Photo Credit: Tsafrir Abayov, AP
The impact of the recent terrorist attacks against Israel, which have resulted in a new war in the Middle East, is intense and far-reaching. Local Jewish communities around the world are enduring great pain and suffering, as they watch the horrific events unfold, and worry for the safety of their family and friends.
“This is like the 1930s all over again,” a local Jewish resident, speaking under anonymity, shared in a recent sit-down with The Niagara Independent. “This was a soul-crushing genocidal attack… not just on Israelis and Jews, but on humanity.”
The war has significant personal implications for this resident. “A dear friend of mine was at the party where the attack by Hamas took place… she survived, but she lost three of her friends… she has been so traumatized,” she explained. “And most of us know people in the community, in the Israel Defense Forces… it is deeply personal”.
The resident expressed tremendous gratitude for the support that her family has received from the broader Niagara community. “We came to Canada, Niagara specifically, many years ago,” she explained. “It has been good… people are very good to us,” she continued. “So many non-Jewish friends and community partners have been reaching out, extending heart-felt compassion and empathy, asking if there is anything they can do to support us during this most difficult time.” “Their grandparents saved Jews during the Holocaust, and now they are seeking to continue that legacy… we see the righteous among the nations.”
At the same time, concerns regarding misinformation and growing antisemitism run high. “We’re fighting two wars,” the resident argued. “One is in Israel, and the other is happening here, even in our own country, on college campuses,” she further persuaded. “The masses are misinformed, by the media… even as the horrific images are put in front of their faces.” “The Jews have been demonized!”
Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, the resident warns, often leaving much to be desired. “In a lot of cases, DEI programs, which are explicitly designed, in theory, to end racism and bigotry, do not even include antisemitism… the oldest form of racism there is,” she explained. “How can this be?”
As activism and collective demonstrations have erupted across the world, the resident says that safety is a big concern for Jewish families. “Most Jewish children did not go to school last Friday (October 13th), a day of mass protest.” “And some Jewish employees have been afraid to go to work… particularly those who work in academia, where there is so much hatred and antisemitism.”
In order to make lasting progress, the resident believes that silence is not an option. “It is the words of Martin Luther King Jr. that come to mind ‘In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends’,” she explained. “People need to speak up, tell the truth, and condemn this pure evil.” “During this existential crisis, the Jews are actually recommitting themselves to survival… to spiritual survival, to physical survival. We don’t harbor hatred in our hearts. I’m not scared!”
Although the challenges that will face the Jewish community, and the world at large in the months and years ahead are enormous, the resident remains optimistic that a better day will come. “The way that things are trending, is reminiscent of what we saw in Europe leading up to World War II,” she shared. “If I only counted on academia and the media, I wouldn’t be hopeful at all… but God will help us, His eyes will not close on us, He will protect Israel!”