Focus Project: Jewish Fear and Suffering Intensifies in Israel and America

“Hamas is a group whose stated purpose for being is to kill Jews.” – President Biden

As Israel mourns its losses and attempts to rescue hostages, it faces mounting threats from new directions. While a second U.S. carrier fleet steams toward the Middle East, 2,000 American troops are on their way and President Biden’s visit shows solidarity with the Jewish state, Hamas and Hezbollah continue to rain missiles down on Israeli civilians from the South and the North.

What started with a barbaric massacre by Hamas that claimed more than 1,400 lives continues to terrorize Israelis as the Iran-backed terror organization forces Israelis into bomb shelters multiple times a day. Most schools are closed and family life is upended as parents are called up to serve in the defense forces, and family and friends grieve the dead and worry about the hostages.

Hamas is holding hostages from more than 30 countries including babies, women and Holocaust survivors and have yet to allow access to the Red Cross. Hamas members hijacked victims’ social media accounts to issue death threats to Israelis, intensifying the trauma. To root out the terrorists and free the hostages, the Israeli Defense Forces have taken actions to eliminate Hamas in Gaza. Innocent Palestinians are caught in the crossfire as they are used as human shields by the terrorists.

Israel is evacuating civilians from cities on the Lebanese border as Iran-backed Hezbollah – 150,000 rockets pointed at Israeli civilians – appears ready to open a second front against Israel from the north. Israelis living close to the Gaza border also were forced to leave their homes. Violence surges in the West Bank as Hamas-affiliated terrorists present the threat of yet another war front.

American Jews are increasingly living in fear – some feel abandoned by their non-Jewish friends. The fear is most intensely felt on university campuses, but also evident in high schools and local communities. Rallies across the U.S. include celebrations of the vicious slaughtering of Jews and denials of Hamas’s savagery. Some protestors deny that Jews were raped and beheaded – branding it misinformation.



Israeli Muslim doctor used as human shield by Hamas

Dr. Tarek Abu Arar stopped his car to help a distressed motorist, but it turned out to be a Hamas ambush. The terrorists shot him in the chest and only lived because he wore a bullet proof vest. The assailants realized he might be an Arab. They tied the Israeli doctor to a pole in the center of an intersection and forced him to watch them shoot and kill everyone travelling by car for two hours – and then shot him in the leg. The terrorists also thought that having a hostage would provide them with a human shield to prevent an air attack. Eventually the IDF rescued him.


Injured victim of music festival massacre held hostage

Video of 21-year-old French Israeli woman taken hostage during savage massacre at the music festival was released by Hamas to the outrage of the French President Macron who decried it as a degradation “to take innocent people hostage and put them on show in this odious way.” The video shows Mia Schem lying on a bed with her right arm bandaged and a fresh scar clearly visible. Holding a picture of her daughter, Keren Scharf Schem said, “I am begging the world to bring my baby back home. She only went to the festival party to have some fun and now she is in Gaza and she is not the only one.”

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American Jewish students live in fear on campus

“I’ve been encouraged by Jewish professors to hide my Jewish star.” – Lauren Cayle, junior at American University in Washington, D.C.

Cornell University Professor Russell Rickford on the Hamas slaughter: “It was exhilarating. It was energizing. I was exhilarated.” Cornell student Netanel Shapira responded: “You can’t have a situation where you have a professor on this campus who makes comments like it should feel exhilarating to massacre civilians and murder babies. And that he felt exhilarated by it. That’s the first step to the incitement of violence towards a group.” President Martha Pollack: “I am sickened by statements glorifying the evilness of Hamas terrorism. There is no justification for or moral equivalent to these violent and abhorrent acts.”

While some university administrators are taking a strong stand against Hamas and attacks on Jewish students, others have been silent at best or refuse to take a stand in the name of academic freedom. A recent survey reveals that a shocking 84% of Jewish students in the U.S. fear that antisemitism poses a threat to the country.


American Jews question why their non-Jewish friends are silent

American Jew Josh Gilman wrote, Why you might have lost all your Jewish friends this week and didn’t even know it. “When you are Jewish, you are always aware that there is a large population in the world that wants to kill you. Gilman ponders the silence on social media: “Here is what your Jewish friends are wondering right now. So, why didn’t you post this time? Maybe you didn’t say something to your Jewish friends because you truly don’t understand that they consider every slaughtered baby, raped girl and murdered man to be their own family.”


You will hear, watch and read many lies, misrepresentations, what-ifs, what-about-isms and both-sidisms of reality over the coming days and weeks. Here is how you respond:

1. The Hamas Mission: Eliminate Israel, Kill all Jews

President Biden declared in his recent national address that the purpose of Hamas is “the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.” This is the organization’s sole purpose for existing according to the Hamas charter; it is not to improve the lives of Palestinian civilians. It is difficult for most people to comprehend that Hamas terrorists and the Iranian leadership could possibly want to annihilate the Jewish people – even after Hitler and the Nazis tried. Repeatedly, this is what these terrorists demand and repeatedly Israel is forced to make concessions. The massacre in southern Israel was the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. The Jewish state is defending all Israelis – including non-Jews.

2. Hamas does not value human life – Muslim or Jewish

Hamas is an evil force that enthusiastically sacrifices its own citizens. The death toll is rising in Gaza and Hamas is to blame. They sacrifice their own civilians as human shields. Hamas terrorists do not wear military uniforms and they build their terror infrastructure in homes, schools and hospitals. Israel is asking Palestinian civilians living in northern Gaza to head south. Tragically, Hamas wants them to remain.

3. Israel has the right to defend itself

Israel is the only democratic country that is pressured to defend itself for defending itself. In the immediate aftermath of the massacre of more than 1,400 Israelis – from toddlers to Holocaust survivors – the Jewish state has been pressured to show restraint. For Israel, the current war against Hamas is a defensive war for the survival of its nation. But it is not only a war against Hamas. Iran pays, arms and trains Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. All are dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Israelis want to live in peace. Israel has the right – and the obligation – to defend itself from future invasions, rocket strikes and terrorist attacks.

4. Hamas does not share our basic human values

Israel is fighting for a democratic world. The terrorists despise democratic values. Palestinians living in Gaza do not have freedom of speech, assembly, religion or voting. Hamas terrorists are not freedom fighters, they are militant dictators. They do not value human life, dignity or freedom. Any defense of Hamas is defense of slaughter. Any time a democracy is attacked, all democracies need to stand up or hate will spread to other persecuted groups.

5. Hate does not justify hate

Hate does not justify hate, which is why Israel didn’t take immediate action in Gaza. The Jewish state is not seeking revenge, it wants to free hostages, defend its citizens and ensure its people can live in safety and peace. The Hamas ideology reaches far and wide. Every time there is a war against Israel by Hamas, there is an increase in anti-Jewish attacks in America. The ADL is already reporting a stunning new rise in antisemitism. Jewish students are afraid to go outside on university campuses and there is a relentless assault against Jews on social media. This hatred doesn’t just affect Jews. An Illinois landlord fatally stabbed a six-year-old Palestinian-American 26 times, and severely wounded his mother. We must stand up to condemn all forms of hate.


Dispelling Falsehoods, Stating Facts

Here are a few additional facts and reminders to help you respond to criticisms of Israel:

You might hear: Israel is preventing Palestinians from leaving Gaza.

Reality: Many are unaware that Egypt also shares a border with Gaza. The Egypt border with Gaza is closed, preventing refugees from leaving. Egypt is reluctant to open the crossing “trying to avoid a mass exodus of Palestinians from Gaza,” according to the BBC.


You might hear: Israel is committing war crimes against Gazans.

Reality: Hamas is committing war crimes against Gazans. When Hamas launches a rocket from civilian areas directly at Israeli civilians, it is a double war crime against Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas can end this war today by releasing the hostages and laying down their arms. The responsibility is on Hamas.


You might hear: Israel wants to kill Palestinian civilians.

Reality: Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields. Israel provided advance warning to evacuate before military action began in Gaza. Imagine how many innocent lives would have been saved if Hamas had given 24-hours notice.


You might hear: Israel has been and is continuing to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Reality: Ten years ago, Gaza’s population was 1.7 million; today it’s 2.2 million. The West Bank’s population was 2.7 million; today it’s 3.2 million. Population growth is the exact opposite of genocide and ethnic cleansing.


A. Help bring awareness to the innocent civilians abducted by Hamas

#KidnappedFromIsrael is a campaign to help return the hostages back home safely and immediately. download, share and print posters to display in public spaces – billboards, public transit stations, poles or any other spots – to help create a widespread, targeted effort to maximize awareness among the global community.

B. Add your name to petitions demanding the release of all hostages

The National Council of Jewish Women is asking for signatures to the Global Women Leaders’ Letter condemning Hamas’s brutal attack, demanding all hostages receive the humanitarian aid that International Law requires and imploring the release of all hostages. Join Gal Gadot, Noa Tishby and Helen Mirren by adding your name to a vitally important cause.

C. Consider donating and volunteering through community organizations

Donate to organizations providing aid to Israelis:

American Zionist Movement: Emergency relief fund

Combat Antisemitism Movement: Israel emergency support fund (matching donations)

Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America (matching donations)

Israeli American Council: Crisis response

United Hatzalah: Volunteer EMS service


The Focus Project develops and distributes news, background, history and weekly talking points on timely issues to inform individuals and organizations about issues affecting the American Jewish community and Israel, and help readers speak with more consistency and clarity. The editions also provide potential responses for addressing incidents of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. With input from a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations, we focus on that which unites us, rising above political and individual agendas.

Recognizing that hatred of Jews comes in many forms and directions, we strive to address all sources as they arise, and educate our growing audience on topics ranging from inter-religious relations to relevant international developments. From week to week, we may focus on issues arising from the political left, university campuses, from the political right and from institutions, government, and corporations. We don’t try to address all issues in each edition. We hope you will find this information useful in your writing and/or speaking. We are always open to your feedback: