LEYDEN, MASS. —
Rhonda Wainshilbaum is an artisan and a civic volunteer, living and working in Massachusetts, just over the Vermont line.
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's cynical tactics of using Gazans as human shields and portrays Israel as an aggressor that intentionally kills innocent Gazans.
The demonization of Israel is so pervasive that we are afraid to show support for our ancestral homeland. And the peace we desperately want for Israel (which has received 10,000 rockets since Oct. 7), 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, 31 "social justice" groups at Harvard held Israel "entirely responsible."
A Cornell professor said he was "exhilarated" by the attacks.
A Yale professor called it an "extraordinary day."
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Like the Nazis who burned down synagogues and blamed the destruction on the Jews, victim blaming continues today. Anti-Zionism is 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 during the Holocaust and, later, in Muslim-majority countries, when 900,000 Jews were expelled after the creation of Israel.
We see that terrorists who committed mind-numbing acts of violence against unarmed civilians - including babies and children - are being called freedom fighters.
Gazan civilians joined in to loot from the burnt farms and houses. The terror group did not kill right-wing 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.
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Hamas's planned massacre is not the same as Gazans who are killed unintentionally because Israel needs to bomb a building that is hiding a tunnel, and Hamas prevents them from leaving. The equivalence of the two is unfair and infuriating.
Activists use the euphemism "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, stores weapons in and around schools, hospitals, and mosques, and fires rockets from populated areas. Their cynical objective is to maximize the casualties of their own people to enrage the world against Israel.
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Protestors call for a "ceasefire," which would keep Hamas armed and committing more atrocities. They chant "from the river to the sea" and "intifada," words and phrases that call for 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 Israel Defense Forces 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 plans for the extinction of Jews.
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We mourn the innocent loss of civilians in Gaza who are exploited by Hamas, which controls the region with an iron fist. After the horrifying atrocities of Oct. 7, what alternative does Israel have but to disarm its forces?
Activists should promote coexistence 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 arms, there will be peace.
If Israel puts down her arms, she will be annihilated.
This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.