilian hostages.”

On Wednesday, JVP spokesperson Sonya Meyerson-Knox said the group felt it was caught in a precarious position — fearing that public expressions of grief for Israeli civilians would fuel a harsher military response against Gaza. 

“We were feeling the incredible pressure of needing to say something that we hope addresses both our fear and our grief and our sorrow and our anger, and that doesn’t allow any of that to be used as fodder for the Israeli government and the United States government warmongering,” Meyerson-Knox said. “Many of us are feeling compelled to process our grief through a hard pivot to a prevention of a scale of death that is utterly inconceivable.”

The Israel Defense Forces has repeatedly said it abides by international law and takes measures to prevent civilian casualties, including by risking its own troops to reduce collateral damage. Human rights organizations and the United Nations have cast doubt on those claims and harshly criticized the conduct of Israel’s military, while other bodies — in addition to the United States and other allies — have defended Israeli actions. 

Angel said other activists on the Jewish left shared concerns similar to the ones expressed by Meyerson-Knox. 

“Even people who are not expressing grief right now are grieving, and it’s a question of whether they think that that grief is the most important thing, and what they think that public expression of grief is going to do,” Angel said. “People are afraid that there’s going to be a Palestinian genocide.”

The high death toll among Israelis on Saturday had forced a reckoning for some on the Jewish left, since in previous conflicts more Palestinians were killed, Angel said, though she added that the balance of casualties was shifting as Israel carried out airstrikes in Gaza.

“We have never seen Israeli casualties, at least in one event, that exceeded Palestinian casualties,” she said, stressing that she still believed the conflict is rooted in Israel’s occupation despite the death toll. “We have become practiced at answering that and at trying to help people see that. We are not practiced at a situation like this.”


The post The Jewish left is grappling, sometimes painfully, with how to respond to Hamas’ attack appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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UN Committee Says Not Enough Evidence to Declare a Famine in Gaza

Egyptian trucks carrying humanitarian aid make their way to the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel, May 30, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The United Nations Famine Review Committee (FRC), a panel of experts in international food security and nutrition, has cast doubt on the notion that the northern Gaza Strip is suffering through a famine.

In a report released earlier this month, the committee responded to a claim by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) — a US-created provider of warning and analysis on food insecurity — that a famine was likely underway in northern Gaza. FEWS NET said that northern Gaza began experiencing famine in April and projected that the embattled enclave would endure famine until at least July 31.

The FRC rejected the assertion that northern Gaza is experiencing famine, citing the “uncertainty and lack of convergence of the supporting evidence employed in the analysis.” The panel carries out evaluations of humanitarian conditions on behalf of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), an international famine monitoring initiative. 

The FRC added that there is not sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of a famine within northern Gaza and called for more humanitarian access into the warzone, providing experts an opportunity to give an accurate assessment of the conditions. 

“The very fact that we are unable to endorse (or not) FEWS NET’s analysis is driven by the lack of essential up-to-date data on human well-being in northern Gaza, and Gaza at large,” the report stated. “Thus, the FRC strongly requests all parties to enable humanitarian access in general, and specifically to provide a window of opportunity to conduct field surveys in northern Gaza to have more solid evidence of the food consumption, nutrition, and mortality situation.”

However, the panel warned that Gaza is still enduring “extreme human suffering” and called for the “complete, safe, unhindered, and sustained” transport of aid into the enclave.

The report represents a course-reversal for the FRC, which claimed that Gaza likely surpassed the “famine thresholds for acute malnutrition” in March. The FRC now contends that civilians in Gaza are experiencing improved humanitarian conditions as a result of increased aid flowing into the war-torn enclave.   

“Since the FRC review conducted in March 2024, there seems to have been a significant increase in the number of food trucks entering northern Gaza,” the report read.

“The FEWS NET analysis acknowledges that humanitarian assistance in the area has increased significantly, finding that caloric availability from humanitarian assistance increased from 9 percent in February to 34 percent  to 36 percent in March and 59 percent to 63 percent in April. The opening of alternative routes to the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, the authorization of commercial truck entry, as well as airdrops, allowed for an increase of food availability,” the report continued.

Several aid agencies, media outlets, and politicians, as well as pro-Palestinian activists, have repeatedly accused Israel of inflicting famine on Palestinians since beginning its military operations in Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people throughout southern Israel. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, accused Israel of using starvation as a “weapon of war.”

Despite these allegations, data produced by the United Nations showed that Israel allowed more than 100 food trucks to enter Gaza per day in March, an increase from the daily average of 70 trucks before the war. Moreover, many trucks transporting aid into Gaza have been hijacked and seized by Hamas terrorists, increasing the difficulty of distributing food to civilians.

The post UN Committee Says Not Enough Evidence to Declare a Famine in Gaza first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hundreds rallied outside Toronto school board offices to protest a racism report that doesn’t mention antisemitism

Hundreds of people filled the lawn in front of the Toronto District School Board (TSDB) to oppose a proposed anti-discrimination policy being voted on by trustees that would include recognizing anti-Palestinian racism—while failing to acknowledge rising antisemitism in schools. The report, entitled Combating Hate and Racism: Student Learning Strategy, was received without any amendments by […]

The post Hundreds rallied outside Toronto school board offices to protest a racism report that doesn’t mention antisemitism appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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French President Denounces ‘Scourge of Antisemitism’ After 12-Year-Old Jewish Girl Raped

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference in Paris, France, June 12, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday denounced the “scourge of antisemitism” and called on schools to hold discussions on racism and hatred of Jews after three boys were charged with raping a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a Paris suburb.

The young girl told police that she was approached by three boys who raped and beat her in the northwestern Paris suburb of Courbevoie on Saturday in an incident that French authorities have described as a hate crime. According to French media, the assailants called the victim a “dirty Jew” and uttered other antisemitic remarks during the brutal gang-rape.

A police source told AFP that one of the boys asked the young girl questions about “her Jewish religion” and Israel, citing the child’s statement to investigators.

The boys — two aged 13 and one 12 — were arrested on Monday and indicted on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Macron’s office said the president asked French Education Minister Nicole Belloubet “to organize a discussion in all schools on the fight against antisemitism and racism, to prevent hate speech with serious consequences from infiltrating schools.”

The rape of the unnamed 12-year-old girl has caused outrage throughout France and among the Jewish community.

Elie Korchia, president of France’s Central Israelite Consistory, told BFM TV that the girl was raped “because she is Jewish,” adding, “We have never seen antisemitism that extends so far in all areas of life.”

Courbevoie Mayor Jacques Kossowski echoed that sentiment in a statement released on X/Twitter, saying, “The rape was carried out with antisemitic intent.”

Eric Ciotti, leader of Les Républicains, also condemned the “rise of antisemitism” in France, which he argued was “fueled by the alliance of the far left.” He added that “we must act as a bulwark” against antisemitism.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Rally party, decried the rape on social media. She noted “the explosion of antisemitic acts” in France since Oct. 7.

The recent gang-rape came amid a record surge of antisemitism in France in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Antisemitic outrages rose by over 1,000 percent in the final three months of 2023 compared with the previous year, with over 1,200 incidents reported — greater than the total number of incidents in France for the previous three years combined.

In April, a Jewish woman was beaten and raped in a suburb of Paris as “vengeance for Palestine.”

The post French President Denounces ‘Scourge of Antisemitism’ After 12-Year-Old Jewish Girl Raped first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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