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Guestwords: A Response to the Attacks on Israel

Thu, 10/19/2023 - 09:51

In recent days, it has been difficult to process the atrocities that occurred in Israel. The images that came over the TV or online seemed too horrible to be real and too personal to be imaginable.

Some of my friends and family have been more directly affected. A cousin’s husband lost a family member who participated in the all-night dance celebration where so many young adults were attacked. A close friend has started getting funeral notices for her friends’ children.

May the memories of all who have been needlessly taken from us be a blessing.

Hamas’s attack came on a day that should have been filled with celebration and joy — the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, a time for our community to come together in unity as we begin the yearly cycle of reading the Torah. Instead, families in Israel found themselves terrorized in unspeakable ways — fleeing for their lives, hiding in their homes, or taken against their will.

Since then, our community has gathered in anguish and mourning. For me, these gatherings, both in person and online, have provided tremendous solace.

Hamas’s attacks on the Israeli people are unconscionable. This is a terrorist group that does not represent the Palestinian people or have their best interests at heart. Both Israelis and Palestinians will continue to suffer as long as innocent civilians remain targets for terrorists.

It is imperative that we stand resolute in our condemnation of such atrocities. Violence against civilians can never become the norm. We must work tirelessly to ensure that the sanctity of all human life is upheld, that the innocent are protected from the horrors of war, and that no one is subjected to war crimes.

Israelis are not the only victims of these attacks. As Israel fights to disarm and subdue Hamas, past history warns that many innocent Palestinian civilians will suffer. Children on either side of the Gaza border have an equal right to safety and peace. Israel’s counterattack must take into account the civilians in harm’s way.

Already, families in Gaza have lost access to power and water, thousands have been injured or killed, and one million people, including hospital patients and staff, have been told to evacuate northern Gaza. As the U.S. provides aid to Israel, we must work with governments in the region and humanitarian organizations to ensure that civilians receive necessities and are given a way to move to safety.

The dysfunction in Washington cannot prevent us from meeting our responsibilities as a world leader. Congress must put aside petty squabbles and rise to the occasion to provide proper funding for Israel and ensure we’re combating antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate here at home. Since Oct. 7, the F.B.I. has found an increase in threats against Jews and Muslims, including the tragic murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Illinois. It is incumbent on all of us to recognize and reject Islamophobia, antisemitism, and hate regardless of the source. War and terrorism should not drive us to dehumanize others. 

In these dark hours, I know it is difficult to envision a path forward. Yet it is my wish that one day peace will cease to be a distant dream and become a tangible reality within our grasp. In Congress, I will work to make sure the United States fulfills its responsibilities to make that dream possible.

Nancy Goroff, who lives in Stony Brook, is a candidate for New York’s First Congressional District. Until recently she was a professor of chemistry at Stony Brook University.

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