No Hate in Our States

By Myra Clark-Siegel

Tough Questions about Israel and Hamas

100+ Days. 

More than 100 agonizing, unbearable days have passed since October 7 when over 240 people were kidnapped – stolen – from Israel and taken below ground as hostages in Gaza, in addition to the murder of over 1,200 Israelis by Hamas on October 7. 

Babies, children, teens, young women and men, elderly, Holocaust survivors. Jews, Muslims, Christians. People from over 40 countries. Murdered and kidnapped. 

And for one reason only: virulent, rabid hatred of Jews and Israel. 

Young women, teens, and children violated in the most horrific ways, and not a word about many of them. That is the continued depravity of Hamas. No end to this nightmare is in sight.

Over the past few months, we at AJC (American Jewish Committee) have been asked to present and engage in discussions with various communities on “Tough Questions About Israel and Hamas”. These are important as so much misinformation and disinformation is being communicated about Israel, both in mainstream media and particularly on social media.

Here are some questions and answers about Israel and Hamas: 

Does Israel occupy the Gaza Strip?

Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip and has had no permanent presence there for nearly two decades.

From 1948 to 1967, the Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt, which took control of the territory during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. As a result of the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel gained control over the Gaza Strip from Egypt. 

In 2005, Israel, overcoming huge political pushback, unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, dismantling its settlements and military installations in the name of peace and in hopes of creating a better future. 

What does Hamas’ 1988 Covenant and its revised 2017 Charter say about Israel and Jews? (Hint: they call for the destruction of Israel)  

Released on August 18, 1988, the original Hamas covenant defines Hamas’s genocidal intentions. The following translation is by Muhammad Maqdis for the Islamic Association for Palestine. 

“Our battle with the Jews is long and dangerous, requiring all dedicated efforts. It is a phase which must be followed by succeeding phases, a battalion which must be supported by battalion after battalion of the divided Arab and Islamic world until the enemy is overcome, and the victory of Allah descend.” (Institute for Palestine Studies, Univ. of California Free Press, 1993). 

From the fiercely non-partisan Wilson Center regarding the Hamas 2017 Revised Charter, Hamas states, “It is the duty of the followers of other religions to stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region, because the day these followers should take over there will be nothing but carnage, displacement and terror.” 

Hamas also rejects any prospect of peace or coexistence with the state of Israel. 

“While there were some departures the 2017 Revision differs little from the original 1988 document,” (The Atlantic, October 10, 2023).  

After the October 7 Hamas massacre in Israel, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau in exile, stated: 

On October 26, responding to the loss of civilian lives in Gaza, “The blood of the women, children and elderly […] we are the ones who need this blood, so it awakens within us the revolutionary spirit.”  

On January 9 at the International Union of Muslim Scholars in Doha, “Who wishes to invest in building the jihadist generation to liberate Jerusalem and to unite the blood of the Ummah with the blood of the people of Gaza, Jerusalem, and Palestine on the land of Palestine for its liberation and the liberation of Jerusalem?” 

Why is the death toll for Palestinians so high in Gaza? 

We mourn any and all innocent civilian lives lost. Period.  

This is a war that Israel does not want and did not ask for. Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7 with one goal: the death of as many Israelis as possible. However, Israel must protect its citizens from Hamas terror. The war could end immediately if Hamas would lay down its weapons and immediately release all the hostages. 

Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip. Hamas deliberately places military assets, including rocket launchers, within or near civilian areas such as hospitals and schools, intentionally using civilians as human shields.

Israel has developed and utilizes early warning systems to alert civilians in areas where military strikes are imminent. This includes air raid sirens and phone messages to warn residents of impending attacks. Israel has used a practice called “roof knocking” where non-explosive munitions are fired at a target building to warn occupants to evacuate before a real strike occurs.

Unlike Hamas, which fires rockets indiscriminately and intentionally at Israeli civilian areas, Israel employs advanced technology and precision-guided munitions to target military assets while minimizing collateral damage and the risk to civilians.

There are many more questions and responses, of course, and available at ajc.org/IsraelHamasWar

Together, AJC Westchester/Fairfield, Westchester Jewish Council, UJA Federation of Westchester, and JAFI convened a community gathering at Temple Israel Center in White Plains that brought together nearly 1,000 people in person and online to mark the 100 days after October 7 and stand resolute with the hostages, their families, and Israel against Hamas’ depraved and ongoing terror. 

As we mark the horrific 100+ days that Israelis and hostages from over 30 countries are still held in the most deplorable conditions by Hamas, we must continue to stand against Hamas, a terror organization. 

We must continue to stand together until all our hostages are returned safely – immediately. 

Am Yisrael Chai. 

Myra Clark-Siegel is AJC Westchester/Fairfield regional director. Join us at: westchester@ajc.org