It pains me daily to constantly feel betrayed.
Betrayed by my country, the United States, which was supposed to be the land of the free. Betrayed by my homeland, Israel, which was supposed to be the place of safety for the Jewish people. Betrayed by the world, which is supposed to stand for peace.
Being a Jew means being betrayed every single day. Jews no longer can rely on the support of their government. Not when a government is making multiple statements that seem to conflict with one another. How do you say that you support Israel’s right to self-defense, but you also support a two-state solution immediately after a genocidal rampage against innocent civilians? Giving the Palestinians a state after October 7 only provides them with proof that the methods of terror used on October 7 will get them what they want. How do you say that Israel has the right to fight against Hamas, but also say that you are questioning whether to provide Israel with defensive weapons to do the job? How do you say that antisemitism has no place in America, when the bastions of our educational system say that calling for the genocide of the Jews is a contextual right to free speech, not condemned hate speech?
What kind of mixed-up society do we live in when terrorists are honored, and the country that is fighting terrorism is vilified? What kind of bizarre world do we live in where kidnapped children’s posters are torn down as if they are not even human? How can the United Nations secretary general say that October 7 was terrible but “it didn’t happen in a vacuum”?
Of course it didn’t. It happened in a society in which martyrdom is honored. It happened in a society that is educated by UNWRA teachers, who teach that the Jews are scum and must be murdered in order to get them out of the land, “from the river to the sea.” When children are taught to kill and handle weapons while in elementary school, the world is a crazy place.
When I was in Israel last month, I visited K’far Aza. I saw the burnt-out shells of houses that were destroyed after their residents were murdered. I saw the photos of people who were butchered, mutilated, raped, tortured, and kidnapped. What kind of world says that is OK? Is it understandable to viciously attack and kill people who are simply living their lives in a sovereign nation?
The majority of the people Hamas chose to murder were the Israelis who have been working toward peace their whole lives. In what kind of world do people who are known as peaceniks get murdered by the people they are helping? Isn’t that the greatest betrayal?
When I was at Kibbutz Nir Am, I heard from Hadassah doctor Sagi Gavri, who is a pediatric cardiologist. His grandparents were founders of the kibbutz and had always worked toward building bridges with their Arab neighbors. He shared his story of October 7, telling how the kibbutz was able to protect itself and repel the terrorists. The kibbutz lost one member of the security team, but the rest of the kibbutz was spared, due to the help of an army tank team and the members of the kibbutz who fought the terrorists.
He has a young son who can’t sleep alone at night anymore. He has an older son, who was planning to go to the Super Nova music festival, but changed his mind and went to a friend’s house instead. That probably saved his life. He has emotional scars that he’s having trouble healing. He and his family are displaced from their home and trying to move on with their daily lives, but it’s extremely hard.
The only place he could feel like himself was in the operating room, when he was able to save a child’s life. Don’t you think he feels betrayed that such an extreme invasion of his people could have occurred on Israeli soil? Don’t you think he feels conflict in his personal mission to help all children in need of heart health? One of his roles, in addition to his job at Hadassah, is working for a non-profit that provides cardiac surgery to Palestinian children. Wouldn’t you feel betrayed if you had dedicated your life to helping young Palestinian children and you were attacked by Palestinian terrorists?
And then there’s the United Nations, an organization that was founded in 1945 to maintain peace throughout the world after World War II and the Holocaust. The United Nations passed the Partition Plan for Peace in Palestine in 1947. That established a Jewish state and an Arab state in the land that had been Palestine. Today, the United Nations exists as an organization bent on criminalizing Israel’s existence, in spite of being the organization that voted to establish Israel. This can only be seen as betrayal.
The United Nations began with 51 participating nations and has grown to 193 nations. Many of those nations are antisemitic and anti-Israel. More human rights violations have been attributed to Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, than to any other county in the world. How bizarre can it be that the only nation that recognizes women’s rights in the Middle East, and the only nation that allows gays to live open lives in the Middle East, is the only nation that is censured regularly in the United Nations?
After October 7, the United Nations was silent on the crimes committed against women. It took two months before a conference was held to denounce the vicious and barbaric acts committed against women. To this day, the United Nations continues to ask for proof, thus creating the hashtag #MeTooUnlessYou’reAJew.
We Jews have to stand up and continue to shout the truth about what happened on October 7. In spite of all the haters and spreaders of lies and conspiracy theories, we Jews cannot betray our people. We must show the truth of what happened and what is happening around the world. We stand up for other persecuted people around the world and ask them to stand up for us. We are supposed to be allies in fighting oppression.
As Hillel told his students in Pirkei Avot, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”
Stephanie Z. Bonder of West Caldwell, MA. Ed., is a Jewish educator who teaches throughout the MetroWest community and the National Hadassah network. She is continuing her educational journey by pursuing a master’s degree in Jewish education from the Melton Hebrew University School of Education.