October 7, much like Pearl Harbor or September 11, 2001, is a day that will forever be etched in infamy for Israel and Jews worldwide. Not since the Holocaust have so many Jewish people been killed in a single day. This was not a random act; it was a meticulously planned and incentivized scheme aimed at obstructing the progress of peace in the Middle East. Brutality, depravity, and inhumanity were inflicted upon civilians in their homes, on the quiet streets of kibbutzim, and even at a music festival promoting peace. Kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder were celebrated by Hamas terrorists, as captured in their own recordings. This was not an attack on a military base following the rules of war; it was an overt, visible, posted litany of war crimes committed by a group that does not value any human life, viewing people as human shields or worse.
What the world witnessed was not acts of bravery by resistance fighters, partisan soldiers overcoming a tyrannical rule, or the occupied overthrowing an occupying force. Plainly, this is a fight of good versus evil. Unfortunately, many have purposely muddied the waters of this war. It is not an Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it is a war between Israel, on behalf of civilized people everywhere, against the very depths of evil. The protests occurring in the streets and on college campuses do not target the Israeli government or its policies. The chants of “Death to the Jews,” “Gas the Jews,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” are clear in their desire. These groups wish for ethnic cleansing and genocide; they do not want a two-state solution, and they do not want Israel to exist at all, not in the Middle East, not anywhere. Anti-Zionism is a thinly veiled cover story for antisemitism. Some individuals who advocate for marginalized populations seem to exclude Jews from their support. Interviews of people at protests, completely ignorant of the facts or even the meaning of what they chant, are littered across social media. The post-Holocaust rallying cry, “Never again,” is happening now, as Jews are targeted for harassment, discrimination, and murder.
Medicine’s role is clear. We value the sanctity of life. There is a humanitarian crisis in the region. Fortunately, some have volunteered to assist through the Ministry of Health. Others have participated in securing necessary equipment, supplies, and materials. Furthermore, others have donated financially to Magen David Adom or the International Red Crescent and Red Cross. This is the true spirit of practicing medicine, helping others to heal as best we can.
Yet, there are still others among us. Those who demonstrate, post, and celebrate the terroristic acts committed during the atrocity that was October 7. Babies never deserve decapitation. Families never deserve to be bound and burned alive. Those who support terrorism simply have no place in the health care field, as they violate the very oath they swore to uphold – protecting and caring for those in need. Imagine what the response would be if there were calls for lynching from large street mobs. Consider how society reacts when any other demographic replaces Jews as the target in these protests, publications, or posts; there would be an outcry vilifying them and drowning them out. How does medicine seek to dispel racism, address discrimination, and avoid unconscious bias and micro-aggressions when overt antisemitism is not swiftly and uniformly condemned? Universities have regrettably appeared ineffective when pressured to take the right course of action. One month later, some have been forced to rescind and revise their statements, while others have still yet to take action to protect their Jewish populations. This is not about freedom of speech or freedom to express oneself. If you preach hatred against a federally protected class of citizens as a health care worker, you no longer deserve the privilege of caring for others, lest you overtly and purposely provide them with substandard and negligent care. Thankfully, some institutions, employers, and States are taking this as seriously as they should, firing and otherwise disciplining them. We are held to a higher standard and a higher moral authority for a reason.
Health care should stand united in rooting out this evil, excising it like the malignant tumor on the human conscience it truly is. I anticipate that the entire medical community will soon release stronger statements. Until then, I remain ashamed of some medical institutions that call themselves institutes of higher learning and of organizations that sought fit to comment on then-current events but are noticeably absent now. The silence is deafening, reminiscent of the medical profession in 1930s Nazi Germany.
Joshua D. Lenchus is an internal medicine physician.