Right now of nationwide tragedy for Israel I, as a longtime Jewish college member and as a human being, really feel sturdy and impassioned sympathy and empathy for harmless victims of barbarous Hamas terrorists who murdered and kidnapped defenseless folks together with infants, young children and aged folks.
I respect the frustrations of the Palestinian individuals who need their very own nation. However what occurred Oct. 7, on the Jewish Sabbath, weren’t acts of resistance however atrocities on the order of the Holocaust and pogroms Jews suffered in Europe. Such inhumane and horrific habits won’t transfer the Palestine neighborhood in the direction of its aim.
On Thursday, Oct. 12, for the primary time in 56 years educating at Cornell, I spent a lot of the time in my “Imagining the Holocaust” class discussing parallel present occasions to our course topic, specifically how the barbaric homicide and kidnapping of Israeli civilians by Hamas resemble the Holocaust in addition to the pogroms in Russia earlier than the Holocaust. I commend my college students for a nuanced, insightful dialogue, one during which we differentiated between these of any ethnicity who commit atrocities and those that are first rate human beings.
I perceive that inside Gaza are harmless victims who don’t have anything to do with terrorism, however I additionally know that the continued existence of a Hamas presence in Gaza devoted to the destruction of Israel is insupportable. We hope to distinguish between Palestine civilians caught within the maelstrom of struggle and Hamas terrorists, though it’s generally onerous to determine those that help and abet terrorism and those that are harmless bystanders.
Israel has no alternative however to destroy Hamas whether it is to keep away from a repeat of those atrocities. No first rate individual can cheer for harmless folks, particularly youngsters, being killed inadvertently by Israeli bombs. However what different alternative does Israel have when Hamas terrorists take refuge in faculties, hospitals and mosques?
I train and write in regards to the Holocaust. I’ve all the time understood the necessity for a two-state answer with an unbiased Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem. I’ve lectured in Israel and have pals and colleagues there, however I’ve additionally visited Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and the West Financial institution (in addition to Egypt which isn’t Arab however principally Muslim). I’ve all the time been considerably caught on an island with regards to Israel: not prepared to signal petitions endorsing unlawful settlements in Palestine territory and anxious that Israel respect the rights of its Arab residents, but additionally unwilling to sentence Israel for defending itself.
I might hope that these of my colleagues who regularly fault Israel however didn’t denounce the Oct. 27, 2019 killing of Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh; who fail to spot that just about each synagogue on this planet, together with these in America and proper right here in Ithaca, requires particular safety; and who’ve repeated, with out supporting proof, common condemnation of Israel’s habits — it doesn’t matter what the provocation from terrorists — would take into account their function in fostering an environment the place anti-Zionism bleeds into anti-Semitism. Right this moment, as I write, rallies towards Israel which frequently develop into blatant celebrations of violence to Jews are occurring every single day.
It behooves instructional leaders, who for essentially the most half have lagged behind political leaders, to denounce what occurred in essentially the most forceful phrases. I’ve the best regard for President Pollack, however her first assertion — together with a number of the different Ivy League Presidents — fell far wanting my expectations for ethical management. Equating Hamas’ habits to pure disasters or unrelated occasions in Armenia, as she did in her assertion, is demeaning what occurred in Israel on Oct. 7. Even her use of the phrase “atrocities” was confined to occasions that had nothing to do with what occurred in Israel.
Not surprisingly, lots of Cornell’s Jewish alumni and college students are outraged at President Pollack’s letter and never absolutely glad by the second which some attribute to strain from Jewish donors and trustees. Neither is she alone amongst college presidents in disappointing not solely her Jewish alumni viewers,
but additionally all those that perceive the importance of Hamas’s sadistic assault on harmless civilians in their very own properties. Lastly, on Oct. 16, 9 days after Hamas’ hideous assault, President Pollack wrote the Cornell Group a letter that started to acknowledge the implications of what was a pogrom.
What occurred on Saturday Oct. 7 in Israel — killing and kidnapping infants, youngsters and the aged — had one thing to do with the fraught and complicated historical past of the Center East. However for Jews it had way more to do with a historical past of the persecution of Jews courting again centuries, together with pogroms, and culminating within the Holocaust.
Daniel R. Schwarz is the Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow within the School of Arts & Sciences. He’s The Cornell Every day Solar’s 2023 visiting columnist. He may be reached at [email protected].
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