When a person is physically distanced from a terror attack it is easy to mentally disconnect and think, “That could never happen to me.”
Over the past year, global terror has intensified.
Israel has witnessed it all year, not just on October 7 when Hamas terrorists breached the border between Israel and Gaza to commit heinous acts of terror against innocent civilians including murder, rape, and kidnapping. On January 27, a Jerusalem synagogue was attacked. On April 7, three British nationals visiting Israel to celebrate Passover were murdered. Time and time again, Israel has faced terrorist attacks and much of the world has turned a blind eye, chalking it up to a geopolitical issue from which they can detach.
But terror attacks can happen anywhere.
I have lived in Las Vegas for eight years, and I decided to spend a year in Israel before enrolling in university. Until the Hamas attack on October 7, I had never felt physical danger.
On December 6 my home city’s college, University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), faced a shooting. While I was not physically present, my father and many of my close friends were. Fortunately, no one I knew was injured or physically harmed by the perpetrator, but the mental toll is evident.
The threat of violence exists everywhere and complacency ensures that it will never end.
When the Israel-Hamas war began, many of my fellow program participants left the country as fast as they could, and I initially did as well. I stayed in England with my grandmother for more than a month.
While there, my friends and I were forced to hide our Judaism for fear of violence. This has been a common experience for my Jewish friends across the world.
On college campuses, including UNLV, there have been antisemitic graffiti, threats of another intifada (wave of violence), and extreme anti-Israel rhetoric. There have been incidents of violence committed against Jews globally.
Despite this, many people who had previously advocated against violence remained silent. This includes the Black Lives Matter movement, which garnered heavy progressive support due to its positions on police brutality and racism against black people. However, after the October 7 attack, a Chicago chapter of BLM veered away from the organization’s purported mission by posting a picture of a Hamas paraglider, appearing to celebrate the October 7 atrocity.
Additionally, top-ranked colleges Harvard, MIT, and UPenn failed Jewish students when they did not condemn calls for Jewish genocide. There is a double standard regarding violence as it pertains to Jewish people. The silence and support in response lead to a global society where the murder of innocent people is perceived as justice.
When I decided to return to Israel in late November, many people cited the inherent risks due to the ongoing war. People asked me to come home to Las Vegas to ensure my safety. Now many of those people were caught on campus during the recent shooting incident.
Shootings on college campuses have been prevalent throughout the past year, including at many institutions that my friends attend. UNC, Michigan State, and Georgia State to name a few. While they may pale in comparison to the October 7 massacre, there is a pattern to much of this violence that shows parallels to the Hamas attacks: the perpetrators have sought to cause maximum damage.
If this isn’t recognized, the cycle will continue.
The lesson must be: Stand up to hatred and violence even when it doesn’t directly affect you. Because it soon might.
Amber Lovat, who resides in Las Vegas, is currently interning at HonestReporting during her Masa-run Aardvark gap year in Israel program.
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