Update on Israel 10-17-23

Oct. 17, 2023—

Dear Friends,

We hope you had a restful weekend. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us and made use of our resources so far. Every day is a new opportunity to use the lessons of the Holocaust to galvanize more Upstanders in our community!

We are honored to have another opportunity to recognize an elected leader who has made a similar commitment. Today, Congresswoman Kathy Castor visited the Museum, meeting with Museum leadership as well as Holocaust Survivor Toni Rinde. In a joint video message with Museum Chair Mike Igel, Rep. Castor affirmed her support for our mission, our community, and Israel. Representative Castor can be reached here. Please take a moment to thank her.


As we’ve mentioned before, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism is especially useful in situations where the antisemitic nature of an incident is being questioned. Too many people have tried to reframe Hamas’ actions – and those who justify them – to remove the antisemitism at their core. IHRA, which has been adopted by more than 40 countries, as well as countless municipalities, universities, and companies, speaks to this directly, clearly defining the following as antisemitic:

·      Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

·      Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

·      Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

·      Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

·      Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Each of these has been present in the past 10 days, and we urge all members of the civilized world to call out antisemitism when they see it.

How we talk about these issues matters. The Florida Holocaust Museum is dedicated to honoring the victims and survivors of genocide, and we’re particularly careful when using the word. Similarly, our interest is heightened when the word is used incorrectly. The word has an internationally accepted definition, and applying it to situations that don’t meet that definition offends everyone who knows what genocide really is.

Under the United Nations Genocide Convention, genocide requires specified behaviors coupled with “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Hamas, its charter, and its supporters have been quite clear that their central goal is the wholesale destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, and are therefore genocidal.

Israel’s actions are not beyond reproach, but cannot be reasonably construed to meet those criteria.

These are difficult topics to discuss in any setting, let alone with children. We’ve heard from both parents and schools looking for support in communicating these ideas to young people, and can recommend our resources for educators, available here. Parents can also use our statement, which draws on the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire positive action in support of the victims of this tragedy.

One vitally important concept that we cannot afford to neglect is the fact that Hamas’ actions were antisemitic, regardless of the political context. As we mentioned in a previous update, they weren’t targeting all Israelis – they were targeting Jews. We urge everyone to continue inspiring one another to be Upstanders during this difficult time.

Jews around the world have been targeted by those who hold them responsible for Israel’s actions, a definitionally antisemitic act according to IHRA. We never want to see the horrible principle of collective guilt applied to any other population; tragically, it resulted in a 6-year-old Muslim boy in Chicago being murdered by someone who held him responsible for Hamas’ actions. We mourn the senseless death of Wadea Al Fayoume. Such violence is repugnant no matter who is being targeted, and we fervently hope that no one else is harmed by the misplaced hatred of bigots.

Please reach out to us if we can provide any additional resources. We wish you all the best.

Michael Igel
Chairman of the Board
The Florida Holocaust Museum
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Carl Goodman
President & CEO
The Florida Holocaust Museum
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