Mariel Joy Kornblith Martin
Like many Jews around the world, I am glued to the news, both streaming and on TV, trying to make sense of the atrocities that took place on Oct. 7, the last day of our High Holidays, where we celebrate the completion of the annual reading of our Torah.
The same feelings that overwhelmed me when I visited Auschwitz, the strategic dehumanizing, the harrowing atmosphere of crossing the train track and bearing witness to the systematic approach to slaughtering the Jewish people, is the same feeling of dread and despair I felt when I first heard Israel was under attack and civilians were targeted.
Having taken my Birthright after graduating from Dickinson College in 2007, I remember visiting Israeli bunkers, walking the roads in the holy land, the Bedouin tents, and picking onions at a kibbutz. Most of all, I remember the people, the food and the vast military presence.
Simchat Torah will always be a day when I will remember the largest slaughtering of the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Yet our enemy was planning for years and was prepared while we became complacent.
Senior Hamas official Ali Baraka noted on Russia Today TV, “Of course, we made them think that Hamas was busy with governing Gaza, and that it wanted to focus on the 2.5 million Palestinians and has abandoned the resistance altogether. All the while, under the table, Hamas was preparing for this big attack.” Further stating, “I hear the Israelis are known to love life. We, on the other hand, sacrifice ourselves. We consider our dead to be martyrs. The thing any Palestinian desires most is to be martyred for the sake of Allah, defending his land …”
We must listen and not try to rationalize away the words of our enemies. Palestine should be free: free of Hamas, a terrorist organization democratically elected once and only once that has taken their people hostage since 2006.
I live in South Philadelphia, an area that has long had a flourishing Jewish community that was once home to 150 rowhouse shuls signifying the differing sects of the Jewish community. It is where I serve on State and City Committee, on my Ward Board, work as a political operative and raise my Jewish family.
I live mere blocks from Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron Ezras Israel, South Philadelphia’s oldest continuously active synagogue building and congregation. Yet despite representing historic Jewish areas and one of the largest Jewish populations in the U.S., when I called state Rep. Elizabeth Fielder’s office on Oct. 13 after noting that she has been silent on social media and did not make any statements in her weekly newsletter, her staff stated, “What terrorist attack?”
Like many Jews, I have turned to elected leaders to squash the panic and fear as I consider if my family can go pray this weekend or if the call to global jihad will redirect our Jewish pursuits. This past week, I tried to explain antisemitism to my 7-year-old while cradling my 12-week-old. My heart broke when she said, “So they hate us just because we are Jewish?”
As the week progressed, more details emerged, and the face of evil displayed itself. Yet my state reps have either stayed silent, backing their Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) affiliation and their pro-Hamas agenda, or have issued a tepid statement only after their chief of staff was called out for spreading pro-Hamas social media posts celebrating the death and rape of women and children, the beheading of babies, the burning of bodies, the execution of the elderly and the kidnapping of hundreds.
Fiedler and state Sen. Nikil Saval represent one of the largest Jewish populations in the United States. We are your constituents, and we will remember. As state Rep. Jared Solomon noted, “In times like this, being divided is tragic. Allyship is comfort.”
Mariel Joy Kornblith Martin is a political consultant who works in South Philadelphia.