Resource Page: Understanding and addressing the Israel-Hamas War

Photo: The I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis lit in blue and white to show support for Israel (via Gov. Tim Walz on Facebook)

Updated Nov. 30, 2023

JCRC is here to support the community during this horrific time. We are compiling resources here to support students, parents, employees, and others in communicating about and responding to the atrocities committed by Hamas and the resulting war. This is a dynamic situation; this page will be updated as events develop. 

Take action

Advocate

  • Tell your federal, state, and local elected officials and representatives to support Israel (via JFNA)

Donate to help victims of terror, rebuild communities, and protect Israel  


Talking points

  • Hamas is internationally recognized as an Iranian-backed terrorist army driven by genocidal racism against Jews. It seeks to destroy Israel and replace it with a brutal regime of Islamic supremacy. (Read them in their own words: The truth of Hamas is in its charter)
  • Hamas deliberately embeds its military infrastructure in civilian areas of Gaza. Their leaders and soldiers hide, store weapons, and fire rockets at Israel from homes, schools, hospitals, and mosques. These are war crimes against Israelis and Palestinians alike.
  • In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its citizens and military from Gaza. The Palestinian Authority (PA) began to govern, but in 2007, Hamas violently took control of Gaza from the PA and has ruled it since. Israel and Egypt – with international support – put into effect a land and sea blockade to prevent Hamas from smuggling arms from Iran and other sources.

  • Israel, a multiethnic, multiracial democracy, is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people and is home today to over 9 million Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze. In part, Israel was established to serve as a refuge for Jews fleeing antisemitism and persecution. Since Israel did not exist during the Holocaust, millions of European Jews had no place to go and were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1948, Israel has provided refuge for Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, and other troubled places where Jews faced persecution simply for being Jewish.

  • Every country’s first obligation is the safety of its citizens. This is as true for Israel as it is for our own country. The atrocities Hamas committed against the people of Israel are unforgivable and can never happen again.

    • Because Hamas terrorists deliberately embed themselves within crowded neighborhoods and use civilians as human shields, Israel is being forced to take extraordinary measures to complete their mission of defeating Hamas while minimizing the loss of innocent Palestinian life.

    • As is true with all wars, these measures are imperfect. However, in this war, which Israel did not choose but was forced by Hamas, Israel must do what any nation would do, including our own, to ensure the safety of its people.

The “river” refers to the Jordan River and the “sea” refers to the Mediterranean Sea. The land between those two bodies of water includes the State of Israel (i.e. the land inside the “Green Line”), the West Bank, and Gaza. This chant is not talking about ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Instead, they are stating that they want to “free” Israel from Jews and make all of it a Palestinian state instead. To many Jews, this is heard as a call for the destruction ofthe world’s only Jewish state, and can feel aggressive or threatening.

>> Read about other commonly used terms in JCRC Bay Area's Guide to Recognizing Problematic Rhetoric

 


For parents and educators

  1. Discussing the Israel-Hamas War with Young People (ADL)
  2. 10 Ways to Have Conscientious Conversations on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (ADL)
  3. 6 Tips for Supporting Jewish Students in the Classroom (ADL)

Words matter: How to use precise language when addressing the Israel-Hamas war

Failure to name and condemn Hamas terrorism as the cause of this war, and instead relying on empty euphemisms, demonstrates a lack of moral clarity and erodes trust between the messenger and their Jewish constituents.

Several Minnesota school districts have released statements following Hamas’ murderous attack on October 7 and Israel’s response in defense of its citizens.

Some of these statements sorely missed the mark. By obfuscating through euphemism, they fail to make Jews feel seen and supported as they grieve and cycle through emotions like sadness, rage, fear, and hope.

School districts that demonstrated moral clarity include Hopkins, Edina, Wayzata (principal’s statement), and U of M (their second attempt, as posted on TC Jewfolk; the U’s first statement fell flat).

Elements of a statement with moral clarity:

  • Naming and condemning Hamas as an antisemitic terrorist organization responsible for the murder and kidnapping of Israeli civilians
  • Empathizing with Israelis and Jews who are in grief, enraged, and afraid because of these attacks
  • Empathizing with innocent Palestinian civilians who suffer because a genocidal terrorist organization controls their fate

Having the Israel conversation

No one has the right to expect you to be a spokesperson for Israel or to be prepared to comment on a complex geopolitical matter. That is not your job. Some students want to advocate for Israel, but you are not required to do this. Aim to be well informed to the extent you can, as we are all trying to do. Most of all, know and stand proudly in your Jewish story.

When you hear/witness something that doesn’t sound right (for example: Israel is a racist country, Israel got what it deserves)

  1. Take a breath.
  2. Assess your options. Does it feel safe to speak up in the moment? If not, write down what was said and speak up later, or skip to step 5.
  3. Speak up by asking a question (What did you say? What do you mean by that?)
  4. Share how the comment made you feel (upset, sad, confused, frustrated, discouraged)
  5. For students: tell a trusted adult (parent, teacher, youth group leader, rabbi, JCRC)

Contact JCRC: 612-338-7816 / minndakjcrc.org

>> From ADL: 10 Ways to Have Conscientious Conversations on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Sources for news and analysis

News

  1. Times of Israel: Top English-language Israeli news site and podcast creator

Analysis

  1. The Rescuers, by Tom Friedman (Nov. 22, 2023 / New York Times)
  2. In Israel, There Is Grief and There Is Fury. Beneath the Fury, Fear., by Bret Stephens (Nov. 10, 2023 / New York Times)
  3. It’s fair to compare Oct. 7 to Kristallnacht, by Rabbi Alexander Davis (Nov. 8, 2023 / Star Tribune)
  4. Ecstasy and Amnesia in the Gaza Strip, by Shany Mor (Nov. 6, 2023 / Mosaic)
  5. Counterpoint: Mourn all innocents. Don’t excuse murderers., by Susie Kaufman (Nov. 2, 2023 / Star Tribune)
  6. My friends on the left want a cease-fire. Why aren’t they demanding that Hamas surrender, instead?, by Carly Pildis (Nov. 2, 2023 / Forward)
  7. Dear world: I don’t care, by Avi Lewis (Oct. 30, 2023 / Times of Israel)
  8. Video: Our hearts are big enough to hold the humanity and heartache of Jews and Palestinians, Rabbi Sharon Brous (Oct. 27, 2023 / MSNBC)
  9. A War Against the Jews, by Michael Oren (Oct. 26, 2023 / The Free Press
  10. Why Jews Cannot Stop Shaking Right Now, by Dara Horn (Oct. 22, 2023 / New York Times)
  11. Pro-Israel progressives begin to crack down on growing far-left extremism toward Israel, by Matthew Kassel (Oct. 19, 2023 / Jewish Insider)
  12. Abandoned by Progressives, American Jews Will Rethink Their Priorities, by Michael Koplow (Oct. 19, 2023 / The Messenger)
  13. What this war is about, by Yossi Klein Halevi (Oct. 17, 2023 / Times of Israel)
  14. Why we can’t support DSA-backed City Council candidates, by several DFL leaders, in an open letter to fellow DFL leaders (October 16, 2023 / Star Tribune)
  15. Hamas does not yet understand the depth of Israeli resolve, by Haviv Rettig Gur (Oct. 16, 2023 / Times of Israel)
  16. What It Would Mean to Treat Hamas Like ISIS, by David French (Oct. 12, 2023 / New York Times)

One book to understand Jewish Peoplehood and the dual narratives at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  1. Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi (Be sure to purchase 2nd Edition in paperback, which includes an extensive epilogue of Palestinian responses)

Jewish Educational Content

  1. Jewish Unpacked
  2. Shalom Hartman Institute

Podcasts

  1. Times of Israel Daily Briefing
  2. For Heavean’s Sake (Hosted by Yossi Klein Halevi and Donniel Hartman / Shalom Hartman Institute)
  3. What Matters Now to Michah Goodman: Vow to stand with Israel when it fires back

Instagram

  1. Hey Alma (@hey.alma)
  2. debbie lechtman (@rootsmetals)
  3. Hen Mazzig (@henmazzig)
  4. Matthew Nouriel (@matthewnouriel)
  5. political jew (@politicaljew)

Reach out to JCRC

  • Report an antisemitic, bias, or discriminatory incident.
  • Request a speaker from JCRC for an educational discussion in your classroom, business, or community about the Hamas terror attacks and what they mean for Israel and the world. 
  • Reach out if there is any other way we can support you. 

JCRC statements, media, and events

Statements

Media Coverage

Nov. 28-30, 2023

  • Kare 11: Activists call on Minnesota to end investments in Israel
  • TC Jewfolk: Minneapolis Teacher’s Union Passes Resolution Centering Families, ‘Regrets’ Harm Caused
  • KTSP: Minneapolis teachers union considers new resolution on Israel-Hamas war after accusations of antisemitism
  • KTSP: Pro-Palestine groups protest state investments in Israel
  • MPR: Pro-Palestinian, Jewish groups gather at Capitol to weigh in on state’s Israel investments
  • TC Jewfolk: JCRC Head Says BDS Is ‘Essence Of Antisemitism’
  • WCCO: Minneapolis teachers union walks back controversial statement on Israel-Hamas war
  • WCCO: Pro-Palestinian groups and supporters of Israel in Minnesota clash over state investments in the country
  • The Break Down Podcast: A break down with Ethan Roberts of the Jewish Community Relations Council

Nov. 25-27, 2023

  • Star Tribune: Edina schools criticized for suspending students who used pro-Palestinian chant during walkout
  • KSTP: Minnesota Jewish Community Relations Council encouraged by Israel, Hamas hostage exchange
  • KSTP: Cease-fire between Israel and Hamas begins with a swap of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners

Nov. 19-22, 2023:

  • The Art of Living Well Podcast: Unraveling anti-semitism and exploring ideologies in the Israel-Hamas war
  • Patch: Minneapolis Teachers Union Accused Of Promoting Antisemitism
  • KARE 11: Minneapolis teachers draw fire for post on Israel
  • KTSP: Jewish Community Relations Council calls Minneapolis teachers union resolution ‘antisemitic’
  • TC Jewfolk: Letter Calls Minneapolis Teacher Union Resolution ‘Antisemitic and Hostile’
  • WCCO: The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is catching heat for a statement on Israel

Nov. 17, 2023:

  • WCCO: Jewish families blast Minneapolis teacher union statement on Israel as “dangerous to our children,

Nov. 15, 2023:

  • TC Jewfolk: MN Jews Call For Return Of Hostages And Find Support, Relief At Historic D.C. Rally

Nov. 2, 2023:

  • TC Jewfolk: Jewish-Ukrainian Press Conference Condemns Hamas & Russia, Calls For More U.S. Aid
  • TC Jewfolk: U Student Details On-Campus Antisemitism
  • Star Tribune: Jews and Ukrainians band together in Minnesota to link conflicts in Israel, Ukraine
  • KSTP: Agencies monitoring concerns of antisemitism and Islamophobia nationwide
  • WCCO: Minnesota groups defend Israel, Ukraine amid conflicts

Nov. 1, 2023:

  • TC Jewfolk: Edina A Microcosm For How Israel-Hamas War Affects Schools, Jewish Community Response

Oct. 28, 2023:

  • Star Tribune: Local Muslim leaders vow to campaign against Biden unless he calls for cease-fire

Oct. 26, 2023: 

  • WCCO: Local Jewish community concerned about huge rise in antisemitic incidents in U.S. in wake of Hamas attack

Oct. 14, 2023

  • KSTP: Minnesota experts weigh in on the expected Israeli invasion of Gaza

Oct. 13, 2023

  • TPT Almanac: Steve Hunegs on Twin Cities Jewish community reaction to Hamas terror attack.
  • KTSP: “Be vigilant but tomorrow be extra vigilant.” Minnesota’s Jewish community says ‘prepare not scare’ after Hamas declares a ‘day of rage’
  • Pioneer Press: St. Paul police increase patrols around synagogues amid Israel-Hamas war

Oct. 10-11, 2023:

  • MPR News: ‘People do not want bombings’: Minnesota Jewish community gathers after attack on Israel
  • Star Tribune (news): Minnesotans gather to show support for Israel, Palestinians
  • Star Tribune (Editorial Board): A call for unity in response to terror
  • KARE 11: ‘How can I help?’: Gathering held at Beth El Synagogue to show support for Israel
  • WCCO: Minnesotans showed their support for Israel after Hamas terrorist attacks
  • KSTP: Outpouring of emotion in Minnesota following Hamas attacks on Israel
  • FOX 9: St. Louis Park synagogue welcomes hundreds to show solidarity with Israel
  • TC Jewfolk: Capacity Crowd Packs Beth El In Show Of Solidarity With Israel

Oct. 9, 2023

  • Star Tribune: For Minnesotans with ties to Israel and Gaza, feelings of fear, devastation and anger
  • WCCO: Jewish and Palestinian Americans frightened as war in Israel continues, death toll rises
  • KFGO: Steve Hunegs interview with Joel Heitkamp

Oct. 7, 2023

  • TC Jewfolk: Jewish Community Reacts To Devastating Hamas Attack, Israel At War