Statement by The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies
In the early morning of Saturday, Shabbat, October 7th, 2023, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Israel’s southern border communities were invaded by more than 1,500 Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip. Within just a few hours, the terrorists, who had prepared for this attack for many months, targeted and slaughtered more than 1,200 Israeli citizens, among them babies, young children, elderly people, caregivers, Holocaust survivors, as well as many young men and women, including Israeli soldiers and other security personnel who rushed to the area.
The victims were the residents of small Kibbutzim–communal agricultural villages–located close to the Israeli border with Gaza, as well as of small cities, such as Sderot and Ofakim. In many families, three generations were shot dead in just a few minutes. Some 260 young people who spent the holiday in an outdoor music festival were the victims of this murderous attack. Approximately 150 Israeli citizens, among them young children and elderly people, and a number of foreign nationals (Americans, Britons, Germans, Thais, Mexicans, Brazilians and Nepalis) are now held hostage, captive in the hands of Hamas in Gaza. This unprecedented attack has started a war between Israel and Hamas, a group that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007. The United States officially designates Hamas a terrorist organization.
In this difficult time, the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies mourns those many people in Israel who lost their lives in Hamas’s barbaric terror attack. We stand in solidarity and support with the people of Israel and with all the innocent victims of the current violence.
Hamas’s brutal attack is the worst that the Jewish people has suffered since the end of the Second World War, and is comparable in scale and barbarity to Nazi-era atrocities. The implications of the attack cannot be underestimated. The attack threatens the peace and security of the citizens of Israel, of Jewish communities around the world, and of Palestinians living in Gaza, many of whom are themselves de facto hostages of Hamas. The attack also threatens the stability of the whole region and beyond.
Acts of human cruelty, such as those perpetrated by Hamas terrorists, are nurtured by disinformation, widespread ignorance, and ongoing incitement. In the Arizona Center of Judaic Studies, we, who have lived in Israel and studied its complex reality for decades, believe that responsible scholarship and the spread of knowledge are foundations of any dialogue and understanding among people. We work to pursue our research and education in the field of Jewish culture with this belief in mind. We will continue, tirelessly, to fulfill this mission by promoting knowledge of Jewish civilization in its many expressions, Israeli society being one of them.
In the book of Deuteronomy (30:19), the people of Israel are ordered: “Choose life.” This command has long defined the value of human life as a pillar of Jewish culture. At the ACJS, we believe in the sanctity of human life and the right of human beings to live in security, dignity and freedom.
In these days of darkness, heartbroken and grieving as we are, we will continue with our work in the hopes of contributing to a better future for all.