No Hate in Our States: Independence Day in a Post-October 7 World

By Myra Clark-Siegel, Regional Director, AJC Westchester/Fairfield

This year, Independence Day takes on a deeper meaning, especially in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror attacks and the horrific spike of antisemitism and anti-Israel attacks across the U.S. 

July 4th in the United States and Yom Haatzmaut in Israel are not merely annual celebrations; they symbolize the deeply held values and aspirations of two nations bound by mutual respect and shared democratic principles. They not only commemorate the historic establishment of each nation but also reflect the ongoing commitment of both countries to uphold democracy, freedom, and human dignity—especially critical in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas terror attacks.

July 4th is a time for us to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy and to reflect on the responsibilities that come with those freedoms.

Similarly, Yom Haatzmaut, Israel Independence Day, is celebrated enthusiastically across Israel. Like Independence Day in the U.S., Yom Haatzmaut underscores Israel’s ongoing commitment to democratic governance and the rule of law, despite the complex security challenges it faces.

These shared values of democracy, freedom, and justice form a cornerstone of the U.S.-Israel relationship. This partnership is based on more than just strategic interests; it is rooted in a common set of ideals and a mutual commitment to maintaining a world where democratic norms are respected and defended. These shared values facilitate strong bilateral cooperation across civil society, further enhancing the bonds between our two great nations.

The importance of these ties was brought into sharp focus following the October 7 Hamas terror attacks. Such incidents underscore the threats to stability and peace in the region and highlight the necessity of steadfast alliances. In the wake of these attacks, the robust U.S.-Israel partnership exemplifies how nations can work together to confront and overcome extremism and terrorism, striving for a safer and more secure world.

As I write this, eight Americans are still held hostage among the 120+ hostages still in horrific captivity by Hamas terrorists. I pray that better news will make this column obsolete before publication. As we celebrate July 4th, let us also pledge to ensure that every single hostage is returned safely and immediately to their families and friends. Only then can we truly celebrate Independence Day. 

Myra Clark-Siegel is AJC Westchester/Fairfield regional director. To get involved or request an AJC speaker: AJC@westchester.org.