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In response to the events of October 7th in Israel, we’ve reimagined our travel experiences for students. Our new focus emphasizes faith formation, education, humanitarian efforts in Israel, and advocacy for our Jewish friends.
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After the attacks of October 7th in Israel, we’ve revised our travel experiences for students—focusing on faith formation, education, humanitarian efforts in Israel, and advocacy for our Jewish friends.
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The hypocrisy of ‘never again’ this past Holocaust Remembrance Day

I just returned from Israel. My life has become marked by before October 7th and after October 7th. This is infinitely more true for Israelis, especially those whose loved ones have been murdered or taken hostage by Hamas.

I work for Passages, an organization that brings Christian students on life-changing trips to Israel and equips them to know God, stand firm and take action. My story is inextricably connected to Israel. It’s divine. I don’t have any other way to put it.

When the attacks of October 7th happened, our team was shocked and devastated. All of a sudden, the eyes of the world had turned toward this land we love so much and its people whom we love even more.

At first, those eyes of the world looked on the October 7th attacks with shock and horror. The terror regime in Gaza — Hamas — had infiltrated Israel by surprise, shattered Israel’s defenses, and searched door-to-door for men, women and children.

They proceeded to beat, torture, rape, stab, burn alive, behead and gun down Jewish people of all ages — including the elderly and infants. They killed around 1,200 in the initial attack and took around 240 hostages to Gaza. As a result, thousands upon thousands have been displaced, made refugees in their own country. And still, over 130 hostages remain missing.

October 7th was the single bloodiest day in Israeli history, the bloodiest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust, and the equivalent of nearly 15 9/11 events given the size of Israel’s population compared to the United States.

Sure, people were shocked and horrified by all of this. But that shock and horror quickly turned to indifference, and indifference turned into contempt toward the Jewish people. It simply doesn’t make sense. But the narrative shifted. Lies began to spread faster than the truth. And before we knew it, so much of the world had erupted in protest against Israel.

Claiming Israel (not Hamas) is guilty of genocide (see: the trial at The Hague). Comparing Hamas’ terror attack to a “resistance movement.” Chanting “from the river to the sea” without even knowing which river and which sea and what that chant is actually calling for — the total extermination of the Jewish people from the land.

The devastating reality is that the Jewish people are all too used to the world turning its back on them. They’re all too used to being targeted just for their Jewishness. To call October 7th a “resistance movement” or to make some kind of argument of moral equivalency is to grossly misunderstand the nature of Hamas as a terrorist organization and, even more importantly, to ignore how the past few thousand years of history have treated the Jewish people.

We commemorated the Holocaust on January 27th — a dark time in history in which six million Jews were killed. Most of the world didn’t wake up to the horrors until it was too late.

No one is coming to save us was a gut-wrenching realization for many people living in kibbutzim or other small villages along the Gaza border on October 7th. During the attack, the IDF was taken completely by surprise and overwhelmed. The civilians were left vulnerable and unprotected.

When these civilians heard the sirens announcing incoming missiles, the blasts of grenades, the gunshots in the distance drawing closer to their homes — they believed that someone would come for them. That the military would come. Someone had to be coming.

The story of so many civilians that day was that no one came. Hundreds of peace-loving people, murdered in cold blood in their homes. Many of them hid alone, sending goodbye messages to their family members over WhatsApp, not knowing which breath would be their last.

On the Passages solidarity trip, I personally walked through the neighborhood of the “Young Generation” in Kfar Aza and saw the devastation for myself — the small, once-beautiful homes reduced to rubble as the hiding occupants were found, killed, or taken hostage. I’ve not seen anything like it in my lifetime, and it is seared into my memory forever.

Many heroic civilians and soldiers did come to the rescue for some. Yet for others, it was too late. The fear that no one was coming to save them proved true … again.

Holocaust Remembrance Day was different this year. Our remembrance is made all the more visceral in the darkness of the terror attack of October 7th — 3,000 Hamas terrorists with the same objective as Nazis in the 20th century: to exterminate Jewish lives.

But this time, the Jewish people have a home. A state. Self-determination and the strength to protect themselves.

We say “never forget” when we talk about the Holocaust, and yet sadly, the loud (whether ignorant or malicious) chants of “from the river to the sea” prove that so many have forgotten.

Today, let us remember the Holocaust not in word, but in deed. Let us remember that in order for “never again” to be true, the flourishing of the State of Israel must also be true.

And for the flourishing of the State of Israel to be true, the world must acknowledge and support the right of the State of Israel to defend its civilians (as well as Palestinian civilians) from the evil of Hamas.

This isn’t about politics. It’s about right and wrong.

I appreciate what one of Passages’ alumni, David Peters, said during our recent solidarity trip to Israel: “We live in a world where we call evil good and good evil, especially in my generation, the younger generation. We just want to speak the truth and call evil, evil and good, good.”

It’s time to identify evil for what it is. It’s time to point to what’s right and true based on what the Bible says — not what society says. It’s time to speak out.

Right now, the loudest voice on campuses, in streets across the globe, and throughout news feeds on social media is the demonization of Israel, double standards, and confirmation of the ultimate Jewish fear — that we are alone and no one is coming to save us.

Our Jewish friends need to hear a different voice. The world needs to hear a different voice. One of wisdom, of understanding, of solidarity, of friendship, of hope. May this voice become the loudest. For this to be so, remaining neutral is no longer an option.

I’ve just spent the past week in Israel, and it will take me a lifetime to process what I saw and heard. Words aren’t enough. And yet, here I am, undertaking the impossible task of calling us all to action as a result of this experience that around 25 people shared together — hoping that it will beckon us all to stand up and speak out.

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