It’s tough to be a Jew these days

In my 57 years, it has never been harder being Jewish than it is now.

Tony Zinman is an organizer of Tucson Jews for Justice. He also is a public defender and Democratic political activist.

Last year, our Arizona Jewish Community had to contend with antisemitism coming from the Republican general election statewide candidates. It continues today in the white supremacist antisemitic ramblings of Republican leaders Paul Gosar and Wendy Rogers.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas atrocities in Israel, our community has had to deal with a major rise in antisemitism from the far left, with incidents such that I have never seen in the United States.

Oct. 7 was an extremely traumatic day for Jews around the world, with 1,300 civilians killed and 240 hostages kidnapped. The pictures of Hamas terrorists executing Jews and parading a naked Jewish woman through the streets of Gaza with crowds cheering hit our hearts hard. Hearing the stories of Jewish women getting raped and babies burned alive brought our worst fears to light. It was the worst loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust.

One reason this hits our community hard is that we have grown up with the stories of the 6 million people killed in Europe because they were Jewish. My wife grew up with grandparents who were both in Auschwitz and met in a displaced-persons’ camp after the war. Her grandfather lost his first wife and sons.

Spiritual homeland since 10th-century BCE

I have never been to Israel myself, but I, like most Jews, feel a very strong connection. It has been our spiritual homeland since the 10th-century BCE, and there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Israel from ancient times to today. It gives us a place to go if things become unbearable elsewhere.

Hamas is very open about its policy towards Jews. Its 1988 charter states the “Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them.” On Oct. 24, 2023, Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad, said on TV, “We must teach Israel a lesson and we will do this again and again” (referring to the Oct. 7 massacre).

Our Jewish Community has been grateful for the strong support Israel has received from the Biden Administration and our Arizona Senate and House delegations.

However, we are seeing our fellow Americans on the far left publicly support Hamas and justify the horrible atrocities committed on Oct. 7. While the blood was still drying after Oct. 7,

  • The Democratic Socialists of America had a pro-Hamas rally in New York where speakers joked about “the resistance” killing “hipsters.”
  • People are tearing down pictures put up of the hostages being held by Hamas.
  • A professor at Cornell University called the Hamas Oct. 7 attack “exhilarating and energizing.”
  • At an anti-Israel rally at Tulane University, Israel supporters were punched, and one got a broken nose.
  • There have been many other incidents where Jewish students were harassed and threatened just for being Jewish.

Slogan means “get rid of all the Jews in Israel

Here in Tucson, just three days after the Hamas atrocities, a group of about 70 pro-Palestinian protesters were walking around downtown loudly chanting slogans. (This occurred just before 1,000 of us gathered at the local Jewish Community Center to mourn the Israeli deaths). On the following Friday, there was a loud pro-Palestinian rally at Old Main.

People, of course, have a right to protest, but when they are chanting “From the river to the sea” as they were at Old Main, that means to get rid of all the Jews in Israel. It naturally makes Jewish people quite uneasy to hear those chants.

This is a tough time for the world. Nobody likes seeing civilians killed in Gaza, but Hamas is still holding Israeli hostages, firing missiles, and using the Gaza population as human shields. As Hillary Clinton recently said, a ceasefire would be “a gift to Hamas.” So Hamas must be removed, and the only way is for Israel to confront them in Gaza.

Our Jewish community would just ask for your understanding and support during this difficult time.

This editorial was first published in the Arizona Daily Star.

5 thoughts on “It’s tough to be a Jew these days”

  1. I think we all need to consider that the current Israeli government does not represent all the Jewish people. Just as Hamas does not represent all Palestinians – there has been no democracy in Gaza for many years, and Hamas is supported by less than 30% of Gazans.

    We need to be very careful not a assign moral responsibility to entire groups from the actions of specific state and non-state actors who have may have engaged in what many, rightly or wrongly, label as terrorist acts, barbarism, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, and are currently engaged in armed conflict in which innocent civilians, both Israelis and Palestinians, are being exposed to deprivation, injury and death.

    We should not generalize about any group or organization other than the actual belligerents in this conflict, and even that can be tricky. We must not justify hatred or bigotry against whole groups of people based on this horrible situation for which many parties bear some degree of culpability. Perhaps the best we can all hope for, and perhaps all agree is best, is for the belligerents to reach whatever their justifiable war aims may be in a manner that minimizes the death and injury and suffering of all innocent non-combatants.

  2. So Rivko, you SAY you condemn Hamas, but you ARE advocating they remain in power in Gaza. There SHOULD be a ceasefire once Hamas releases the hostages, and their leaders surrender to an international tribunal. But you are asking for a unilateral cease fire. Do you understand that If Israel puts down their weapons, Hamas will remain in power. (There actually was a ceasefire, and Hamas broke it on 10/7). So if you get what you are advocating, the 230 hostages will continue to be held by Hamas, Hamas will continue to lob missiles at Israel, and Hamas will continue to massacre Israeli civilians as they have pledged to do. It is unfortunate that Hamas built their weapons facilities and command centers in civilian centers and under hospitals and schools. But bombing those facilities is the only way to get them out of power. According to a NYT article out today, “Hamas leaders say they waged their Oct. 7 attack on Israel because they believed the Palestinian cause was slipping away, and that only violence could revive it” Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh has said that his terror group needs the “blood of the women, children and elderly” of Gaza in order to “awaken… resolve”. So that is what you are supporting with your call for a ceasefire

  3. I am Jewish. I condemn Hamas, of course!!!! I also condemn Israel, a nation state with all the evils/compromises and attempts to be a democracy, for it’s increasing swing toward authoritarianism,it’s long history of arbitrary arrests of Palestinians and brutal treatment of such, its refusal to move toward a two state solution, it’s allowing the reactionary ultra orthodox settlers in the west bank to encroach on Palestinian land/killing and hurting Palestinians (cause they say ‘our god….NOT my version of a Jewish concept of justice and love & tikkun olam=repair the world) gave us this land 5000 + years ago. I stand with T’ruah, Jewish Voice for Peace and other Jewish/Palestinian and ‘whoever’ groups both in Israel and outside who have been demonstrating in various places (NYC/Statute of Liberty) saying ‘not in my name’ and calling for a cease fire, as much humanitarian aid as possible & a commitment by Israel to truly allow the creation of a two state solution or a one state secular democracy. All of human history is full of one people invading and killing off other peoples; that does NOT make it humane or just. As the cliche goes, we must either learn from the past (something the US is struggling mightily to do with our history of racism and Native American genocide or the killing continues. (Not very articulate but I felt I had to reply!!) Rivko Knox, Phx,

    • So then you support Hamas remaining in power in Gaza and continuing to hold 230 Jewish hostages, and shooting rockets at Israel. You also must support Hamas further attacks on Israel and they threaten. Today, a NYT article quoted a Hamas leader saying Hamas leaders say they waged their Oct. 7 attack on Israel because they believed the Palestinian cause was slipping away, and that only violence could revive it.

    • The way I see it Netanyahu bears the lion’s share of Israeli responsibility as he shut out the Palestinian Authority and boosted Hamas. “Settlers” illegally moving into the West Bank displacing the Palestinians who were already there and generally treating the Palestinians like something my dog left outside doesn’t exactly help matters. And Hamas is terrorist garbage.

      If it were up to me I would can Netanyahu (who, like the VTY) clings to power to avoid prison. Give the West Bank back to the Palestinians provided they get rid of Hamas. Meanwhile IDF surgically takes out Hamas leaders, especially those who instigated the terrorist attacks along with the participants and both sides go for a realistic two state solution…something Netanyahu vehemently opposed.

      One would think national conservative leaders would learn from our post 9/11 response, laying waste to Afghanistan when it was our “friend” Saudi Arabia where the terrorists came from. I’ve heard the Taliban offered to hand bin Laden & Al Queda over but Bush the Lessor’s administration turned them down. They just had to get their war on.


What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: