As I sit with my phone in hand, scrolling through the news, I am in disbelief. How could this happen? Yet, in reality, how could it not? Hamas has never hidden its agenda. It is a terrorist organization intent on destroying the State of Israel and all the Jews. It was never a secret. Just read the charter…
Every day as I see the images on television and on social media, I can’t really wrap my head around the depravity. I knew Hamas was capable of this. I knew it because when any Arabs would enter Israel for medical help due to Syria’s war and they were treated with respect and provided with help in Israel, they were surprised by how kind we were to them.
They knew that if the roles were reversed, a Jew who happened to end up in their country would be murdered. We don’t have to go that far as to think a Jew in an Arab country would be in danger because Jews are not allowed to go into most Arab villages in the West Bank due to the threats to their lives. There are huge signs saying it is “Asur,” in English “Forbidden,” to enter these towns with an Israeli license plate. It’s not a secret…
It’s disgusting that the media still feels the need to put this into perspective with two sides having responsibility for the current situation. What kind of perspective can there be when terrorists come into your home, murder your baby, and burn him in his crib? What kind of perspective can there be when you take octogenarians hostage and parade them around as if you are brave and courageous? What kind of perspective can there be when you attack young people at a music festival dedicated to nature and peace, and then you not only massacre them, but rape the women and parade them around as examples of your heroism? There is no rationale in the civilized world for this type of depravity. There is no excuse for such atrocities.
When will the media understand that there is no parallel that would say this is acceptable behavior? They are not protecting their own people; they are bringing the wrath of Israel upon them. These Israeli civilians weren’t hurting anyone. They were sleeping or beginning their day on their Shabbat, on their Simchat Torah. Many on the border consider themselves peaceniks. They want to build relationships, not murder innocent people. I keep hearing the rationale, “What do you expect from 75 years of occupation?” What do they mean, “75 years of occupation?” They’re talking about the existence of Israel, not occupation. They’re saying that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist. There is no other side that can be a reason for mutilating bodies, decapitating children, taking toddlers hostage and holding them in cages. There is no other side.
I applaud President Biden for not mincing words. He said it was pure evil and he was right. I’m glad that the charge d’affairs at the American Embassy in Jerusalem went to witness the carnage. Now she can relate with no bias the depravity of Hamas. The world needs to know. Unfortunately, the age-old hatred that is antisemitism runs deep. This is proof that anti-Zionism is the same as antisemitism. Wake up, world, and smell reality. When Jews talk about rising antisemitism, we talk about it from experience. We’ve been here before…
You may ask, who am I, to think my words matter? I’m an American Jew who has dedicated her life to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I’ve taught at Golda Och Academy, a Solomon Schechter school, in West Orange. I’ve been involved in Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, in supporting our hospitals that treat anyone who comes through their doors, Jew, Muslim, Christian, of any race or religion, my whole life.
I’m active in the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and have been dedicated to working with our partner communities in the south, Ofakim, Merchavim, Kibbutz Erez, Arad. If these names sound familiar, it’s because most of them were infiltrated by the terrorists this weekend.
I’m on the board of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, where I lead the Israel Committee and work to bring Israel education and advocacy to our community.
I am a mother of a young woman who made aliyah less than a year ago, and I have been so proud of her decision to make a life in Israel and I have been so frightened by what’s happening there.
Perhaps I just need to be heard. I think we all need to be heard, and we all need to support our Jewish people and the Land of Israel in whatever way we can. We must be the voice of those who were lost, those who are held hostage, those who are going to war, and those who are home and spending hours in their shelters scared and traumatized. We are relatively safe here in New Jersey, so we need to stand with our people in Israel. Our lives will never be the same.
Stephanie Z. Bonder of West Caldwell, M.A. Ed. is a Jewish educator who teaches throughout the MetroWest community and the National Hadassah network. She is continuing her educational journey by pursuing a masters in Jewish education from the Melton Hebrew University School of Education.