Operation Iron Swords
The people of Israel – still in shock, still burying its dead, still praying for the return of hostages – are united in calling on their government and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to ensure this atrocity can never happen again. Following the terror attacks, Israel declared war on Hamas, announced “Operation Iron Swords,” and began mobilizing to enter Gaza. Israeli leaders from left to right have called for Hamas to be “demilitarized” or “eliminated.” Terminology varies, but there is overwhelming consensus.
The people of Gaza have lived under the Hamas terrorist regime since 2007, when it violently overthrew the ruling Fatah faction. They have since been trapped in an absolutist, Sunni Islamist military state that has no concern for their well-being. Hamas forces carry out appalling crimes against Palestinians: executing dissidents, murdering LGBTQ+ Gazans, and torturing rivals. Instead of building needed infrastructure, Hamas constructed tunnels to attack Israelis.
This leaves Israel in the difficult, heart-wrenching position of amassing its young people (many still teenagers), along with tens of thousands of reservists from across the country, to enter a war it didn’t want. Hamas intentionally hides in hospitals, schools, and under civilian buildings. It launches rockets from densely populated areas, using civilians as “human shields.” This makes the upcoming military operation extremely difficult and dangerous for both Gazan civilians and Israeli soldiers, and there will be unintended casualties.
In preparation, the IDF is dropping countless leaflets and hacking Gaza TV stations to call on residents to evacuate so that it may minimize civilian casualties. In contrast, Hamas has urged Gazans to stay in their homes and has constructed roadblocks to prevent people from leaving. Meanwhile, Egypt is refusing to open its border to refugees. Gazans find themselves in a grim situation.
As we move into a second week of gatherings, services, and vigils, let us add to our prayers the people of Gaza, who have suffered and will continue to suffer until this war ends.
Antisemitism at Home
The community has grown increasingly anxious about rising antisemitism, emanating from near and far. JCRC and the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund are in constant communication with law enforcement. We have stressed to officials that foreign events impact our community locally, and have encouraged them to step up their patrols and get to know their local Jewish community leaders.
At this time, we are advising our Jewish community organizations to enhance security by maintaining heightened awareness and incorporating greeters or volunteers into security plans. However, in the absence of credible threats, we are advising agencies to remain open. Of course, every parent and every agency must decide what is in the best interest of their families and communities. Federation and JCRC will continue to provide periodic updates and guidance as the situation evolves.
The global “day of rage” called for last Friday by a Hamas leader echoes similar rallying cries when Israel has fought Hamas and Hezbollah. These pronouncements have not prompted significant violence outside the Middle East and are part of a broad information warfare effort that news and social media inadvertently amplified.
We are also deeply disturbed by the rhetoric coming from pro-Hamas rallies, including from yesterday’s rally in downtown San Francisco that left graffiti along Market Street reading “Death to Israel” and “Kill all Settlers.” In response last night, our CEO, Tye Gregory, spoke with Mayor London Breed, who quickly called on SFPD to remove the graffiti and investigate this crime.
We urge the community to stay away from these rallies. Those choosing to participate in counter-protests should do so peacefully, without engaging in debates or altercations. We must take the high road.
We also urge schools, universities, employers, and our civic leadership to understand that emotions will be high and people will be scared and hurting. They need to respond with compassion, not political rhetoric, and need to enforce zero tolerance for acts of antisemitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of hate. We need not fight this war at home, and leadership of institutions have a responsibility to create safe environments.
Use our page of resources and guidance for your engagement with elected officials, schools, businesses, and the community, as well as a list of credible sources.
Community members are advised to utilize the ADL’s incident report form if they witness or experience antisemitism.
For those in our community who are struggling emotionally during these painful times, we are here to offer expert counseling and support. If you or someone you care about needs assistance, please call JFCS’ Bay Area Critical Helpline at 415-449-3700.
Donate to the emergency fund of the Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund to provide urgently needed assistance to the people of Israel.