This article was originally published at Tucson.com.
I’m writing this column to give an insight into what many Jewish people are going through. I don’t speak for all Jews, but I do speak for a sizeable swathe of my community. Since the Hamas massacre of Israelis on October 7, Jews have been walking around in a daze. The massacre by Hamas terrorists was fueled by antisemitism and blood lust. Anyone who wants to excuse such butchery is wrong-headed in the extreme. Many of us have been processing our feelings of fear and despair since that terrible day while keeping in our hearts and minds the faces of the Israeli hostages, including women and children, who are still imprisoned in Gaza.
The massacre of October 7 breaks into our consciousness at random times. We might be enjoying an ice cream, waking up from a night of peaceful sleep, spending time with our children, families, or friends, and then we remember. At those moments of realization, we feel guilty for enjoying ourselves while people we know in Israel are dealing with a bleaker, more immediate reality.
At the same time, we have been drawing strength from solidarity amongst the Jewish people and within Israeli society. Practical help from Jewish communities around the world is powerful. Divisions that existed until only recently in Israel have been mostly swept aside as Israelis roll up their sleeves and step in to help their fellow citizens wherever they can.
Again, I don’t speak for all Jews, but I know that many of us fervently want peace with the Palestinians and want innocent Palestinians to be safe from harm. As Jews, we don’t really deal in the currency of despair. Hope is where we live. Kindness is our default. Empathy is our go-to emotion. Our hope has taken a blow. Hearing from people working in Israeli-Palestinian solidarity organizations, we know their hope has taken a blow as well. Nevertheless, many of us will work for peace step by step, but not at the expense of the safety of the Jewish People.
In the meantime, though, we are suffering. We have witnessed a lack of empathy for the victims of the Hamas massacre. We ask that if your first instinct, before Israel even responded militarily to the Hamas massacre, was to say, regarding Israel and Israelis, “It’s terrible, but…”, please ask yourself what led you to that response.
We know there are many good-hearted allies for the Jewish People in Arizona. Now should be the time for you to come forward and help us build a peaceful future together.