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Ruben Navarrette

Columnist, host & author

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Opinion

As the world moves on, never forget Oct. 7, 2023

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Ruben Navarrette

Columnist, host & author

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Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attack claimed over 1,400 Israeli lives and has been called the worst day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. The subsequent Israeli siege and bombing of Gaza, which has now killed over 10,000 Palestinians, unleashed a storm of arguments across the internet and around the world.

Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette asserts that amidst this flood of news and opinions dominating the conversation on Gaza over the past month, Oct. 7 seems to have become a distant memory. Navarrette says to never forget Oct. 7 and emphasizes the importance of being “a good friend” to the Jewish community.

I’ve been to Israel, thanks to the generosity of a group called America’s Voices in Israel. I went with a small group of Latino journalists. And the trip, as promised, changed my life. I have friends in the Holy Land. I know their lives are completely different than they were before the attacks. I also have, here in the United States, Orthodox Jewish friends who have family in Israel, whose lives were, I’m sure, turned upside down last month. Finally, I have Jewish friends who don’t seem to identify with being Jewish.

As a non-Jew, I see Oct. 7 as a test, and I want to pass the test. That’s what I told a family friend who invited my wife, daughter, and I to share the Shabbat meal with her family and friends just two weeks after the attack, when emotions were still frayed. “I feel like I’m being tested,” I told her. “It’s difficult for me to know what to say to my Jewish friends, who I know are in great pain and looking at me to say something. Should I [just] offer condolences? That doesn’t sound right.”

In this world, we see bad people doing a lot of bad things. But through it all, I tried to be a good person. And that usually means being a good friend. And so I’m ashamed to admit that in the last month since the horrific October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, which resulted in more than 1400 Dead Israelis 1000s more injured. More than 250 Israelis taken hostage mass rapes women and children beheaded and their bodies set on fire, this ghastly nightmare that plays out over and over again on a loop in the torture dreams of millions. That since that god awful day, I have not been as good a friend as I should have been to my Jewish friends. I’ve been to Israel, thanks to the generosity of a group called America’s voices in Israel. I went with a small group of Latino journalists. And the trip as promised changed my life. I have friends in the Holy Land. I know their lives are completely different than they were before the attacks. I also have here in the United States, Orthodox Jewish friends who have family in Israel, whose lives were I’m sure turned upside down last month. Finally, I have Jewish friends who don’t seem to identify with being Jewish. As a non Jew, I see October 7 as a test, and I want to pass the test. That’s what I told a family friend who invited my wife, daughter and I just share the Shabbat meal with her family. And friends. Just two weeks after the attack, when emotions were still frayed. Quote, I feel like I’m being tested. I told her, it’s difficult for me to know what to say to my Jewish friends who I know are in great pain and looking at me to say something. Should I offer condolences? That doesn’t sound right. Quote, yes, she said that’s more personal, she acknowledged with a nod of her head. I have reached out to some family, friends and good friends who I know are very close to the suffering in Israel, I said, but not to the majority of my Jewish friends, especially if they’re not open about being Jewish. So I asked her what should I say? determined not to do my homework for me. My friend turned the question around on me. Well, what do you want to say? She asked? I realized that what my friends want to hear most from me, is some evidence that I’m awake, that I see clearly what’s going on. That I understand that Israel is in a fight for its very survival, and that the world has responded shamefully with a wave of anti semitism. It’s like an attack by monsters that should be condemned, has instead awakened other monsters. I swallowed hard. And then I spilled out what was in my heart. I said to my friend, well, I would offer something like this. My dear friend, I’m not Jewish, but I’m human. And so like you, my heart is broken. The media may have moved on from the terrible story of what happened October 7, but I have it and I won’t. My colleagues are content to paint Israel as the villain for doing what the United States or any other country would do. If similarly attacked, strike back to ensure that another attack doesn’t happen all as a means of protecting its citizens. I’m sorry for your loss. And for what this terrible tragedy has done to Israel, the Jewish people and the entire world. I’m sorry for the global wave of anti semitism that has forced Jews at elite Ivy League universities to literally hide and shelter in place. But understand this you are not alone. I am proud to stand with you. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Anyway, my friends seem pleased. That’s good, she said. Then she smiled.

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