Evelyn Markus is a Dutch-born activist against anti-Semitism. The daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, she made the acclaimed film Never Again Is Now (about Muslim anti-Semitism) in 2019 and hosts the Never Again Is Now Podcast. She is also a Founding Member of the anti-Islamist CLARITy Coalition.
An old friend and colleague of our Founder Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Evelyn’s perspective on the ongoing conflict in Israel is invaluable, and AHA Foundation is proud to publish it.
Not long after the shock of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, I was, like everyone else, trying to make sense of the brutality unleashed upon America that day. At that time, I was still living in my native country, the Netherlands, and one day, driving in my car, I heard the most compelling analysis of 9/11 I had yet heard on the radio, courtesy of a tiny local radio station.
I just had to stop the car and take notes on what this speaker was saying. She argued that the jihadists were motivated not by revenge or poverty. They were motivated by their religious ideology. This ideology, Islamism, detested women, gays, Jews, atheists, and all those of other religions who didn’t submit.
The speaker’s name, of course, was Ayaan Hirsi Ali. At that time, Ayaan was relatively unknown, but she had spoken the truth while many other experts failed to see clearly the nature of the threat posed to the West by the Islamists. Eventually, I reached out to Ayaan and asked her to join me in my fight against anti-Semitism, which was on the rise in the Netherlands as a result of Muslim migration. She agreed to help, and we have been friends and colleagues ever since.
Last month, on October 7, when the Islamist terrorists of Hamas perpetrated the largest mass killing of Jews since the Holocaust, I immediately thought of Ayaan’s 9/11 analysis. October 7 feels like Israel’s 9/11. The gruesome murders, rapes, and abductions conducted by Hamas sickened me. I have family and friends in Israel, some of whom had to attend countless funerals after October 7.
And yet some people still don’t get it. Hamas is not motivated by a genuine desire to help the Palestinians but by fanatical Jew-hatred. If they truly desired a two-state solution, why would they commit atrocities reminiscent of the Nazis? Beheadings, torture, slaughter, rape? These are the actions of people who want to destroy Israel and exterminate the Jews, not liberators. These are the actions of people who hate women, especially Jewish women, and want to make them suffer, not freedom fighters.
As a Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors, I take these signs seriously. Just read Hamas’s original charter of 1988. It reads like Mein Kampf. And all over the world, it feels like the 1930s are happening all over again. Anti-Semitic slurs abound; Jewish buildings burnt down; rampant anti-Semitism on social media; crowds chanting for jihad and the death of the Jews. Around the corner from my home, a man invaded the home of a Jewish family, screaming “Free Palestine!”, and threatening to kill them. All around the world, Jews fear for their safety, for their very existence. They hide their Jewishness and their love for Israel out of fear.
Students for Justice in Palestine is an organization connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It has branches on over 200 college campuses in the United States. It has mobilized groups of students to celebrate the October 7 attacks and glorify Hamas as the revolutionary vanguard fighting for the liberation of the ‘oppressed.’
For instance, a Cornell professor said that the October 7 attacks were “exhilarating” and “energizing.” This is terrifying to me. Just like in the 1930s, Jews are seen as sub-human, their suffering is discounted, and people just watch, and even cheer, as the most vicious forms of anti-Semitism raise their ugly heads again. Jewish victims are not human victims, it seems.
I am heartbroken to watch the suffering of the Gazans as Israel responds, of course. I am in favor of humanitarian aid, so long as it doesn’t get into the hands of Hamas. But I do not agree with those who advocate for a ceasefire. Hamas would only profit from a ceasefire, and, though human suffering must be kept to a minimum, Hamas must be eradicated. I also hope that a post-Hamas Palestinian settlement is possible, but I fear, given the anti-Semitism prevalent among ordinary Palestinians, that this too would be dangerous for Israel.
Who knows what will happen in the next few weeks, months, years? As Westerners, we tend to believe automatically in win-win solutions to problems and conflicts. But in the Middle East, a zero-sum philosophy is the default. If Israel, following the Western win-win model, helped to build a Palestinian state, it could backfire and lead to a new Holocaust, because its new neighbor might see this, in zero-sum terms, as an opportunity to wipe out what it might regard as its oldest and worst enemy. After all, that is what “from the river to the sea” really means: the annihilation of Israel.
I don’t have any answers. Nobody does. I weep for Israel and for the Jewish people. But I am heartened to receive the support of friends and colleagues, particularly those in the anti-Islamist CLARITy Coalition, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I think CLARITy, which was set up with the help of AHA Foundation, is the best hope for peace in the Middle East. By championing liberal, secular ideals over Islamist ones, it can encourage a win-win mentality among the populations of the Middle East. I am also grateful for AHA Foundation’s campus program, which encourages free and respectful dialogue rather than hateful threats and closed-mindedness. Both these initiatives deserve support.
Thank you to AHA Foundation for allowing me the space to reflect on these terrible events. I don’t know what the future holds, but I have to cling to hope. Never again is indeed now, so let us hope that we live up to those words.