By Ziv Carmi, Guest Columnist
Editor’s Note: This article discusses the ongoing Israel-Hamas War and includes links to content that viewers may find distressing.
I am a Jew. I am a proud Israeli-American and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor and a veteran of two wars in Israel. My father is a ninth generation Israeli and my grandmother grew up in Jerusalem during the final days of Mandatory Palestine and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. We can trace my family’s presence in what is now the State of Israel since the days of the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of Jews in the early sixteenth century. I have at least a dozen relatives in Israel right now—most of them spent the past week in bunkers, and every single one my age has been called from reserves, put on a uniform, and deployed to defend our country.
I am also a graduate of the phenomenal Gettysburg College history program and am pursuing a master’s degree focusing on Israeli history. So let’s start with a history lesson to contextualize the horrific events of the past weekend.
Most people have never heard of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and one of the most prominent Arabs in Mandatory Palestine. Husseini was responsible for engineering the Arab riots and massacres against Jews in 1929, which killed 133 Jews and the 1936-1939 Arab riots that left about 500 Jews dead. In 1941, he traveled to Berlin, where, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, he petitioned Hitler to “accord to Palestine and to other Arab countries the right to solve the problem of the Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries, in accordance with the interest of the Arabs and, by the same method, that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries.”
After World War II, during which the Mufti spread Nazi propaganda to Arabs across the Middle East, recruited Muslims in Yugoslavia into the SS and Wehrmacht, and encouraged European leaders to stop Jews from fleeing their countries, leaving them vulnerable to the Nazi genocide machine, Husseini returned to Mandatory Palestine, where he continued to agitate the early Arab wars against the Jews and, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, “continued to produce and disseminate anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel propaganda” until his death in 1974.
We saw the Mufti’s legacy this weekend when Hamas, a terrorist group that was quite literally founded on the murder of Jews (if you don’t believe me, look at Article 7 of their 1987 charter), tragically murdered at least 1300 Israeli civilians in the single deadliest day for the Jewish people since the end of the Holocaust. We saw it when terrorists went from house to house, murdering babies in their cribs, shooting children, and murdering countless Israeli farmers in their beds. We saw it in the charred and decapitated corpses of infants. We saw it when they burnt Israelis alive in their cars. We saw it when they murdered a child in front of her siblings and parents. We saw it when they murdered a pregnant mother and left her lying dead next to her fetus, still attached to her via the umbilical cord and stabbed through with a knife. We saw it when they shot a grandmother, took a picture of her body lying in a pool of her own blood, and posted it to her Facebook wall. We saw it when they paraglided onto a music festival for peace, murdered at least 250 people and raped women next to the corpses of their friends so many times that they were seen bleeding in their pants in the videos taken of them begging for their lives as they were dragged away.
This last one, especially, hits close to home for me, since two of my cousins—both women—had purchased tickets for this festival and decided not to go for personal reasons. Whenever I see images or hear stories from survivors of the Re’im Music Festival Massacre, I will always think, “G-D forbid, that could’ve been my cousin.”
But it wasn’t just in Israel where we saw the Mufti’s legacy this past week. We saw it in Sydney, Australia, where hundreds stood outside of the Sydney Opera House chanting, “Fuck the Jews! Gas the Jews!” We saw it in New York City, where the Democratic Socialists of New York promoted a rally celebrating the murder of Israeli civilians in the name of “Palestinian Resistance,” cheering when speakers mentioned the 5,000 missiles that were fired on Israel, saying that the “real terrorists” is the state of Israel and mocking and cheering the dead Israeli civilians. We saw it when they gathered to counterprotest a rally in solidarity with Israel and displayed graphic images of dead Israelis to the largely-Jewish audience. We saw it when one person at this rally held up an image of the Nazi swastika, not even hiding his brazen genocidal intentions. We saw it when Black Lives Matter of Chicago tweeted a picture of a Hamas paraglider, unapologetically saying that they “Stand with Palestine.” We saw it at the University of Wisconsin, where a group of students chanted “Glory to the murders!” in support of Hamas. We saw it in Dearborn, Michigan, where over a thousand people cheered during a rally after the speaker said that “Hamas are not the terrorists, Benjamin Netanyahu is the terrorist.”
We see it in the halls of Congress, where flagrant antisemites such as Rashida Tlaib refused to condemn the brutal murder of innocent civilians and blamed Israel for bringing this massacre upon itself, where multiple members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), including Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Cori Bush have remained silent and refused to condemn the New York chapter for promoting an event celebrating terrorism or even for disavowing the single person holding the swastika (to their credits, Congressman Shri Thanedar, unlike his colleagues has both disavowed the rally and resigned from the DSA and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, both DSA members, put out statements condemning this rally). We see it every time someone celebrates the “Palestinian resistance” against Israel, every time someone repeats the phrase “from the river to the sea [ie all of the territory that is currently the State of Israel between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea], Palestine will be free,” advocating for the genocide of all Jews living in Israel, every time someone repeats the false and antisemitic claim that Israel is an apartheid state, every time that we hear the false claims that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. We see it coming from people on the far left, cheering for “decolonization” in the name of “social justice.”
But where they spew hate, celebrating the murder of innocent Jews, we spread love and compassion. We responded to this brutal violence with, according to CBS, tens of thousands of people attending the funeral of a murdered 24-year-old woman in response to her mother’s and sister’s request for ten people to come so that the proper Jewish ritual could be performed, mourning this loss of life and ensuring that her grieving family was not alone in this difficult time. We gathered together to sing our national anthem and express our dearest hopes that one day, we will be able to have a homeland of our own in peace—in airplanes filled with Israelis traveling back home to defend their country, in balconies of crowded apartment complexes, in gatherings of heroic men and women sacrificing their lives for their country, and in bomb shelters while missile alerts sound off. We celebrated weddings of young Israelis both before and after they answered the call to serve their country. We prayed, thanking G-D for sustaining us and keeping us healthy, and asked Him to continue protecting our men and women who left home to defend their countries.
Beyond the Israeli community, we unified together in horror as these nightmares unfolded. Regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, or religion, Americans, Europeans, Japanese, Arabs, anyone with a soul—no matter what their political opinions are towards the larger Israeli-Arab conflict and the ultimate question of how to peacefully solve it- came together to condemn and oppose the unadulterated hatred and savagery that occurred this weekend.
Ismail Haniyeh, former Hamas Prime Minister, said that “we love death like our enemies love life.” And that, indeed, is the fundamental difference between the monsters who organized and perpetrated these inhuman crimes and Israelis. We love life. We grieve when it is taken needlessly. And no matter what, we will fight to our last person to preserve and defend innocent lives.
As long as there is a single Jewish soul continuing to spread that love and compassion, no matter what they do to us, the face of evil—represented by men such as Hitler, the Mufti, and the barbarians who perpetrated these murders—will not win. So long as our Jewish spirit remains, so too, does that beautiful spark of life, that wonderful compassion.
I am a Jew. I am living proof that Hitler lost his genocidal crusade. And we, the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, will survive this to prove that Hamas loses theirs. I stand with Israel, now and forever. Am Yisrael Chai.