From the Desk of the Federation Executive Director: With Gratitude 5/17/24

By Shelley Hubal

It’s like getting punched in the gut. Every time I tune into the news, my stomach drops. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why current events are so painful, but I do want to share some of what I have been thinking about regarding the war in Israel and the unrest in the United States. 

First and foremost, I believe that the loss of innocent lives to violence and brutality goes against Jewish values – that all life is valuable, all life should be cherished. 

There are few words to adequately describe the brutality of Hamas’ evil campaign of rape, torture and murder that began on October 7. I find it deeply disturbing that the world seems to have forgotten that Hamas continues to hold more than 130 innocent hostages captive.

If the goal of the protestors on college campuses was to end the war in Gaza, then I am afraid their mission has failed. Instead, they took the attention off Gaza and onto the unrest itself. They have painted Hamas as innocent victims and given them no reason to participate in talks of a cease-fire. Furthermore, they have oversimplified a complex issue that goes back for millennia and imposed a false narrative of “oppressed and oppressor.” The facts are that Hamas is a terrorist organization that uses civilians as human shields. They have diverted humanitarian resources away from Palestinian civilians for years, their aim is to annihilate Israel and they have repeatedly rejected opportunities for peace for decades. It is also a fact that antisemitism is rising at an alarming rate stoked by disinformation and the war. 

Despite the evils of Hamas, like so many Jewish people with whom I have spoken in the last seven-plus months, I am praying that Israel’s government will have the courage to seek a peaceful resolution to the war. The loss of innocent civilians in Gaza is too painful to bear and I have come to believe that we can and must hold two truths: first, Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas terrorists and, second, Israel must do everything possible to stop the bloodshed and get humanitarian aid to those in need. I understand this is a very difficult task, but the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Nobody can say how and when this nightmare will end. Does it end with the release of hostages? Does it end with a cease-fire? Does it end with new leadership? We can only pray that it does end and soon because an end to the violence is the only way to recover from a punch in the gut.