The situation in the Middle East has always been a powder keg, and there’s a lot to unpack there. Not only has it challenged the best minds since 1948, but it has divided the region for thousands of years. The wounds are deep and old, so I won’t try to dissect this ancient dispute in a column. It can’t be done, and that’s just the plain truth.
I would, however, like to tackle what’s happened in New York since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. Like you, I watched the videos from victims and, astonishingly, even from the body cams of the attackers. What I saw were carefree young people at a music festival, and looks of confusion as they incredulously watched the sky. I saw them being chased across fields and savagely gunned down.
I watched civilians being attacked, taken hostage, and subsequently heard of victims being tortured and murdered in gruesome fashion, including women and children. Some, American citizens among them, were paraded through the streets in complete defiance of the Geneva Conventions with a barbarity that hasn’t been seen in decades. That’s what I saw, and I can’t unsee it.
And while the Hamas celebration videos were distressing, nothing prepared me for Americans here at home cheering them on. But hate spreads faster than you think. Even just a little ember burns hot, and spreads quickly when given enough oxygen. Sadly, it seems that oxygen is being provided on the campuses of American universities and high schools. Almost daily, pro-Hamas rallies turn into violent, ugly calls for the death of Jews and the destruction of Israel. Now we’re left with kids removing the Star of David from their necks and skipping classes for fear of being attacked, right here in New York.
At Columbia University, an Israeli student was assaulted after he confronted a woman for tearing down posters of Israeli hostages. Anti-Israel protesters at Binghamton University announced that “Israel is worse than Nazi Germany.” At Cooper Union, Jewish students, fearing for their safety during an anti-Israel rally, barricaded themselves in the library. And things are so bad at New York University that Jewish students, faculty and alumni wrote a letter condemning the administration.
Jack M. Martins represents the 7th Senate District.