Shining Brightly in the Darkest Hour: The Jewish Battle Against Hate

I rolled over and glanced out our window overlooking Jerusalem. It was a serene Shabbat morning. We had waffle batter in the fridge, ready for a breakfast feast in the Sukkah. It was a beautiful fall day—October 7, 2023.

Seconds later, everything changed. The sirens pierced our ears with the threat of incoming missiles. My wife shouted for our son, my daughter called for the dog, and we all ran to my daughter’s room, which serves as our family’s bomb shelter. I quickly secured the four-inch-thick door and the iron window shutters to protect us from the oncoming blast and ensuing shrapnel. 

We huddled together through a series of explosions that reverberated through our bones. I finally looked at my phone to discover texts from friends, horrifying video footage, and preliminary reports—Hamas had attacked us again, but this time, we were being murdered in our homes, raped, and kidnapped. It was a massacre like I had never seen in my 18 years of living in Israel.

It ended up being the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust. Though an unprecedented tragedy to our generation, it’s an echo of the same hatred that’s plagued our people since Abraham.

There’s Always Been a Battle Against Hate

Since God set us apart, we’ve faced a disproportionate amount of opposition. It’s illogical and unrelenting, which alludes to the fact that it’s spiritual. When God puts His name on something, it inherently incurs attention and attack—and those attacks are on our physical existence, our emotional wellbeing, and our spiritual and religious identity.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Hamas invaded during a time that should be joyous with celebration of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah. It reminds me of another time when we were attacked and unable to observe Sukkot, a feast that celebrates the security and peace God has granted us in the Promised Land. When Antiochus invaded Judea in the second century BC, he wanted to Hellenize the Jews and demoralize us by desecrating the Temple, and our ancestors battled him for three years before they could restore our permanent place of worship. 

The Maccabees were the first of a long line of Jews who fought to defend our right to exist while surrounded by a dominant culture.

The Maccabees were the first of a long line of Jews who fought to defend our unique identity and right to exist in the face of a dominant surrounding culture. Almost 2,200 years later, we’re facing a similar threat. However, the battlefield looks a little different today. Since October 7, the vitriol has spread online, becoming a second battlefield. Misleading media coverage and woefully incorrect social media content has spread the wildfire of hatred to the streets of New York, London, Paris, Sydney, and many other cities worldwide. Thousands of protesters have not only gathered to stand against Israeli policies but have, at times, celebrated the rape, murder, and kidnapping of Jewish men, women, and children. Their hatred clearly didn’t hinge on Israeli politics, as it quickly escalated to violence against Jewish people living elsewhere. In the United States alone, antisemitic violence has spiked by 388 percent.

I watched in horror as I saw videos of protestors on the other side of the world chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a cry that denies Israel a home and a right to exist. Some slogans are even more straightforward: “Gas the Jews!” or “We don’t want no Jew state.” Reeling from the shock of the violence in my front yard, I hear the world cry, “Not only do you not deserve a land, you don’t even deserve to exist.” 

It’s an old script, torn from the pages of history. Not only does it reflect the lies of hatred, but it fails to reflect the reality I see here on the ground in Israel. Two years ago, after the last war with Hamas, I wrote an article on the truth that the media misses about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Much of it still rings true. 

There Have Always Been Allies in the Fight

As I hid with my family on that traumatic day in October, horrific thoughts flooded my mind: Are there terrorists already in our neighborhood? How long do we have until a Hamas supporter, clad in green with an M16 and a butcher knife, starts banging on my front door ready to stab my wife, rape my 14-year-old girl, or drag my 11-year-old sweet boy off to the West Bank to be tortured and never heard from again? Where can we hide? How can we protect ourselves? How far will this escalate? Will my Arab neighbors, contractors, pharmacists, doctors, and friends rise up against me?

I’ve since learned that many of my Arab neighbors were just as angry and just as afraid. They’re angry because such wars seem like another step back from a peace that feels palpably close some days. They’re afraid because they too are worried for their safety. There are real enemies to peace out there. But most people, whether Jewish or Arab, are simply trying to live their lives while stuck in the middle of a situation with little to no means of escape.

As black and white as the media tries to make the conflict seem, by polarizing or demonizing one side or the other, most Israelis and Palestinians are not in charge of our governments and are working towards a better future, one loving gesture at a time. In the darkness of the last month, I have witnessed small glimmers of hope. The Muslim grocery store clerk in a hijab gave me a kind smile on an impossibly hard day. A group of Jewish people in Jerusalem found ways to get groceries and gasoline to Christian friends stuck in Bethlehem. An Arab bus driver lamented that he felt brokenhearted and trapped by violence, too, and then handed me an extra water bottle from his bag and told me to drink because I looked exhausted. These simple moments capture the reality for many of us—one that the media doesn’t report.

These simple moments capture the reality for many of us—one that the media doesn’t report.

My Arab friends and neighbors don’t think of themselves as rebels or saints, but as decent humans with values. Their posture reminds me of the civilians of Denmark during World War II who collectively refused to give up their Jewish friends and neighbors to the Nazis. They went down in history for accomplishing the Hanukkah-level miracle of saving over 90 percent of their Jewish community. Most of these “ordinary Danes” refused to take any credit for their heroic actions. Like many Arabs today and many Gentile allies throughout history, the people of Denmark stood with the Jewish people because they saw through the lies of hate. 

I’m weary, but I’m committed to fanning the flames of hope rather than the hate that spreads more easily. In the last few weeks, I’ve spent most of my time alongside Jewish men and women as well as Muslim and Christian Arabs, serving 125 displaced Jewish families. We’re organizing day trips to the zoo or museums, hosting workshops and concerts, and sorting donated clothes to distribute—all in hopes of bringing some semblance of normalcy and care to those who have lost their homes and sense of security. Because it’s what our people were always called to do.

We’ve Always Been Called to Be a Light

The personification of the threats against us change, but our calling to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:6) is unchanged. Because it comes from God, it’s not a light that can be quenched by hardship or despair. Working with these families over the past few weeks has demonstrated to me how the darkness can never extinguish the light that God is shining through His people. 

Darkness can never extinguish the light that God is shining through His people.

As we prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, I think this is a truth we need to remember and celebrate. Let’s refuse to fight hatred with anger or react to division with despair. As the first-century Jewish follower of Jesus, John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (v. 1:5). May the inextinguishable light within us shine so brightly in this dark hour that it will point the world toward the One who created us and gives hope and peace to the world. 

Antiochus, Haman, Hitler, and Hamas may have tried to erase us, but God hasn’t given up on the Jewish people. Our continued existence is evidence of God’s provision and blessing over us from generation to generation. I’ve found solace in His words from Jeremiah 29:11, written to the people of Israel in exile: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” His promises are everlasting, and our only hope is in Him. He isn’t finished with us, and we aren’t going anywhere.


  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. “Hanukkah,” last updated November 8, 2023.
  2. ADL Records Dramatic Increase in U.S. Antisemitic Incidents Following Oct. 7 Hamas Massacre,” Anti-Defamation League, October 24, 2023.
  3. Stop and Think: Anti-Israel Chants and What They Mean,” Anti-Defamation League, November 2, 2023.
  4. Erin Blakemore, “Why 90 Percent of Danish Jews Survived the Holocaust,” History, updated August 11, 2023.