Before October 7 I was different than I am now. Perhaps it was naivete, perhaps hope, but I believed the world finally recognized Israel, with all its blemishes, as a worthy place. I thought that what Israelis had created in an inhospitable land, lacking the underground wealth of its neighbors, would be recognized for its achievements in medicine, technology, business, the arts, and yes, even military prowess. I thought that Israel would be viewed with respect and acceptance. I thought that centuries of persecution and discrimination were coming to an end, and I thought many of the all too common claims of antisemitism were excessive.
No more. The actions of Hamas and the world’s response to it have shattered that view.
Israel, with its many faults, was a hopeful place where women were honored and treated with respect, where gays lived openly compared to in neighboring countries, where Black Jews in the diaspora were brought into the nation, and where democracy thrived. Diverse views were abundant and tolerated.
Then Hamas, with its theological doctrine of intolerance, attacked in a savage, inhuman assault, and Israel suffered the worst day in its history. Blind hatred spared no one. Hamas invaders took glee in stabbing and shooting the very women they were raping. Babies were beheaded. Families were tied together and burned and forced to watch their loved ones murdered and mutilated before their eyes. Hundreds, including babies and old women, were taken as hostages to be used as future pawns. The doctrine that was driven into the minds of the Gazan attackers had been taught to them from birth and demanded a single state, not coexistence, from the river to the sea. It demanded the killing of all Jews.
When Israel recovered from its colossal intelligence failure, it defended itself aggressively. Sadly, many Gazan civilians died in that response, something that has been documented daily by the world’s media. Since Gaza had built an underground network of tunnels from which to attack Israel over the years, only bombing could dismantle them. All the concrete, steel, and infrastructure that could have been used to better the lives of Gazans was used instead to build the tunnels. But the optics, amplified by false claims, were terrible. So now there is a demand for a ceasefire in much of the world. There is scant demand for the elimination of Hamas or even the release of hostages. Hamas has openly said that it intends to continue its attacks in the future, but the world ignores that, motivated only by the poignant pictures of civilian suffering in Gaza.
The world response has stunned me. I thought antisemitism had largely receded, but I was clearly wrong. Israel, and Jews everywhere, have been treated differently and held to a different standard than the rest of the world.Cities had huge rallies supporting Hamas. Elite university students claimed that Israel alone was responsible for the conflict. These responses were absent when Russia invaded Ukraine, when Syria killed half a million of its countrymen, when Chinese forced Uighurs into concentration camps, and when North Korea threatened the world with a nuclear holocaust. Only Israel and the Jews merited this response.
Women’s groups, which had been supported heavily by Jews, were relatively silent. Many Black groups and liberals, motivated by the simplistic division of the world into colonizers and colonized, abandoned Jews and Israel, which had shared their basic views. Even gays, who had enjoyed freedom in Israel and had been persecuted in Arab lands, formed Gays for Palestine. The double standard was evident everywhere.
As to the current dominance of intersectional views, people conveniently forgot history. They forgot that the land being contested was conquered and colonized by the Ottoman Empire, which sided with the Axis powers in the world wars that led to its own dissolution. They forgot the Holocaust. They forgot the centuries of persecution of the Jews in Europe and limits to their freedom, which motivated them to seek a Jewish state where they could be secure.
While having sympathy for the 700,000 Palestinians who left or were forced from Israel after its establishment, they forgot the 800,000 Jews who subsequently were forced out of the Arab lands in which they had lived in for centuries. While these Jews now represent the majority of the population in Israel, which welcomed them, they forgot that the camps created by Arab nations were established because they refused to integrate the Palestinians into their own countries. They forgot the one-sided U.N. approach to the plight of the two refugee populations, which naturally resulted from the nearly 60 Muslim nations in that body compared to the one Jewish nation. They forgot that the U.N. divided Palestine into Jewish and Arab states at the same time. They forgot that Israel accepted that division — and five Arab armies attacked Israel the next day. They forgot the many attempts at a peaceful solution in Israel that Arabs rejected. They forgot the decimation of the Christian population in the Mideast and the displacement, among others, of the Copts in Egypt and Maronites in Lebanon.
My hope for a balanced view of the current situation has been shattered by this response.
We are alone, again.
David Rocker of Short Hills is the founder of the hedge fund Rocker Partners. He and his wife, Marian, are philanthropists active in the Jewish community.