This content is developed by The Focus Project in partnership with Mercaz USA. The Focus Project distributes weekly news and talking points on timely issues concerning Israel and the Jewish people, including antisemitism, anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of Israel. It represents a consensus view across a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations. Mercaz USA recognizes and respects the diversity of views on these issues among its readers and the community at large.
It’s important that the Jewish people know Christians stand with them because the Jewish people stand for life, they stand for democracy, they stand for freedom. – Mark Moore, Christian pastor from Chicago at the March for Israel Rally in Washington, D.C.
The global surge of hatred toward Jews since October 7 – fueled by unbridled bigotry and the denial of Israel’s right to exist – has cast a new shadow on Jewish history. Amid that darkness, many bright lights have also emerged – support of Jews and Israel shines brightly against a backdrop of hate and propaganda. As many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving this week, these heroes, supporters and champions deserve our deep gratitude and sincere appreciation.
March for Israel Rally, Washington, D.C.
The pro-Israel rally on November 14 serves as a reminder to Jews worldwide that we are not alone, with keynote speakers ranging from U.S. government officials and celebrities to campus activists and loved ones of the hostages. The crowd brought together American Jews, Christian supporters of Israel, and a diverse blend of supporters gathering in unity from across the country to support Israel, demand the release of hostages and condemn antisemitism. Nearly 300,000 people gathered on the National Mall – the same number of Israeli reservists who left their families to fight for their country.
Strong bi-partisan political support was led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican. U.S. Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt stated from the rally podium: “Hate is not a zero-sum game, hate and violence directed at any member of our society because of who they are is un-American and wrong.”
Among the speakers at the rally, Rachel Goldberg, mother of kidnapped hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, shared chilling words that are hard to forget: “We hostage families have lived the last 39 days in slow-motion torment. We all have third-degree burns on our souls. Our hearts are bruised and seeping with misery. But the real souls that are suffering are the hostages …”
Famed Israeli singers Ishay Ribo and Omer Adam performed, offering strength and hope by sharing encouraging words in Hebrew and leading the crowd aloud in reciting Psalm 121 – that conveys a sense of trust in G-d’s care and protection throughout life’s journey. They also sang in tribute to Zaka members – Israel’s medical first responders at many scenes of the massacres helping to locate and collect dead bodies and treating the wounded.
At pro-Israel rallies across the country, a sea of both Israeli and American flags wave together in solidarity, but these are the same flags burned at pro-Hamas rallies where only Palestinian flags are flown. A pro-Hamas rally celebrating hate and angrily promoting murder stands in stark contrast to the rally for Israel that promoted unity and solidarity. This event was held a few days after the ADL released a report on the shocking spike in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. since October 7 – citing a 316% increase from last year during the same time frame.
President Biden unwaveringly stands with Israel
Receiving both staunch criticism and unwavering praise, President Biden has steadfastly stood strong in his support of Israel and reminds Americans of the U.S. commitment to remain Israel’s ally. In a letter signed by 137 former U.S. officials, Biden’s support of Israel is applauded by others in his party. The letter also expresses gratitude for the president’s statement following the Oct 7 attack by Hamas: “My commitment to Israel’s security and the safety of the Jewish people is unshakeable. The United States has Israel’s back. And I have yours as well, both at home and abroad.”
The U.S. sends $3.8 billion a year in aid to its ally Israel, and the Biden Administration has petitioned Congress for an additional $14.3 billion. Since the Hamas war on Israel began, the Biden Administration sent two aircraft carrier strike forces, the USS Ford and USS Eisenhower, to the eastern Mediterranean, including at least one guided missile cruiser and five destroyers along with support frigates and are staffed by at least 4,500 U.S. Navy sailors. The Administration also has worked tirelessly to broker peace and for the release of the hostages held by Hamas.
“We stand firmly with the Israeli people as they defend themselves against the murderous nihilism of Hamas,” Biden stated, adding: “The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own and a future free from Hamas. I, too, am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children.”
Volunteers in the U.S. and Israel – a united network of support
There have been countless hundreds of thousands of volunteers in the U.S., in Israel and around the world working tirelessly day and night to coordinate logistics and organize intricate networks of resources. In the U.S., entire relief operations formed virtually overnight. Volunteers came together to provide vitally needed medical supplies and tactical gear for soldiers.
In Bergen County, NJ, one organization sent more than 3,500 duffle bags filled with donated supplies for IDF soldiers have been shipped to Israel. More than 60 tons of medical supplies and humanitarian relief have been sent along with 1,700 letters and drawings from NJ school children and individuals thanking IDF soldiers. Through the website ShoppingforIsrael.com more than $250,000 has been raised and orders placed, which are delivered directly to IDF soldiers.
Dozens of families have still chosen to immigrate to Israel amid a war and call it their new home. Christian Zionist cowboys have flown in to help with farms where the farmers are serving as soldiers. In one month, 100 young Jewish men and women from the diaspora who have decided to immigrate to Israel will put on their uniforms and join the IDF.
Campus hate, now under investigation
Jewish students on many university campuses across the U.S. have feared going to class and feel unsafe walking to their own dorms. The ADL reported that it has tracked 124 incidents of antisemitism on college campuses in the past month following October 7, compared with only 12 incidents during the same period last year. Even before the Hamas attacks, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has faced bipartisan criticism for its failure to process and address the backlog of antisemitism complaints in a timely way amidst rising campus antisemitism.
Cornell, Columbia and UPenn are among the seven schools now facing an Education Dept. probe, with five of the incidents being allegations of antisemitism on campus. Complaints were filed by Jewish on Campus and The Louis Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. The Dept. also held a virtual hour-long briefing with Jewish organizational leaders to combat campus antisemitism. The department’s recent opening of several new antisemitism investigations at UPenn, Wellesley and Cornell sends an important signal that it is finally taking swift action to address the post-October 7 surge of campus antisemitism.
“Today in America we give antisemitism no sanction, no foothold, no tolerance, not on campus, not in our schools, not in our neighborhoods, not in our streets or the streets of our cities. Not in our government. Nowhere. not now, not ever.” – Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism
As the nation celebrates Thanksgiving, gratitude is owed to all supporters of Israel and the Jewish people. Thoughts and prayers are with the families of hostages and all civilian casualties.
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1. Jews have friends and allies across America and around the world
There are many supporters of the Jewish people from various backgrounds, religions and cultures that proudly stand in support and solidarity with the Jewish people. While it has unfortunately become easier to identify those who hate Jews in public and on social media, even though they are loud voices, they are not the only voices. Even when it feels hopeless, we are not in this alone. We need our non-Jewish friends more than ever to take a stand and speak out loudly and publicly against hatred of Jews.
2. Gratitude has a deeper meaning this Thanksgiving
In the face of sadness and loss – kidnapped men, women, children and elderly, murdered families, raped women, burned babies – Thanksgiving this year will take on a somber tone for many Americans and yet it still has great meaning. We can still be grateful for the gifts of life all around us. Everyone who knows where their loved ones are right now has a reason to be grateful. Everyone who gets to say ‘good morning’ to their spouse or partner has a reason to be grateful. Everyone who gets to tuck their children in at night has a reason to be grateful. Gratitude and hope are two things we must all safeguard and hold tightly. Those serve as anchors in the roiling waters of uncertainty.
3. Jewish pride is stronger than ever
We must recognize that what unites us is greater than anything that has separated us. We can grieve together with one global heart and then get back up, defeat Israel’s enemies and continue shining the light into the world. Jews everywhere can hold proudly to their heritage, traditions, faith and culture because it’s what no terrorist can take from us. We can wear a Star of David necklace in public and not live in fear. We can keep the mezuzah on the door in a neighborhood where ‘from the river to the sea’ is shouted from the street corner. We can proudly and fully embrace who we are. We can be Jews.
Here are some questions and topics that may come up around your Thanksgiving table and some ways to respond to them:
You might hear: Israel needs to prove Hamas’ actions
Reality: The evidence of the horrific and atrocious acts committed by Hamas on October 7 are documented and were filmed and posted on social media by the Hamas terrorists themselves. The Iran-backed organization proudly boasted about the murders committed and publicly celebrated the Jewish massacre. It is not Israel’s obligation to prove that it has buried its dead and is weeping over its kidnapped hostages. Israel also should not be forced to defend its right to protect the safety of its citizens. October 7 is not a fantasy. It’s a nightmare that Israel is constantly re-living and must keep re-telling lest the world forget it happened and deny it.
You might hear: Israel targets hospitals, schools and residential buildings
Reality: Hamas has built an extensive network of tunnels and military infrastructure below Gaza hospitals, schools and homes. IDF video broadcast by the BBC and most American networks and cable channels, showed tunnel entrances and passageways under Al-Shifa hospital. IDF soldiers have uncovered weapons stockpiles hidden in children’s bedrooms, grenades stored behind the MRI machine at the hospital and an anti-tank missile was found beneath an infant’s crib.
You might hear: Israel fabricates facts and exaggerates numbers
Reality: When Hamas, a known terrorist organization, reports any number of Gazans killed or rockets fired, its claims are often immediately cited as fact by some news media, university professors and social media influencers. Hamas never distinguishes between civilian and military casualties, and even its claim that a rocket fired by Israel struck a hospital has been disputed and likely caused by an Islamic Jihad misfire. Israel is a democratic sovereign state yet bears the burden of proof to verify every number, defend every action and prove every statistic. Israel lives under a double standard not applied to other nations.
You might hear: “From New York to Gaza, globalize the intifada” is a peaceful chant.
Reality: This is a call to commit violent attacks against Jews around the world. The contemporary meaning of the Arabic-word intifada is a rebellion, uprising or resistance movement. This includes the notorious Second Intifada by Palestinian terrorists – marked most notably by bus bombings against Israeli civilians. Hundreds of pro-Hamas supporters recently protested in NY, repeating this chant. It is a call to assault and intimidate Jews around the world. We have already seen what this means in CA when a Jewish man was attacked and died at a dueling pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian rally.
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A. Support those who stand with Israelis
Many organizations, businesses and groups around the world are showing support and solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. Attend rallies, shop in stores that support Israel, get involved where you live and magnify the impact. A pro-Israel apparel line is sending part of its proceeds to Israeli soldiers and evacuated families. One Family, is a non-profit organization in Israel that works to empower victims of terror – providing resources and bringing them together in one national, self-supportive family. In California, Eagle’s Wings Stand With Israel Rally: Christians Support Israel is being hosted on Sunday, Dec. 3, to bring together Christians and Jews in solidarity and support of Israel.
B. Connect with organizations that support students on campus
Club Z, Campus Hillel chapters, Jewish on Campus and Alums for Campus Fairness are a few of many organizations that provide support and resources to Jewish students ostracized or targeted on campus for being Jewish.
Hillel International, ADL, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP recently announced the Campus Antisemitism Legal Line (CALL), a free legal protection helpline for students who have experienced antisemitism. With antisemitism on campus reaching all-time highs since Oct. 7, this new resource comes at a critical moment for the Jewish community. Any student, family, faculty, or staff member can go to the CALL website or text “CALLhelp” to 51555 to report incidents of antisemitic discrimination, intimidation, harassment, vandalism, or violence that may necessitate legal action.
C. Make your statement. Use your voice and actions to speak out!
Please use these facts and talking points in your everyday conversations to increase support for Jews and Israelis, counter the deniers and raise awareness and support for the hostages. Use your voice, your talents, your skills, your connections and your creativity to make your statement in support for the Jewish people. Skydivers form a Star of David mid freefall in support of Israel. A NYC artist dedicates painting to IDF soldiers. Yeshiva University Basketball team wore t-shirts with photos of hostages when playing NYU, where some students have torn down Israeli hostage fliers. How will you make your statement to support Israel?
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