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Crisis in Israel

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How to Respond

Crisis in Israel

Recently we have witnessed the most horrific terrorist attacks in Israel’s history. Bands of terrorists infiltrated towns and Kibbutzim across the south of Israel and randomly and brazenly murdered and kidnapped men, women and children, and elderly citizens, in their homes including the disabled and injured.

Even as Israel is engaged in efforts to make peace with additional countries in the Middle East, Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on a Jewish holiday, slaughtering over 300 civilians and wounding over 1,500. We can’t even count the number of hostages– including young children and mothers, violently forced over the border and into the Gaza Strip at gunpoint.

This attack is more barbaric than anything we’ve ever seen or imagined. This is their 9/11. Israelis across the political spectrum are unified against this horror.  So is our Jewish community and our Jewish Federation.

Photo Credit: Ilan Lorenzi

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Solidarity Rally

Just three days after the unprovoked attack on Israel, we brought more than 750 members of our community together to comfort each other and show our support for Israel. View the full video of the solidarity rally here.



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Hear From Israelis on the Ground

Listen to first hand accounts by three Israelis currently living in high risk areas of the country.


If you’re interested in studying in Israel, check out scholarship opportunities offered through the Israel Institute.

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View the following stories shared by individuals from Israel.

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Talking with Children about the Crises

Watch child psychologists Elaine Fisher and Amy Weinberger discuss how you can learn to navigate these difficult conversations about events in Israel with your children or grandchildren.

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Historic March

WATCH: Sarasota-Manatee at the Historic March For Israel in Washington, D.C.

A Mother Shares

Her Story

While on Jewish Federation’s Solidarity Mission to Israel, our Federation CEO Shepard Englander listened to a mother whose children and ex-husband were kidnapped by Hamas.

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Watch Broadway stars sing “Bring Them Home”

Bearing Witness and Fighting

Back in Court

Learn about happenings on the ground in Israel and how these legal warriors are fighting back in court!

The Realities on

the Ground

The Realities on the Ground” briefing and conversation with Dr. Moran Yarchi, special advisor to the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman and a professor and senior researcher on counter terrorism at Reichman University.

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Make a Gift to Support Israel

Please consider making a gift to Jewish Federations’ collective Israel Emergency Fund to support our partners on the ground, including, among many others, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Joint Distribution Committee. All funds raised will go to the areas of greatest need.

While Israeli society will never be the same, together, we can help the victims of the war, rebuild critical infrastructure, and look towards the future.

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Be Active in the Community

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Show Your Support with A Blue Ribbon
  • Show Your Support with a Blue Ribbon
    • Stop by the Federation office and pick up your Blue Ribbon for Israel.
      • Snap a pic, share it on social media, hashtag it #BlueRibbonsforIsrael, and tag @JFEDSRQ!
Keep Our Community Safe
  • Report suspicious or antisemitic incidents.


Take immediate action to demand hostages taken by Hamas be released.

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Donate to ongoing relief efforts and support our partners on the ground helping Israelis recover and rebuild.

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Support small businesses in Israel by shopping with them online.

Post on Social Media

Check out social media posts that you can share to show your solidarity.

Special Israel Edition

To learn more about the happenings in Israel and explore available resources, be sure to check out this special Israel edition via the Jewish News of Sarasota-Manatee.



Common & inaccurate narratives how to respond

“These are freedom fighters.”
  • No, this is Hamas. Hamas is an Iran-backed terrorist organization designated as such by the United States and the European Union. Founded in 1987, Hamas’s charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
  • While some reports have speculated that Iran was involved in the planning and implementation of the attack, neither the Israeli nor U.S. governments have confirmed Iran’s role at this time. In a tweet sharing a video of Israelis running for their lives, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for “the Zionist regime” to be “eradicated.”
“Hamas is just trying to help its people.”
  • No. Hamas is a genocidal, radical, Islamic terrorist organization that is committed to the annihilation of the state of Israel and the Jewish people.
  • They use their people as human shields – and their people are the ones who thus suffer the most. Since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 rather than use the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid given to buildr a vibrant Palestinian community, Hamas has used the money to build terror tunnels, to stockpile illegal munitions, and to provoke the Israeli army.
  • Hamas has been proven to store weapons in mosques, hospitals, schools, and UN facilities.  The organization has deliberately impeded progress towards establishing a two-state solution.
  • Massacres and hostage-taking aren’t humanitarian acts of service. They are war crimes.
  • As President Joe Biden said: “Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian’s people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
“Israel deserves this after everything they’ve done to the Palestinians.”
  • Victim-blaming is never justified. Hamas explicitly targets innocent civilians and is proud of its brutality – the rape, murder, and kidnapping of women, children and the elderly – and brazenly puts these images on social media to create fear.
  • Hamas intentionally targeted civilians. In one case, a Hamas terrorist live-streamed the murder of a grandmother and posted it on her Facebook account.
  • These actions are illegal under every international law of war.
  • Israel has made numerous attempts to peacefully end the conflict over many decades and Palestinian leadership has continued to rebuke such offers, instead opting for an escalation of hostility towards Israel and Israelis.
  • Hamas  has worked to derail peace efforts through terrorism by opposing any steps that would allow Israel to exist in any form.
  • Israel has historically and regularly supplied Gaza with food, water, and electricity. In 2021, Israel sent approximately 104,000 truckloads of supplies–goods, food, and medical equipment–through the Kerem Shalom border crossing in Gaza, which was destroyed during the attack.
  • About 20% of Israel’s population identify as Arab or Palestinian Israelis. They are entitled to the same rights to security and protection from terror as Jewish citizens of Israel.
“This is the same thing Israel has done to the Palestinians for 75 years”
  • False moral equivalency between Hamas terrorists and the Israeli Defense Forces is dangerous and disempowers the Jewish state from protecting its citizens, who are both Jewish and non-Jewish. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which predates the 1948 War of Independence, is a dispute that is about narrative as much as it is about the territory itself.
  • Since the creation of the State of Israel, Israel has faced non-stop existential threats from surrounding countries and therefore has created the defense and deterrence capabilities necessary to defend her citizens. It has also proven, in the cases of Egypt and Jordan, that it is willing and able to create a peaceful resolution – including giving up land – in exchange for the end of hostilities.
  • There has never been a moment of peace with Hamas. Furthermore, there are established systems and processes to resolve political and territorial disputes, which are not unique to Israel and the Palestinian territories.  
“Gaza is an open-air prison and it’s Israel’s fault because of the occupation/blockade.”
  • Hamas has been in control of Gaza since Israel withdrew all civilian and military presence from Gaza in 2005 in the hopes of establishing peace with a Palestinian controlled territory. In exchange for disengaging from Gaza, militant factions, many of which are funded as Iran’s terror proxies with the sole mission to destroy Israel, have continually terrorized Israeli communities.
  • Hamas is responsible for the lack of investment in civilian infrastructure and has failed to build a better life for their people.
  • Israel has established the necessary security infrastructure to prevent the illegal smuggling of weapons into and out of Gaza. Despite its best efforts, however, terrorists continue to hide weapons in humanitarian aid packages and to use building materials intended for hospitals and schools to build miles of subterranean terror tunnels into Israeli neighborhoods.
“Palestinians have had way more people die - what happened in Israel is nothing in comparison.”
  • Hamas and other terrorist leadership in Gaza cynically uses their own populations as human shields. The loss of every innocent life is tragic. The biggest impact of the ongoing conflict is the general Palestinian population living under the authoritarian rule of Hamas.
  • Israel has taken great lengths to prevent innocent casualties, including canceling critical missions to prevent terror attacks, if there is intelligence that innocent people are in harm’s way.
  • Hamas and other terror groups store their weapons and command centers in Mosques, schools, hospitals, and UN buildings using their own civilians as human shields.
“Israel should practice restraint”
  • In the days and weeks following the horrendous massacre committed on October 7, 2023, there will be much analysis to understand how such atrocities took place. In the meantime, Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces must do what is necessary to protect Israeli citizens and secure the Israeli borders.
  • Until now, the strategy of deterrence rested on the assumption that Hamas was not interested in a full scale war, nor was it capable of it. Last weekend’s events show that Hamas and its determination to humiliate, dehumanize, and destroy Israel requires the fullest response possible.  
“Palestinians have tried the non-violent path before and this is a natural reaction to the occupation.”
  • Since 2005 alone more than 20,000 rockets have been fired into Israel. It has taken soldiers and civilians hostage, perpetrated violence across the border, and illegally smuggled weapons in and out of Gaza. Hamas has continually said that it has no interest in a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
“Israel doesn’t want peace - and they’re committing genocide”
  • Israel has demonstrated through peace agreements, disengagement, shared security infrastructure (e.g. helping Egypt rid the Sinai of ISIS) and other agreements (e.g. water and electricity agreements with Jordan) that they will work with anyone in the region who will work with them.
“Israel’s response must be proportionate.”
  • “Proportionality” is a term of legal significance. It does not mean that each side must suffer the same number of casualties, or use the same tactics.
  • Under international law, it is illegal to intentionally target civilians with military force. However, international law recognizes that military actions directed against legitimate targets of strategic value sometimes result in civilian casualties. The doctrine of proportionality outlines the standard armed forces must consider when weighing military action.
  • The doctrine of proportionality dictates that military action cannot be “excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” Stated simply, this means that the balancing test to determine whether military action is “proportionate” is done in relation to the threat being faced. In this situation, it means Israel must respond to the threat of Hamas’ continued rule in Gaza, which is an existential one for the safety and security of its civilians, Jewish and Arab alike.
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