[This is a guest essay by Marina Sonkina]

Dear Friends:

Campground after Oct 7 massacre

Abandoned camp ground after the barbaric October 7th Hamas attacks. AP photo.

I started writing this as a response to a friend in the wake of the October 7th events.

Soon after the slaughter that left 1,200 civilian Israelis dead, more than 5,000 wounded and
240 kidnapped, including a nine-month-old baby, the lukewarm sympathy for Israel’s plight was
overwhelmed by many pro-Palestinian rallies and propaganda once Israel had retaliated.

This continues:

Jewish students on American campuses are threatened with death. In faraway Dagestan, a republic at the southern-most tip of Russia, an anti-Semitic mob attacked the airport hunting for Jews after a plane from Israel had landed. In Vancouver, where I live, a man in a concert hall in Vancouver shouted “Fuck the Jews.” Jews were removing mezuzahs from their doors and menorahs from their windows even before the Israeli Defense Army entered Gaza. A Langara College English instructor and Indigenous curriculum consultant spoke at a public rally in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on October 26 and ecstatically endorsed the armed Hamas attack on civilians in southern Israel on October 7 as an “amazing, brilliant offensive.”

What kind of Palestinian political agenda can justify Hamas atrocities and the explosion of antisemitism? “Gaza (Hamas) is fighting against oppression. It acts out of desperation because Palestinians can’t have their own state,” the reasoning goes. Do I believe that Palestinians deserve their own state where they can live in peace and prosperity? – Absolutely. With one little ‘if.’ That is if they agree that Jews have the right to live next to them and not be pushed into the sea.

Would Israel be able to dismantle settlements in the West Bank considered illegal by the international law after it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, with the consequences we’re witnessing today? I doubt it.

Middle East map

Map courtesy AP.

Three thousand Hamas murderers – many dressed in Israeli uniforms – didn’t break into Israel to reclaim more land or change the borders or seek justice. They came to kill children, to cut off arms and legs; to rape and kill women; to tie up a father and a child, douse them with kerosene and burn them alive. In other words, to do what haters of Jews have been doing during pogroms over centuries, both in Europe and the Middle East. Among the murdered and tortured and kidnapped were kibbutz-die-hard-peaceniks and sympathizers to the Palestinian cause. These included a woman who for years was helping sick Gazans to get to Israeli hospitals. But none of it mattered to Hamas terrorists. The only thing that mattered and drove their hatred was that their victims were Jews.

All stages of the assault, including their cynical propaganda, were planned in advance. Hamas knew that Israel would have to respond militarily and willingly sacrificed the lives of its civilians in order to ignite anti-Semitic fury around the world.

Hamas is acting in keeping with the goals declared in their charter: the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of Jews; in other words, a declared genocide. They tried to do that with the help of their 30,000-strong army as disposable cannon fodder while their leaders live in luxury in Qatar, Istanbul and Iran. And fly private jets to Moscow to meet with foreign ministers of Iran and Russia.

Again: Hamas is not about land dispute, not about justice or freedom for Palestinians or any of these beautiful words that ignite Pro-Palestinian crowds. It’s about a murderous ideology of ISIS. It’s about the creation of an Islamic Caliphate worldwide. It’s about throwing the 21st century back to the 7th, to the beginning of Arab conquests. Yet, I doubt the leaders of Hamas are true believers: like all dictators, they are driven by lust for power. Ideology is just their handmaid.

And who are Palestinians of Gaza but the hostages of Hamas? Do I think that some Palestinians blame (albeit secretly, at the risk of being murdered) their corrupt, terrorist government for their oppression? – Yes. – Can they rid themselves of Hamas? – No. – Are many Palestinians indoctrinated by Hamas and support it? – Yes. – Is it possible to separate the supporters from non-supporters? – If it is, I don’t know how.

But let me say this: the future of Palestinians is not in the hands of Hamas but is now in the hands of the Israeli army that goes into Gaza with a stated purpose of eliminating this terror group. If Israeli soldiers succeed (and I hope they will), not only will they protect their own country from future atrocities but they will also liberate millions of Palestinians and save the world from barbarism. This is no different from the cause of Ukrainians: if Ukrainians manage to defeat Putin’s army, they could potentially free two countries: Ukraine but also Russia, enslaved by Putin and turned into a fascist terrorist state.

Recent facts are so quickly forgotten. Israel does not attack. It defends itself. In its short history of 75 years, it has been attacked numerous times, first by Arab countries, then by suicide terrorists, and now by the armies of terrorist organizations. Attacked from all sides. As we speak, the rockets from Yemen are flying to Israel. Half-a-million Israelis are displaced. Three weeks into the war, Hamas launched more than 7,000 rockets into Israel.


I was naïve in thinking that if Israel totally withdrew from Gaza and gave it full autonomy (in 2005), Palestinians would build a kind of Singapore on the Mediterranean coast with tourism, agriculture (they have rich lands), fishing and trade. Instead they turned Gaza into hell by electing Hamas. Some commentators say it happened because Gazans hoped for a better government than an extremely corrupt Palestinian Authority. When Germans elected Hitler they must have had high hopes, too.

The first thing that Hamas did when elected was to throw out their more moderate opponents, Fatah leaders, together with their families, out of the windows. Then they proceeded to destroy the houses, the shopping centres and the infrastructure that Jews had left.

Murdered Jews in body bags

Jewish soldiers prepare to transport bodies of Hamas-murdered Jewish civilians in body bags. 

But on October 7, apart from murdering as many Jews as possible, Hamas had a bigger political game in mind. Israel’s on-going negotiations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states were threatening Hamas’ very reason for existence. Successful treaties could undermine Iran’s interests that supported, trained and provided Hamas with weapons. Their subsequent calculation was as murderous as it was cynical: the atrocities of October 7 had to be of such brutality and scale as to leave Israel with no choice this time but to fight back. In the previous rocket attacks, Israel limited its response to intercepting rockets with an Iron Dome, destroying some of the Hamas rocket launches and subterranean attack tunnels, and then retreating. The world’s reaction? “Oh, Israel is doing the usual, attacking Gaza, that ‘prison under open skies.’”  (The secret of propaganda, as Goebbels surmised, is repetition. On college campuses around the world, know-little idealists repeat sheer falsehoods, feeling virtuous in the process.)

During any ceasefire, Hamas resumes digging tunnels, using cement delivered by Israel and other countries for house construction; they continue smuggling more weapons from Iran and Russia, building more rockets from the water pipes provided by Israel and attacking Israel again. Over the years, these rockets became more sophisticated. They are now reaching most of Israel’s population including the major cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Many rockets work on timer

Perhaps Hamas was running out of handouts from the UN, European Union and Americans this time; perhaps it felt swept to the side of history by negotiations between Israel and the Saudis. They therefore needed to inflame the “Arab street” and the West by a time-tested tactic. Force their foe to engage. In Hamas’ books, human life is cheap! Use your own people as human shields. Dig the tunnels that open in the homes of civilians; set up your headquarters, your rocket launchers, under hospitals and schools. Blame the perished civilians on the Israeli army, flaunt the pictures of destruction and wounded children to the world. You are an underdog, the world will side with you! Humanitarian help will flow and you will use it for personal enrichment and arms.

This calculation has worked: much of the world is now blaming the Israeli army for responding with aggression. It doesn’t ask if any other army in the world would send emails and call homes and drop leaflets before targeting a building.  It pays no attention to the fact that Israeli Army protects Palestinian civilians as Hamas shoots at them preventing them from leaving the Northern part of Gaza. Israel is even blamed for stopping to provide electricity, water, etc. Would any other country continue to provide water, fuel, electricity and medication (all for free) to the party that regularly attacks it?

Israel war 1973

An Israeli military medic gives water to Egyptian soldiers minutes after they surrendered in Sinai desert (Oct. 1973). “The prisoners’ heads were covered,” recalls the photographer, Martin Igla, an Israeli reservist who served with an armoured division, “only because this was on the front line. Prisoners were escorted away soon afterwards. That’s because the Geneva convention does not allow POWs to be kept in a war zone. Egypt and Israel generally observed the international POW conventions; whereas many Israeli soldiers captured by Syrians would be brutally mutilated. Of course, the difference between Egyptian forces and the Hamas killers of today is night and day.”

Egypt has long closed the border crossing to Gaza; Hamas being a branch of Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization. Yet, it doesn’t get as bad a reputation as Israel does. (As I’m writing this, Egypt has finally agreed to let out some wounded Palestinians and foreigners.)

History is quickly forgotten: Egypt was controlling Gaza since 1947 to 1967. I can’t think of another country in world history that would give back the territories to the enemy that has attacked it. But Israel wanted peace. It wanted Arabs to say: “We recognize your right to exist.” It got peace with Egypt that is holding today. The sad  thing is that peace could be only won through victory in the war what was imposed on Israel. In 1967, as a result of yet another war that Egypt, Syria and Jordan lost, Israel took over Gaza and refugee camps were set up. But when, in 1973, Egypt attacked Israel again and was defeated, there was an opening for peace negotiations to begin. In 1977, Israel returned Sinai to Egypt in exchange for a peace treaty and the acknowledgement that Israel has the right to exist.

Peace for Land was a movement strongly supported by Israel at the time. That’s when Israel wanted to give Gaza back to Egypt, but Egypt’s Prime Minister Anwar Sadat categorically refused. That peace treaty with Israel was opposed by the Arab League and ultimately cost Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient (in 1978) Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat his life.

These days Egypt has built lots of apartment buildings in Sinai. They stay empty. In the past, Israel had offered to buy apartments for Gazans paying about $20,000 for each unit. Yet, Egypt would not let Gazans move in for the threat of terrorism. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has warned that any attempt to move Gazans into the Sinai peninsula would prompt Egyptians to “go out and protest in their millions.”

I can’t help but wonder: how is it that the only democratic country in the Middle East – Israel – is vilified and hated while the Arab autocratic states are hailed and supported? What is the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict? In search of the answer, we must turn to history.


Kyiv 1881 Pogrom

Kyiv 1881 Pogrom

The massacre of Jews in the Russian empire (200 pogroms in 1881–1882) and then the Dreyfus affair set in motion events leading to the birth of Zionism as a secular, political movement. Its founder, Theodore Herzl, a secular Jew who was an Austro-Hungarian journalist working in Paris, only gradually came to the conclusion that the only way to stop European antisemitism was to take all Jews out of Europe.

Creation of a Jewish state in Jewish ancestral lands, Palestine, seemed, at that point, to be only a pipe dream. Initially, Herzl had played with the idea that all European Jews should simply get baptized, openly, in plain view, and then Europeans would ’embrace’ them and stop hating them. Creation of Israel would not occur until almost 40 years after Herzl’s early death in 1904.

Continuing pogroms and oppression in the Russian empire made an increasing number of Jews emigrate to Palestine, the neglected, impoverished, malaria-infested, underpopulated land that had been under the Ottoman empire rule for almost 400 years. After Jews had lost their kingdom to Romans in antiquity, a small number of Jews had always been present in Palestine. Even though Crusaders killed Jews en mass, together with Muslims, there still remained Jewish settlements in Palestine.

As a result of pogroms in the 19th century, a return of Jews to the Promised Land never disappeared from Jewish prayers. It became the focal point of their theological and spiritual, if not
earthly, aspirations. Solving “the Jewish question” by resettling Jews to Madagascar (as Hitler suggested before the Nazis came up with the idea of gassing them) or Uganda would not have worked. But from the onset I must say that it wasn’t the reclaiming of “Holy Promised Land” of the Bible, the heart of ancient Israel Samaria and Judea (now the West Bank) that governed the socialist and secular founding fathers of Israel. They mainly hoped for a state that would be defensible and viable.

In the aftermaths of WW I, more Jews fled to Palestine in response to the pogroms in Poland and Ukraine. They did not conquer land by force. In 1901, the Jewish National Fund for Purchasing Land was established and since then diaspora was collecting money for settlers in Palestine. If there is a buyer, there must be a seller. Arabs were selling land at high prices. That generally raised the price of land in Palestine and perhaps led to an increasing split of the Arab population into rich and poor.

The selling of land by Arab landlords to Jews led to many Arab peasants being deprived of land, often relocating to towns where they couldn’t find job. The more Jews arrived in Palestine, the more threatened Arabs felt. These newcomers from Europe and their European “problems’ (like Holocaust) had nothing to do with the locals, their bellies and their traditional way of life. It is perhaps worth noting that when well-to-do Chinese or South Indians or dozens of other nationalities come to North America in droves, we do not start killing them as a matter of principle. We live with them and let them live. We let them raise their children the way they want to and pray the way they want. But that’s not how it works in the Middle East.

To be fair: there were Jews who looked at Arabs with condescension, considering their way of life backward, and not wanting to hire them or to rent them land. But back to history…

The Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration

In November of 1917, Arthur Balfour, the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, generated the Balfour Declaration stating that Britain supports the creation of a National Home for Jews in Palestine. The declaration stated that there should be no actions undertaken that might break the civil or religious rights on non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status that Jews are enjoying in any other country. According to some experts, the Balfour Declaration became the starting point of the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is a popular Arab opinion that by allowing Jews to come, the Brits betrayed the Arabs who had supported their struggle against the Ottomans.

n April of 1920, anti-Jewish riots broke out in the Jewish quarter of Old Jerusalem. In 1929, Arabs attacked and killed 133 Jews. The reason? An increasing number of Jews who were praying at the Wailing Wall were apparently bringing some chairs for the elderly and making temporary partitions. (For those who may not know: the Wailing (or Western) Wall of the Old City in Jerusalem – close to the Al-Aqsa mosque – is the last remnant of the Second Temple, and the most sacred place for religious Jews. That’s where – according to Jewish theology – Shekinah, the Divine Presence is the strongest; that’s the connection of Jews with their faith and their history. The riots spread over Palestine, and as a result, ancient Jewish communities in Gaza, Hebron, Scheme and other cities were decimated. The Zionist paramilitary organization “Hagana” and British troops killed 116 Arabs.
Trying to resolve the increasing conflict between Arabs and Jews, the League of Nations drew a plan of the partition of British Palestine. Since Arabs were more numerous than Jews, the earliest
partition proposal (1922 ) handed three-quarters of the entire British mandate to the Arab leaders for “Trans Jordan.” Jews were left with a sliver of land west of the Jordan river which would be
further divided. But the Arabs would not settle for anything less than the entire remaining piece of the Mandate. They wanted no Jews in Palestine and rejected the plan.

In the meantime, Jews continued to come to Palestine, now fleeing the fascist regime in Germany. That triggered the massive Arab revolt from 1937 to 1939. Alarmed by this development, the British Administration issued the so-called White Paper (1939) limiting Jewish immigration, restricting land sales to Jews, and introducing constitutional measures that would lead to a single state under Arab majority rule, with provisions to protect the rights of the Jewish minority.

At that point, it was Churchill who defended the Jewish cause. “I cannot conceive why this martyred race scattered about the world and suffering as no other race at this juncture should be denied the satisfaction of having a flag,” he wrote.

But the British had no intention of reversing their Palestine policy. Overthrowing Hitler impoverished them and made the Middle Eastern oil fields more, not less, important. Increasing the level of Jewish immigration would turn the Arab world implacably hostile. In February of 1942, a refugee ship from Romania was refused landing permission by Britain. It was turned back by the Turks, and sank in the Black sea, drowning 770 Jewish refugees.

Neither six million Jews who perished in Holocaust, nor 250,000 Jews remaining in DP camps after the war, changed British policy. But the British influence in the Middle East was declining. Its Mandate over Palestine came to an end in 1948. A year before, the United Nations voted for the creation of Israel. With Britain and the US initially against it, the support came from the most unlikely figure of Stalin, a known anti-Semite. What were his calculations at that pivotal point in the history of the Middle East? We may not know for sure. Did he hope that there would be a socialist state in the Middle East? (The founders of Israel were Labour Zionists and Socialists.) Perhaps he wanted to put a thorn into Britain’s side. There is another theory that he hoped to win over and tease some secrets out of Manhattan Project physicists, many of whom were Jews. Whatever the reason, after his death, the USSR quickly reverted to an anti-Semitic policy in the Middle East (disguised under the term ‘anti-Zionism”.) For decades the Arab countries would wage wars against Israel with the help of Soviet tanks and planes. The KGB formed and financed the PLO. It’s been training its terrorists in Russia since the ’60s. Indeed, Russia licensed Kalashnikov rifles to Hamas, just another example of fruitful cooperation.

But let’s go back to the creation of the state of Israel.

Watching the seething conflict between Arabs and Jews, the UN drew a plan of a partition of Palestine into two states, with Jerusalem as an international city. Jerusalem being the seat of three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the decision seemed fair. Jews did not object. In 1947 the UN placed Gaza within the confines of the proposed independent Arab state. The Jewish leaders did not object to that either.

Just as Jews accepted the partition, the Arab leaders again rejected it. They still believed that the whole of Palestine should belong to Arabs, though there were many other peoples living in Palestine: Druze, Bedouins, Christians of different denominations.
Jamal Al Husseini

Jamal Al HusseiniJamal-al-Husseini, the Chairman of Arab Higher Council announced: “Palestine will be drowned in blood and fire if Jews get any part of it.” Or, in the words of Azzam Pasha, secretary general of Arab League: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre.”

And so it was.

The day after Ben Gurion announced the creation of an Israeli state, six Arab countries attacked Israel.

An interesting insight into fundamentally different psychology of negotiations is given by Paul Johnson, a British historian and a Catholic,

“The Jews have been for two millennia an oppressed minority who had never possessed the option of force. They had therefore been habitually obliged to negotiate, often for bear existence, and nearly always from a position of great weakness. Over the centuries they had developed not merely negotiating skills but its philosophy of negotiation. They would negotiate against impossible odds, and they had learned to accept a negotiated status, however lowly and underprivileged, knowing that it could later be improved by further negotiations and their own efforts.

“The paramountcy of settlement, as opposed to force, was built into their very bones. That was one reason they found it so difficult, even when the evidence became overwhelming, to take in the magnitude of Hitler’s evil: it was hard for them to comprehend a man who wanted no settlement at all with them, just their lives. The Arabs by contrast, were a conquering race whose sacred writings both inspired and reflected an maximalist position towards other people, the despised dhimmi (non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman empire). The very concept of negotiation towards a final settlement was to them a betrayal of principle. A truce, an armistice might be necessary and was acceptable because it preserved the option of force for use later. A treaty, on the other hand, appeared to them a kind of surrender.”


Poor as Israel then was, it managed to defeat five Arab armies out of six.

There never was (and is not now) a Palestinian state. The term “Palestinian State,” supposedly derived from the term “Palestinians,” is a fiction.  Before the creation of the state of Israel, the word  “Palestine” (from the ancient Greek Philistia) referred to a geographical area inhabited by Palestinian Arabs, Palestinian Jews and other ethnic groups.  As for the consequences of the 1948 war, Israel only marginally changed its borders from the U.N.’s 1947 boundaries by a number of kilometers in the west, south and north — really straightening a few border lines at the moment of the ceasefire. The area known today as the West Bank stayed almost intact, in the hands of Jordan, as it was originally part of Trans-Jordan under the British Mandate of 1919. Gaza was part of the Egyptian-held Sinai. Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula were only taken by Israel in the war of ’67.

Can it be that the string of military defeats that follow is still feeding the resentment of Arab leaders as it did in Germany after WW I?


The Nakba

The Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic, refers to the mass displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The first war against Israel resulted in a massive refugee crisis. According to the U.N. numbers, 656,000 Arabs fled, whereas those who remained in Israel became Israeli citizens. What is less talked about is that roughly the same number of Jews (from 500,000 to 600,000) at the same time were expelled from Arab countries. Ancient Jewish communities in Arab world, some going back 2,500 years, ended their existence.

Yet today we do not hear about Jewish refugees. Why? Because Israel has absorbed them. Sephardi Jews from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Egypt, etc. became the backbone of Israeli society.

Palestinian refugees had a different fate. They were settled in camps in the West Bank, and Gaza Strip largely because few Arab countries (with the exception of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) would accept them. As Julia Latinina, a scholar and an expert on Middle East, has observed, Palestinian refugees are the only group of refugees that can claim a “hereditary title.” We do not hear of 15 million German refugees expelled from Eastern Prussia after WWII by Russians, nor about thousands of Polish refugees who fled from Galicia in Ukraine, but the fourth-generation of Palestinians have ‘inherited’ refugee status which entitles them to humanitarian aid from the UN and other organizations. They do not own land, have no jobs, live in poverty and therefore are perfect candidates for terrorism. As Cairo radio put it at the end of the 1940s: “The refugees are the cornerstone in the Arab struggle against Israel. The refugees are the armaments of the Arabs and Arab nationalism.”

The Arabs rejected the 1950 UN plan for resettlement without discussion. Over the subsequent years Arabs refused to receive repeated Israeli proposals for compensation. These refugees were a source of instability for the Arab states, as well. They came close to destroying Jordan. The PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), led by Yasser Arafat, came close to assassinating King Hussein of Jordan in the Black September campaign of 1970. In that struggle the army of Hussein killed more Palestinians than were later killed in all the years of struggle against Israel. The PLO also destroyed the finally balanced structure of Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s. Palestinian militant groups are the existential threat for Israel. They are also a threat to the surrounding Arab states.


In 1967, Israel was again attacked by Arab states. Against all the odds, it won again. As a result, Israel took over the Eastern part of Jerusalem from Jordan as well as the Western Bank that Jordan refused to rule. It also took over Gaza.

Fast forward to 1973. Again, Israel is attacked by Arab states and again it wins. Its victory opens the possibility of peace negotiations with Egypt. In 1977, Israel returns Sinai Peninsula in exchange for a peace agreement with Egypt and the recognition of Israel as a state. Israel also wanted to return Gaza Strip, filled with Palestinian refugees, but Egypt categorically refused.

The Oslo Accords of the 1995 held great promise of peace to the region, but ultimately they failed.

I was present at the talk given by former President Clinton in Vancouver soon after he had left office. Somebody in the audience asked, “Why is it that Jews ruined the peace negotiations with
Palestinians?” Clinton responded with a sly smile, “Ruined? You know, I happened to be there. That was a historical moment when Palestinians could have had their state. But Arafat walked
away from it. He figured out he wouldn’t be able to sell it to his people.”

In the Middle East the price of peace is blood. Itzhak Rabin, the fifth president of Israel, who had signed the peace agreements, was shot and killed by a Jewish extremist–not unlike the Egyptian president Sadat who had been killed by fundamentalist Arab army officers in 1981.

The question remains: why cannot these disputes over this small territory in the Middle East be resolved?

Well, it’s the same answer if one asks why there were anti-Israeli demonstrations two days after October 7th.

It’s ANTISEMITISM. Irrational, visceral, ancient antisemitism.

At one time antisemitism was disguised as Anti-Zionism; then it became the righteous struggle of the oppressed against the oppressive imperialists. (One can argue that the only imperialist power left is Russia, the supporter of terrorism world-wide–but that’s a different subject.)


Prof. Ruth R. Wisse.

Prof. Ruth R. Wisse. Photo courtesy Mosaic Magazine

If Arabs didn’t want to absorb European Jews, they have nonetheless managed to absorb European antisemitism. Robert Bernstein , founder of Human Rights Watch, says that antisemitism is “deeply ingrained and institutionalized” in “Arab nations in modern times.” Harvard University Professor Ruth R. Wisse claims that antisemitism / Zionism “has been the cornerstone of pan-Arab politics since the Second World War” and that it is the “strongest actual and potential source of unity” in the Arab world. This is because Jews and Israel function as substitutes for Western values that challenge the hegemony of religious and political power in the Middle East. Antisemitism is also malleable enough that it can unite right-wing and left-wing groups within the Arab world.

To quote Paul Johnson again.

“Arab antisemitism was an easy blend of religious and secular motives. The grand Mufti of Jerusalem had known of the final solution and welcomed it. Hitler told him that when his troops reached the Middle East they would wipe out the Jewish settlements in Palestine. After the war, many Arabs continued to regard Hitler as a hero-figure. When Eichmann was brought to trial in 1961- 1962, the English language Jordanian newspaper, Jerusalem Times, published a letter congratulating him for having conferred a real blessing on humanity.

Arab antisemitic propaganda often followed the Soviet line that Jews and Nazis had worked hand-in-glove, and that the Zionists were the Nazis’ natural successors. At one time or another, Arab audiences were informed that the Holocaust had been a fortunate event, a diabolical plot between Jews and Nazis, and had never occurred at all, being a simple invention of the Zionists. But when had anti-Semitic theorists ever been disturbed by internal contradictions in their assertions?

During a speech in 2007, Israeli-Arab Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, accused Jews of using children’s blood to bake bread. “We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood,” he said. “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.” In one of his speeches, Kamal Khatib, a deputy leader of the northern branch of the Islamic movement, referred to the Jews as “fleas”.

The Egyptian government-run newspaper, Al Akhbar, on April 29, 2002, published an editorial denying the Holocaust as a fraud. The next paragraph decries the failure of the Holocaust to eliminate all of the Jews: “With regard to the fraud of the Holocaust. … Many French studies have proven that this is no more than a fabrication, a lie, and a fraud!! That is, it is a ‘scenario,’ the plot of which was carefully tailored, using several faked photos completely unconnected to the truth. Yes, it is a film, no more and no less. Hitler himself, whom they accuse of Nazism, is in my eyes no more than a modest ‘pupil’ in the world of murder and bloodshed. He is completely innocent of the charge of frying them in the hell of his false Holocaust!! The entire matter, as many French and British scientists and researchers have proven, is nothing more than a huge Israeli plot aimed at extorting the German government in particular and the European countries in general. But I, personally and in light of this imaginary tale, complain to Hitler, even saying to him from the bottom of my heart, ‘If only you had done it, brother, if only it had really happened, so that the world could sigh in relief [without] their evil and sin.'”

In an October 2012 sermon broadcast on Egyptian Channel 1 (which was attended by Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi), Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, the Head of Religious Endowment of the Matrouh Governorate, prayed (as translated by MEMRI): “O Allah, absolve us of our sins, strengthen us, and grant us victory over the infidels. O Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. O Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder. O Allah, demonstrate Your might and greatness upon them.”

The antisemitic indoctrination continues to be part of the education of Arab children in Middle East. It enters their text-books, children’s stories and TV programs. In one of the children’s programs, 3-4-year-old Arab children are sitting around Prophet Mohamed. A lamb appears. Says this lamb: “I’m a poisoned lamb sent to you by Jews who want to kill you. Please do not eat me.”

I feel sorry for all those Palestinians who are in Gaza right now. I feel sorry for their children.

Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian and public intellectual, suggested that Israel should accept women and children who are fleeing Gaza right now. I like his idea! I don’t know if it’s doable in the days of collective Israeli grief.

But even if it were possible, I doubt that the world will pay attention to any gesture of good will coming from Jews.

The Arab world is now comprised of 21 recognized states. This is 373 million people. They all worry for the Gazans.

Have any of them taken refugees?

The Islamic world consists of about 50 countries. This is 1.6 billion people. They worry for Gazans.

Have any of them taken any Gaza refugees?

Churchill visits bombed-out Coventry Cathedral.

Churchill visits bombed-out Coventry Cathedral.

Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has agreed that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas. During a bipartisan panel discussion at the 30th anniversary celebration for the Baker Institute, participants discussed the situation worldwide, including the Israel-Hamas war. When discussing the call for a ceasefire, Clinton stated: “People who are calling for a ceasefire now, don’t understand Hamas… It would be such a gift to Hamas because they would spend whatever time [that] there was a ceasefire in effect rebuilding their armaments… to be able to fend off an eventual assault by the Israelis.”

Clinton understands history. The supporters of Hamas seem to have forgotten–or else were never taught–that after British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed an agreement with Hitler and he promised Peace in our Time, six million Jews were murdered.

In response to the Nazis’ devastating air assaults on the people of Coventry in England (November 14, 15, 1940), the British and American air forces ultimately undertook an even more dreadful firebombing of Dresden in 1945 with an 800-bomber air raid, dropping some 2,700 tons of bombs and killing 25,000 people. Hitler still wouldn’t surrender. Hamas is equally deranged and callous. Whereas the Allies never forewarned the people of Dresden, Israel gave notice to the people of Gaza to move to the south for two weeks before they were attacked. Hamas set up roadblocks to prevent them from doing so.

Mossad Hassan Yousef

Mossad Hassan Yousef, the disowned son of a Hamas founder, defines Hamas. It begins at about one minute in. 

After the Japanese undertook a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour, the U.S. gained a surrender from Japan only after they dropped those two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing approximately 200,000 civilians. Historians have since estimated that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the extent that it induced Japanese surrender, saved the lives of roughly 30 million people.

“Let’s travel back in time to 1944,” says historian Walter Russell Mead, foreign-affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal, when interviewed by Bari Weiss. “The Allied soldiers have just landed on the Normandy beaches and are just beginning to expand their foothold. A cease-fire would have given the Germans the time they needed to assemble the forces that could throw the Allies back into the sea. A call for a cease-fire that sounded so humanitarian was actually an attempt to hand the victory to one party. Now, I would never say that everybody who calls for a cease-fire today is consciously trying to help Hamas. Nevertheless, it remains the fact that a cease-fire at this time allows Hamas to continue to prepare, it does nothing for the release of hostages, and it does nothing really to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza. The war will resume more bitterly than ever. I think it’s a real mistake to call for a cease-fire”

The son of one of the founders of Hamas, Mosab Hassan Yousef, said in an interview to Piers Morgan: “The blood of the Palestinian civilians is on Hamas. Hamas are not ‘freedom fighters.’ They are religious fanatics driven by hate and lust for power. Hamas opened the gates of Hell for Palestinians. The only path to peace for Palestinian is war on Hamas.”

I can’t agree more.

Marina Sonkina
Vancouver, Canada

[The above essay was written October 31, 2023]

An Addendum

For Those Who Stand By The Perpetrators Of The October 7 Attack


Lady justice at the Old Bailey

Lady Justice at the Old Bailey

In front of the Old Bailey, Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, the statue of Lady Justice is holding scales in one outstretched hand, a sword in the other. She is not blindfolded.

Right after October 7, Hamas gleefully posted videos of its atrocities, only to remove the images a day later, and then to deny murdering Israeli civilians. The Foreign Ministry of Palestinian Authority claimed that Israelis themselves had killed their babies and raped their women.

Both terrorists and fascist regimes use identical strategies: Putin claims he has never attacked Ukraine: it was Ukraine, together with the US, that had assaulted Russia. Rockets falling on Ukrainian cities? Inner squabbles between Nazi Ukrainians.

Since then, Hamas’ war of disinformation and lies went into full gear: there are no tunnels under al-Shifa hospital, no explosives and ammunition there. And when the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) showed a CNN pentagon correspondent the uncovered entrance to one of the tunnels, the world shrugged its shoulders: we need more proof.

Can such blatant lies be effective? Yes, says former Russian KGB agent, S. Zhirnov, turned dissident: It’s the technique Hamas has learned from KGB manuals. It’s the strategy that its predecessor, PLO, the largest terrorist group headed by Arafat, mastered in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s in KGB schools and on their training grounds.

Yahya Sinwar

Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar

Now Hamas claims that they massacred Jews to disrupt possible peace agreements between Arab states and Israel. If that really was their goal, certainly it wasn’t the main one that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar stated in his vitriolic diatribe. With his fist in the air, he screamed his message: We will attack Israel on October 10, and October 15, and in perpetuity, until we wipe Israel from the face of the earth.

Now in hiding, Sinwar is considered by Israeli intelligence to be the mastermind of the massacre. Shrewd, fanatical, psychically tough and sadistic, he spent many years in Israeli prison for his cruel murders of Palestinians who he suspected had collaborated with Israelis. According to Israeli officials, as reported by BBC, he proudly acknowledged having once forced a Palestinian to bury alive his own brother who Sinwar suspected of collaboration, forcing this man’s brother to finish the task with a spoon instead of a shovel.

Respect for the deceased is in Jewish DNA. The desecration of a body often practiced by Arabs as a form of revenge is anathema for Israelis.  It is for that reason that in the past the Israelis surprised the world by releasing hundreds of terrorists from prison in exchange for Israeli corpses. In 2008, Hezbollah returned the bodies of Ehud Goldvassert and Eldar Regev, two captured and then murdered soldiers. Keeping its obligations, Israel freed a terrorist Samir Kuntar who had been sentenced to four life terms in prison for murdering an Israeli family with three children. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, survived five years of captivity and was exchanged in 2011 for 1027 Palestinian prisoners. One of the released was none other than the aforementioned Yahya Sinwar.


Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper

Watching the onslaught of anti-Semitism worldwide, Israel – perhaps for the first time – has overcome its moral scruples and put together a forty-three-minute footage of Hamas butchery, then presented it to the Western heads of state, diplomats and media. Jake Tapper of CNN looked disturbed when he described the evidence. You, too, will find it disturbing, he warned his audience.

But we were spared: no images, just words: a young woman gang-raped by Hamas terrorists. A rapist cutting her breast out while still inside her – these were the words on the screen that Tapper read – and throwing her breast like a ball to another murderer. Then shooting her down multiple times. Cutting out the eyes of a child, then beheading it in front of the parents before killing the parents.

And – let’s pause here for a moment – filming it all.

The dead are now silent. They can’t talk about the torture that extinguished their lives. But their charred flesh displays the gruesome evidence to the coroners, who more than a month later are still trying to identify the victims. Among what they saw was a baby baked alive in an oven.

Monument "Prayer" in Ramat Gan in memory of the Jews who were killed in Iraq in the Pogrom "Farhud" (1941) and in the 1960s

Monument “Prayer” in Ramat Gan in memory of the Jews who were killed in Iraq in the Pogrom “Farhud” (1941) and in the 1960s.

Are we in the 21st century? Or are we in England of 1189 when Jews arrived at Westminster Abbey to pay homage to a newly crowned king Richard I and were mass slaughtered? Are we in Europe of 1348, where Jews, blamed for the Black Death, were burnt alive in Zurich, Basel, Aragon, Flanders, Strasbourg, Mainz, Cologne, Rhineland, Barcelona? Or maybe we are in 1648 Ukraine, where the Cossack army of Bogdan Khmelnitsky in a successful ethnic cleansing killed 40,000 Jews? Or are we still in Ukraine three centuries later, in the glorious times of the Russian revolution, watching Symon Petliura’s troops murdering from 50,000 to 200,000, as the estimates go? Are we standing at the site of Babi Yar, during those two days of 1941 when about 34,000 Jews were executed by Einsatzgruppen? Or are we in Baghdad of 1941, the largest (of so many pogroms in the Arab world), that reduced the ancient 150,000 strong Jewish community almost to zero after the ones not killed had fled and were absorbed by Israel?

No, this is 2023. There are no pogroms worth its name in Canada. Only a thousand strong anti-Israeli protests. Only shots fired at two Jewish schools in Montreal. Only Jewish-owned businesses targeted with antisemitic profanity. A synagogue firebombed. Jewish students physically attacked on campus at Concordia University, as if to mock the name of their alma mater.

Democracy, technological progress – none of it has cured millennia-old, deep-seated hatred of a Jew. What has triggered it this time? Massacre of Jews in Israel, their ancestral homeland where they first settled more than 3,000 years ago.

As always, antisemitism puts on a mask, this time hiding under political slogans: Israel is a colonial, apartheid state, an oppressor. It commits genocide. But facts and statistics silence the
screams of the ignorant. Here, in the words of Eugene Dobrenko, Professor at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice: “The population of Gaza, this major ‘concentration camp’ under the sky, has
increased by eight times (!). 156 thousand Arabs that stayed in Israel in 1948 and became its citizens grew now to 2 million 100 thousand people. Eighty years later, the number of Jews still
hasn’t reached the numbers before Holocaust. Out of almost 900 thousand Jews who used to live in Muslim countries, today not more than 10 thousand are left. At the same time, the Arab
population of Israel has increased fifteen times. Where was this ethnic cleansing happening?” asks Professor Evgeny Dobrenko and provides us with further interesting facts, “Only 100 years
ago, Christians comprised about 25 percent of the population of Middle East. Now, there is less than five percent. In Syria, the Christians were a third of the population, now the numbers are
from eight to ten percent. In Lebanon, more than half of the population were Christians, now, it’s less than a third…”


I’m not saying that Israel is a perfect state. Every multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-denominational, multi-party democracy has its pressure points, its fissures. Israel has seen months-long demonstrations against the judicial reforms of their government.  That divided the nation … until it was attacked. But are any such protests thinkable in Gaza or in the West Bank, under a corrupt rule of Mahmoud Abbas who has not been re-elected since 2005?  Abbas’ ties with his own people are shaky, but his connection with the KGB (renamed now FSB) remains strong. It goes back to the Soviet times when he lived in Moscow and, under the tutelage of his handlers, and he defended a doctorate: The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement, the conspiracy theory and the libel the KGB promoted worldwide.

And here are some facts: Israeli minorities, Arab Israeli, can ride the same buses as Israelis, eat in the same restaurants, walk the same streets, hold the same jobs and live where they want. They got their citizenship while Arab Palestinians, 75 years later, remain refugees in Arab countries that never granted them any rights. They have two political parties in the Knesset (Israeli parliament). Forty percent of Israeli doctors are Arabs, working side-by-side with their Israeli colleagues. George Deek, a young Arab-Israeli ambassador in Azerbaijan, is a living example of upward mobility available to Arab Israelis.

Druze, the Arab-speaking minority, live peacefully in Israel and serve in elite Israeli troops. Many died defending their country, Israel. Bedouins were the ones who rushed to help and save Israelis attacked by Hamas.

Israelis are colonizers is yet another myth to be debunked.  No one living in their homeland can colonize it.

The Wailing Wall

The Wailing Wall

An independent state for Palestinians is one serious and truly complex issue that needs to be addressed and that antisemites use to justify massacres of Jews. Until recently many left-wing secular Israelis supported the idea of independent state for Palestinians. But the conservative, religious Jews disagree. For them the West Bank (ancient Judea and Samaria) is a sacred Biblical land that is not divisible. That’s where the Old City of Jerusalem with the Wailing Wall is, and Hebron with Patriarchs and Matriarchs buried. The majority of people living in Hebron now are Arabs.  But it has not always been that way. Hebron was a city of ancient Jewish community until 1929, when Arabs massacred all the Jews. In 1950, Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria. It was illegal, but the victors are not judged. Being attacked in 1967, Israel defeated Jordan and took over the West Bank. This is also considered illegal under international law but in this case, the victors were judged harshly.

It’s important to mention that already in 1967 Israel knew it made a mistake and offered to return the West Bank to Jordan. But Jordan refused. It was not interested in governing Palestinians, their fellow Arabs, who tried to overthrow Jordan’s monarchy in a bloody clash with the Jordanian army in 1970 Black September, as it went down in history.

The ultra-orthodox Jews, however, still believe that Samaria and Judea should be restored to the Jews that were expelled, hence the settlements.

Unlike Israeli Arabs, Palestinians do not want to live under or among Jews. They want their own state. What are Israel’s options? In practical terms, were Israel to annex the West Bank, the country would stop being a Jewish state, as Palestinians have a much higher birth rate than Jews. But if the Israelis agreed to an independent Palestinian state, they would have to move into bunkers, since rockets from a new state would reach every corner of Israeli tiny territory. But suppose, a new Palestinian state, instead of becoming an Iran’s proxy, would suddenly — by a wave of a magic wand — not love Jews, no, but tolerate them, the way Egypt or Jordan does now? It’s nice to dream on this side of the Atlantic, in front of a fireplace, a glass of wine in hand. It feels so good to be a peace-loving liberal distributing equal pieces of justice overseas. But good intentions rarely survive reality check.

In reality, the West Bank harbours three thousand members of Hamas and several thousand members of Islamic Jihad. To kill a Jew is profitable. For every murder a murderer is paid in cash, flowing from Gaza and Iran. At the time of this writing, several serious terror attacks were thwarted in Jerusalem.

The polls conducted in the West Bank after October 7, show that 85 percent of Palestinians support Hamas and hope it will win.


Israeli political commentators acknowledge that while the country is making steady progress in the battle against terrorists militarily, it is losing to Hamas ideologically. It’s especially true now, when the war in overpopulated Gaza inevitably leads to big casualties among civilians. Every child losing his or her life is too many, as Prime minister Netanyahu put it. If the civilian population of Gaza could be temporarily moved to a safe place, Israel would have achieved its goal of destroying Hamas and rescuing the hostages with fewer casualties and much faster. But none of the almost 50 Muslim countries of the world would take in Palestinians. Arab leaders, including Israel neighbours Jordan and Egypt, are paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, in reality wanting to have nothing to do with Palestinians. Perhaps angry pro-Palestinian crowds from the streets of Washington, Toronto, Montreal, London, Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires, from Brazil and China could airlift their brethren and welcome them into their homes while the Israeli army is cleaning Gaza from terrorists for the sake of Palestinians and Israeli?

Tunnel under Al-Shifa Hospital

Tunnel under Al-Shifa Hospital

For years, Israel has been providing fuel, electricity, medicine and water to Gaza for free. Israeli doctors were routinely treating sick children from Gaza in Israeli hospitals. Before the October 7 attack, thousands of Gazans crossed the border to work in Israel. As in peace, so it is in war: battling Hamas in Gaza, the Israeli army has been following a strict legal and ethical code of conduct. The IDF gave a three-week warning before entering Gaza. It formed humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave. It delivered incubators to Al-Shifa hospital, a sprawling compact of 13 buildings, built by Israel in the ‘60s, now the stronghold of Hamas. It makes every effort to evacuate civilians, while Hamas is doing the opposite: it shoots at their own people while they are trying to leave for a safer place. It uses civilians as human shields: digging tunnels under schools, hospitals and mosques. So far, this cynical tactic has worked: instead of blaming Hamas for the casualties, Israel is being accused of genocide. Those who do so, should first look up the definition of genocide.

Israeli soldiers know that they fight for the survival of their country. The IDF is a people’s army defending its people. It is the army where corruption or patronage have no place. Netanyahu’s youngest son Avner is now in the army fighting Hamas. And so are the sons and daughters of fifteen ministers. The personal doctor of Netanyahu lost his son in one of the previous wars. The doctor could have asked for a less dangerous position for his son (artillerymen are the first to be exposed to snipers). But this is not done in the Israeli army. Now the government has agreed to stop military actions for four days in exchange for 50 kidnapped women and children. The ratio: one Israeli kidnapped for three Palestinian prisoners plus tons of humanitarian help that the Israelis know would be used by Hamas. Mass media, in its attempt to be “fair”, shows the pictures of ”equal” joy on both sides. Here are Israeli children and women that were kidnapped. And here are Palestinians that were imprisoned for attempted terrorist attacks: many of their victims suffered knife wounds but managed to survive.

Roni Kriboy was abducted from the Nova music festival during the Hamas terror attack on October 7

Roni Kriboy was abducted from the Nova music festival during the Hamas terror attack on October 7.

Among one of the released is Israeli-Russian Roni Kriboy who managed to escape his captors but was caught and returned to Hamas by Gazans. Which begs the question: do Gazans want to be freed from the terror organization they once voted for or do they continue to collaborate with it?

The military knows: the only thing that forced Hamas to agree to release some hostages was a relentless bombardment and fire of the Israeli army. Yet the truce is putting the Israeli’s army in harm’s way. Every inch of the city of Gaza is mined. Apart from 50,000 armed and well-trained terrorists in Gaza, there are small groups of terrorists disguised as civilians. The truce may give Hamas a chance to regroup, to fix their communication systems, to move rocket launches to the South at the time when the IDF was coming close to eliminating Hamas fighters and moving to the next stage: destruction of tunnels. But Israel will not abandon the hostages. For their sake it is taking that risk. As the Prime minister said: We are not choosing between bad or good here. We are choosing between very bad and slightly better.


What do Israelis think about this world-wide hostility and antisemitism? The media outlets, the political analysts shake it off. Yes, it is unfair, but it has always been that way, no matter what Israel does or says. Instead, commentators focus on the situation at hand.

 The Israeli military’s Iron Dome air-defense system intercepts an incoming rocket from Gaza.

The Israeli military’s Iron Dome air-defense system intercepts an incoming rocket from Gaza. Photograph by Peter van Agtmael / Magnum for The New Yorker

The broadcasts are constantly interrupted by the sounds of sirens. More than 12,000 rockets were launched from Gaza and the onslaught continues in spite of IDF progress. Rockets shot by Iran-backed Houthis are reaching Eilat, the southern tip of Israel. In the North, Israel is trying to avoid a full-scale war with Lebanon, giving only a limited response to Hezbollah attacks. You have one minute-and-a-half to run to a safe room, reminds the announcer. – What if I’m driving while the rocket alarm sounds? – asked one viewer. – You have to leave the car and lie on the road face down for at least ten minutes covering your head with your hands. – I’m not young. Can I sit instead? – No. Vast experience confirms: those who sit get wounded in the stomach or groin. – What if we have no namad at home (a safe room)? – comes the next question. – Go to the furthest room in your apartment. Do not go into a bathroom and keep away from the windows. The shock wave will knock the glass out and you can be wounded. – What’s the situation in Samaria and Judea? – yet another question. – So far it’s under control, though the number of terrorist attacks is on increase. We managed to subdue several with drones. – But three people in Jerusalem were shot down, including a pregnant woman in the last months of pregnancy. – Our government has to protect us and it’s not doing enough! – Look, I think the judge made a terrible mistake. One of the terrorists who killed the woman had been in prison for a short time but was released. The judge decided that the young man had better chances to reform out of prison, than in prison. I agree, it was a terrible mistake. But let’s not lose hope. We will win this war and return our hostages. – Will Americans continue to support us or will they force us to stop fighting Hamas? – In President Biden’s words, “Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighbouring democracy off the map. And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder. America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world.”


Though political commentators in Israel are not focusing on world-wide condemnation of Israel, there was one man in the past, who took injustice personally, and thought he could shift the world’s negative perception of Israel by his actions. He believed peace with Palestinians could be achieved. That man was Israeli general and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In an interview to the Israel TV channel 9, Natan Sharansky quotes these reasons as the main ones behind Sharon’s decision for a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky was legendary among Soviet dissidents of the ‘70s. A chess prodigy and a mathematician, a close collaborator of Andrey Sakharov, a spokesman for the Moscow Helsinki Group and a leader for the rights of refuseniks, this short, soft-spoken man did not flinch under a full weight of KGB when he was accused of spying for CIA, a treason carrying the death sentence. Under the pressure from the West (President Carter personally interfered stating that Sharansky had no connections with the CIA), the death sentence was replaced by 13 years of labour camps. Unbroken, Sharansky continued to fight with numerous hunger strikes. When he was finally released in a prison exchange, and came to Israel, his political career soared: Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Minister of Housing and Construction, Minister of Industry and Trade, these were some of the positions he held. A close friend of Ariel Sharon, he nevertheless opposed Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza and had to resign from the Government.

Obviously, Sharon’s brave initiative brought no positive results. Hamas kept attacking Israel from Gaza in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2023, and world-wide antisemitism did not abide.




On November 9, the Beth Israel Congregation in Vancouver commemorated the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), a precursor of further violence against Jews ending in the Holocaust. For those who forgot, on that day, in 1938, the Nazi looted Jewish synagogues and businesses in Austria and Germany. Eighty-five years later, in Beth Israel, Holocaust survivors lit the candles and the government officials took the podium to assure the congregation that Jews should not be afraid, that the government will stand for them.

That was Canada, 2023.

The keynote speaker Janus Møller Jensen, Director of the Danish Jewish Museum, told the story that most in the congregation would have known. Yet, in the days of darkness, hearing the familiar story was comforting for many: in 1943, the Danes rescued 7,400 Jews refusing to obey the Nazi order of their deportation. They first hid Jews in their homes and then evacuated them by sea to neutral Sweden. Though the Danish King Christian X wearing a Yellow Star in support of Jews is a beautiful urban myth, what is true is that he helped to finance their crossing. When after the war, Jews returned home, they found their homes intact, a striking detail, compared to the most common scenarios of looting Jewish property almost everywhere else. In 2008, Putin’s tanks invaded Georgia. It was still possible then in Russia to protest and hundreds of Russian intellectuals came out into Bolotnaya Square to support the Georgians. They were wearing a badge: “I am a Georgian.”

I’m going to put up Mezuzah on my door, saying I’m a Jew.


Marina Sonkina,
November 2023


Marina Sonkina’s latest book Ukrainian Portraits: Diaries from the Border (Guernica Editions, 2023) is an account of her volunteer work helping refugees fleeing across the Ukrainian border, fleeing Russia’s unprovoked invasion. Because she speaks multiple languages, Sonkina was able to help process the fleeing families who were seeking refuge throughout Europe. Her website is at marinasonkina.com


Rudolf Vrba began teaching at UBC in 1975. He and his wife Robin lived on the campus for most of their marriage until his death in 2006. In 2023, on the UBC campus, now there is a student lawsuit in the works, claiming years of antisemitic incidents spanning decades, about which the institution did nothing.

In 2021, for this website( for and about WW II hero Rudolf Vrba), we interviewed retired University of British Columbia (UBC) professor George Bluman whose family had fled the Nazis and reached Vancouver. In this clip, Bluman recalls antisemitism at UBC, in the Engineering Department, back in early 1970s. Bluman ends the interview with a hopeful but incorrect surmise, “this could not happen now.”

The Vice-Chancellor of Germany speaks out in support of Jews
Supporting Hamas will be met with criminal charges or deportation.

The Whole History of antisemitism in 15 minutes