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Opinion: We are witnessing — and experiencing — a horrifying amount of antisemitism

My mother used to tell me that antisemitism is one of the oldest hates, and it never goes away. But I never thought I would be seeing the same thing in 2023.

(Francisco Seco | AP) Photographs of people who were abducted during last week's unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel are fixed to a wall in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023.

My mother died in April. I miss her terribly. On Oct. 7, Israel was savagely attacked by Hamas terrorists. In many instances, the atrocities were broadcast by the terrorists themselves. People have had to see their friends and family members in hijacked livestreams. Officials report seeing beheaded babies, raped women and mutilated bodies.

What is almost more shocking than the atrocities committed by Hamas was the almost instantaneous celebration of the murders by academics, students and activists. In London. In Paris. In New York. On college campuses all over the United States. On the streets of Salt Lake City. And this was happening on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 when Israelis were still burying the dead, still trying to identify the mutilated bodies.

Words matter, and calling out antisemitism when we see it is vitally important.

The amount of antisemitism that we are witnessing and experiencing is horrifying. And, for the first time since she passed, I am glad my mother isn’t alive to see this.

People who have no idea of what is actually happening, no knowledge of history — or even of facts — are blaming Israel. As if Israelis deserved this barbarous attack.

There are people who say, “It’s complicated.” No, it isn’t. Hamas is a jihadist terror cult who carried out a planned massacre and took hundreds of hostages. Most of them were non-combatants from a sovereign country. There is nothing “complicated” about this. It is pure evil.

I remember my mom telling me what it was like growing up in Los Angeles during World War II, when the kids would goose-step around the classroom Nazi-like and make fun of her because she was a Jew. Her teachers turned a blind eye. She said she was fearful to wear a Star of David necklace because of how dangerous it could be to appear outwardly Jewish. She used to tell me that antisemitism is one of the oldest hates, and it never goes away. But truthfully, I never thought I would be seeing the same thing in 2023. In Utah.

Our synagogues had bomb threats called in on Oct. 8. We need to have armed guards at our buildings. My daughter’s “friends” on Instagram ask her why Israel is occupying Gaza, and what did they expect?

Israel has not “occupied” Gaza. In fact, Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005. Hamas, an ISIS-like terror organization, was fully in control of Gaza after “winning” the election in 2007. This quasi-government did nothing at all to actually govern. They did nothing to improve the lives of the citizens of Gaza. They are brutalizing the people of Gaza. Hamas has absolutely no due-process, no freedom of the press and no human rights. They repress women, they outlaw same-sex relationships, they kill any Palestinian opposition and they use children as human shields. LGBTQ+ rights in Gaza? Non-existent.

They took lots (and lots) of international money — not to build schools or hospitals or playgrounds or universities — to build a huge network of underground tunnels and stockpile rockets and weapons. They tore up water pipes and used them as rockets. They took water, fuel and food away from the citizens and used it to further their terror network. Gazans living under Hamas rule are deeply suffering.

And Hamas talks openly and brazenly about killing all Jews. Period.

This attack was not about creating a state for the Palestinian people. This was not about negotiating for a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. This attack was simply about murdering Israelis.

I miss my mother every day, but I am somewhat comforted by the notion that she is not alive to witness the overwhelming antisemitism that has bubbled up to the surface. Although she probably wouldn’t be surprised.

Michele Sackheim Wein

Michele Sackheim Wein is a retired periodontist, wife and mother who lives in Utah.

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