Bringing Justness to Terrorism, Murder, History, and Heartbreak:
It’s Not Alright (Part II—A Eulogy of Resolve)
Introduction: War and Children
In an unanticipated, surprise attack on Saturday, October 7th—exactly two weeks ago (although it seems longer)—the Gaza Strip-controlling terrorist group Hamas tortured and slaughtered over 1,400 infants, children, adolescents, adults, and elderly. . . injuring over 2,200 others. . . and kidnapping and carrying over 200 more into Gaza. Innocents from Israel, the Middle East, and across the globe.
Subsequent events have occurred these last two weeks in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and in the border countries of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
And there has been a media and social media blitz from all sides and across the world with information, disinformation, propaganda, and attempts to defend or rationalize the Hamas attacks or, at least, to change the subject and focus on the “next news cycle.”
While the Blog discussion below connects the Hamas attacks to the importance of educating American school children regarding the historical, political, and social meaning of related attacks that some schools struggle with. . .
Please do not waver from the reality that Hamas’ unspeakable and unimaginable atrocities were vile, inhumane, and indefensible.
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It is easy to point fingers before, during, and after a war. Often, the finger-pointing is how the war began. . . and sometimes, it is why it continues, is renewed, or never seems to end.
War is absolute. It is either occurring, or it is not. There is no such thing as “a small war.” And in the midst of war, the history behind the war is often lost.
And yet, there are different kinds of war.
There are wars based on moral imperatives and existential threats. There are wars against social, economic, or environmental conditions that are not waged on humans per se, but on their behalf. And there are wars fought against physical enemies—sometimes in lands far away.
But different than war: There is international and domestic terrorism that occurs in the name of war.
Terrorism has no moral imperative. And terrorism requires no authentication. Because terrorism occurs with disregard, depravity, barbarism, and—tragically— murder.
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Examples of war:
- The Civil War
- The War on Poverty
- World Wars I and II
- The War on Drugs
- The Korean and Viet Nam wars
- The war to combat climate change
Examples of terrorism:
- The January 6th Insurrection at the Capitol
- Hamas’ torture and slaughter—once again, on Saturday, October 7th—of over 1,400 infants, children, adolescents, adults, and elderly. . . along with over 2,200 injured. . . and over 200 kidnapped into Gaza.
Bringing Equity to Discussions about Terrorism, Murder, History, and Justice
Today’s discussion will not take long.
When discussions get long, there is more for dissenters to argue with.
Two weeks ago, on the day of the Hamas attacks, I penned a Blog asserting that our attitudes, beliefs, and positive and negative biases are influenced by our lived and unlived experiences. While lived experiences unfold in planned and unplanned ways across our lifetimes, our unlived experiences include (a) those experienced by others, but not by us; and (b) those present in our lives, that we miss or choose to ignore.
Sharing an autobiographical journey, the Blog described how my awareness and understanding of Black history and “being Black in America” has evolved over the years—based not just on who I am and where I’ve lived, but also based on the history I have seen and the people with whom I have interacted.
Part of this discussion juxtaposed the importance of remembering the Holocaust with Black history and the past and present Civil Rights Movement.
The Blog concluded that all students should learn and discuss the depth and breadth of Black history. . . that no student should be denied this lived experience and opportunity. With this learning, every student can more directly draw their own understanding and conclusions regarding race, bias, equity, and reparations... as they transition to adulthood.
Today, we add to this previous discussion.
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As with 9/11. . . and the January 6th Insurrection. . . districts and schools across the country have already received resource materials, lesson plans, and guidance on how to discuss the Hamas terrorist attack. . . and the ensuing response from Israel, the United States, and others.
No one has questioned the need and importance of discussing these attacks.
No one has said, “We must wait”. . . “This is not important”. . . “This is ‘fake news’ created for political purposes”. . . “We do not want to make our school children uncomfortable.”
No. We are all living—right now—a shared moment in history.
For some, this will be a day in history that they will always remember. . . Saturday, October 7, 2023. . . Israel’s 9/11. . . the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur attacks on Israel from the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights by a coalition of Arab countries led by Egypt and Syria.
Yes. We are all living—right now—a shared moment in history.
And it is our responsibility to guide our students. . . from preschool through high school. . . helping them to understand what they are seeing, what others are feeling, what they are feeling, and what we all need to learn from this day.
We must do this in developmentally sensitive ways. And we must do this in culturally sensitive ways.
But we must do this without equivocation.
It’s Not All Right. . . It’s Not Alright
Unequivocally. . . October 7, 2023 was a terrorist attack on a sovereign country established partially as a refuge for the European Jews who survived the Nazi attempt to exterminate every Jew on the face of the Earth. (Six Million Jews were incinerated in the Nazi Death Camps.)
October 7, 2023 was a terrorist attack by an extremist organization (not country) formed and committed to exterminating every Jew living in the sovereign State of Israel.
American students. . . and the World. . . need to understand what they did. They decapitated people. They burned people alive. They tortured and raped women and young girls. They took the future. . . physically and—for the survivors—emotionally from a country.
There is no equivocation as to what they did. There can be no parsing or apologies for their acts. We cannot speak in historical contexts. . . we must speak only with historical clarity.
And if we speak today with clarity, we must express—all of us—the same clarity when talking about the Insurrection on the Capitol. . . and Black history and racial prejudice.
There is no difference between the Israelis slaughtered two weeks ago, those killed defending the Capitol during the Insurrection, the victims and First Defenders killed at the Twin Towers on 9/11, and the Black men, women, and children lynched by mobs, for example, in the South.
They were all innocently murdered.
None of this is all right. And none of this is alright.
And right now, in addition to Israel, parts of our country are not all right or alright. . .
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While there are hundreds of videos that I could share about the tragedy two weeks ago. . . and hundreds of Facebook pictures and obituaries of Israeli youth killed or abducted. . . I end with two videos and a prayer.
The first video is New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaking on October 10th at a rally in the City in support of Israel.
In case the symbolism has been missed:
A Black brother speaking at a rally supporting Israel and its Jewish population. . . The sitting Mayor of the City where the Twin Towers once towered. . . A wise Leader who both understands the Holocaust, and the moral imperative of delivering an unequivocal message.
The second video is a woman soldier from the Israel’s Defense Forces asking five personal questions comparing her and our safety that we all need to hear.
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And finally, a prayer from the Jewish traditions adapted for this horrific event and exceedingly sad time:
In the rising of the sun, and in it's going down, we remember them.
From the moment we wake till we fall asleep, all that we can do is remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and the chill of winter, we remember them.
On the frigid days of winter and the moments we breathe the cold air, we warm ourselves with their embrace and remember them.
In the opening of buds and the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
As the days grow longer and the outside becomes warmer, we are more awake and we remember them.
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May the memories of the righteous whose lives were taken in Israel be a blessing. . . may they, their families, their friends, the whole community of Israel, and the entire world community find solace for our grief. . . and may we all say together, “Never again” and Amen.