A Jewish perspective on the Israel-Hamas war

Consider how your social media posts affect others

The Manitoban does not publish any facts that are not backed up by evidence from a reputable source. However, this article is in the comment section, which means that I can write my opinions and interpret situations how I see fit. I urge you to read this with an open mind, understanding that we probably come from different places and my experiences may be different from yours.

Reading my byline, “Sarah Cohen,” some readers will correctly assume that I am Jewish. I mean, the name is almost as Jewish as it gets.

I want to explain another perspective on the Israel-Hamas conflict from my specific social position. The authors of articles on this topic in recent issues of the Manitoban are not Jewish or Palestinian. While they are free and welcome to have an opinion on the topic, they do not have the same connections to it that I have.

Being Jewish is a hard thing. It has never, ever been easy and I highly doubt it ever will be. We were persecuted and our temples were destroyed by the Romans as far back as over 2,000 years ago and villainized in Shakespearian plays like The Merchant of Venice.

Our movement was restricted by Russians during the Pale of Settlement, and our culture and lives destroyed during eastern European pogroms. Then came Adolf Hitler, who organized the hunt for and torture and mass murder of millions of Jewish people: the Holocaust.

Even now, our temples are the sites of gun violence, and Nazi swastika flags abound. Antisemitism is rampant, and Canada is no exception.

Antisemitism is discrimination, hostility and prejudice against Jews in thought, speech and physical or social action. It is not limited to certain places. According to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, support for Nazis and antisemitism was “widely and openly promoted” by the everyday individual and by political leaders in Canada leading up to and during the Second World War.

In the 1930s and 40s, when Jews were trying to escape Nazi Europe, Canada restricted the number of Jewish people allowed to immigrate to less than 5,000. That is not a lot.

I am not explaining antisemitism to deny the existence of Islamophobia and xenophobia. The Christian world seems to do anything to marginalize the other two Abrahamic religions, sometimes pitting us all against each other.

To put this into perspective, out of the eight billion people on earth, around 15 million are Jewish. That’s not even half of one per cent of the world population. So why, if we make up a literal sliver of the earth’s population, are we hated and persecuted so much?

Since the terrorist group, Hamas, launched a heinous attack on innocent and unprepared Jewish and Israeli civilians a few weeks ago, I’ve seen and heard many things about it on social media, in mainstream media coverage and through conversations in class, at work and with friends and family.

Here is what I want you to know: not all Israelis are Jewish. Not all Jewish people or Israelis support the Israeli government. Neither are all Palestinians part of Hamas.

Many Jews and Palestinians live in diasporas, which means many of us don’t live in our homelands. The unfortunate thing is that we both believe our homelands are on the same, small piece of land.

From my understanding, Israel was established after  the Second World War as a place for the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who were still facing antisemitism to exist in peace. This would be a place that we had originally come from that we could go back to and be safe.

Jewish people want to feel belonging and safety, as do Palestinians.

While the Israel-Palestine conflict has been ongoing and unfair for decades, the current war is not Israel-Palestine. It is Israel-Hamas.

Solutions regarding the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict and tensions are not black and white. While the discussion seems to be only pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, there is still a two-state solution. I wholeheartedly believe that Palestinian civilians should be allowed to move freely with Israeli civilians in a two-state solution.

Let the Jewish people finally have a place to call home and let the Palestinian people live in collaboration with them. Allow the space to be both Israel and Palestine.

Since Hamas attacked Israel, I have seen an immense amount of misinformation and hate from both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel groups. I understand that everyone wants to voice an opinion, whether this situation actually pertains to their person or not. But there are things that are not okay to say or to post. No matter what your stance is, please know that words mean things. What you repost may make your friends feel in danger.

Promoting the destruction of Israel, the only country in the world with a Jewish majority population, is inherently antisemitic.

Promoting the death of innocent Palestinians and Israelis is inherently evil.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings — humans who have friends and family members missing or killed.

Sometimes, what you post on your Instagram story can have huge repercussions. Posting a story that says something that promotes Hamas or the destruction of Israel is directly implying that you promote the obliteration of Jewish people.

Article seven of the original Covenant of Hamas — Hamas’s governing document from 1988 to 2017 — specifically illuminates the terrorist group’s intention to kill Jews. It reads, “the Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees.”

It is evident that Hamas’ intention with its October attack was to kill all Jewish people. Jewish people have already gone through a genocide. Supporting Hamas is supporting another genocide of Jews.

What the Israeli government has done to innocent Palestinian civilians is not okay. War is never okay, but the way of the world is war, apparently. While the Israeli government has commissioned certain acts in Palestine that are inhumane, it is defending itself from a terror attack.

Inform yourselves before you post, make sure your sources are reliable and the facts that you are reposting are accurate. Ensure that what you promote does not put a marginalized group at risk.

Jews have had to grieve repeatedly for the longest time. Often we are forced to start the grieving process over again before we’ve finished the last aggrievement. I understand the pain that all Jews, Israelis and Palestinians are enduring. We are all grieving. Our individual circumstances and histories make this a fight that is extremely emotionally charged, and we all need to approach the discussion around it with kindness, respect and understanding.

Jews in the diaspora often don’t feel safe, especially with popular rhetoric right now, even from our friends. We are all humans trying to get through each day. None of us should die at the hands of another just because of where we come from or which religion we follow.