For the Jewish people and for the residents of Israel, this is a terrible time.
Frankly, I am angry! I am angry because I’ve seen too many pictures of Israeli bodies. I am angry because I’ve seen dead children, dead grandmas and grandpas.
I am angry because I saw a picture of dead young people who went to a concert in the desert. Terrorists flew in hang gliders and slaughtered them.
I am angry because more than 260 of those precious young people were buried on Monday. All they had wanted to do was celebrate music! Instead, they were buried as their brothers and sisters, their parents and their grandparents, wept over their graves.
I am angry because there are so many hostages of all ages—all ages—from a holocaust survivor pulled out of his wheelchair to elderly old women, to babies and teenagers. Pictures of the charred remains of an infant were shown to Secretary of State Blinken.
I am angry because there’s a film of a six-year-old Israeli boy standing in a street in Gaza, barefoot crying out the words “Ima. Ima!” “Mommy. Mommy” as he’s being beaten, harassed and spit upon by Arab children in Gaza.
I wonder how someone could allow their children to torture a child in such a way. I am appalled that another person filmed with pride this shameful incident. I am even more appalled that that person would put the video of the torture on social media apparently for “marketing” purposes. I have a difficult time believing that this could be the religious ethics of such a person.
I am also angry that 31 student organizations at Harvard put out a joint statement in favor of Hamas.
What I am the angriest about is the moral bankruptcy of so many in the world, including in this country, which seeks in some way to say, “The Jews had it coming!”
For Jews, what we are seeing is a horrific expression of antisemitism before our very eyes. The latest statistics reveal that more than 1,300 people are dead, thousands injured and 97 people have been taken hostage.
As a teacher of Jewish history, I can tell you that the last time that so many innocent Jews perished in one day was during the Nazi holocaust.
Some will say that for Israel, this was its 9/11. Proportionally had this happened in the United States, I believe the slaughter would have been close to 40,000 dead!
All of this happened in territory that was not occupied. Israel withdrew from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. We now know that the attack was two years in the making.
We are going to have to be patient as Israel tries to solve the problem of murderous Hamas terrorism.
Frankly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very complicated. I consider myself part of the Israeli left. Although I believe Palestinians have real grievances against Israel, there is no justification for any group to purposely kill innocent civilians of any age or to take them as hostages.
I do not think Hamas represents all Palestinians, but the willingness of many to justify their cruel and evil behavior is outrageous. The murder of Jews or anyone else is not justifiable.
I sincerely hope that the hostages will be returned, and that Hamas in Gaza will surrender to save the lives of the innocent civilians whom they are using as human shields.
Israel is at war and it is not a war of choice. As far as the Jewish community is concerned, in our hearts and souls, we need to understand that this is not eighty years ago. Eighty years ago, a Jew could be killed with impunity.
Those days are over! The day is over when one can kill a Jew and say to us that we should “turn the other cheek.” I am sure that Israel will win, but it will take some time.
Despite the terrible horrific times we are experiencing, we have not lost our hope that there can be peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Indeed, even now, it is not only our hope. It is our prayer!
Editor’s Note: This article has been amended to reflect confirmed details in the ongoing Israeli- Hamas war. It was initially reported that infants were beheaded but this has not been independently confirmed or verified.
Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he served as rabbi from 1995 to 2021. Guttman is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel.