October 7, 2023, saw the loss of more Jewish lives than on any single day since the Holocaust.  Innocent civilians – babies, elderly people in wheelchairs, parents trying to shield their children from bullets, youth enjoying music in the desert, people simply trying to live their lives peacefully in their own country – were brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists.  Many others were kidnapped, taken by force to Gaza, where they are being held as hostages.  Hamas committed war crimes against defenseless Israeli citizens.  The attack was an act of war.

Israel has responded militarily, as it has every right to do.  The response has cost the lives of thousands of Gazans.  A key pillar of Hamas’s terror operations is the deliberate use of civilians as human shields by situating its rocket launchers, weapons caches, command centers, and other military targets in or near schools, hospitals, mosques, and residential areas. 

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Asheville (JCRC) laments the loss of ALL innocent life.  Our mission statement commits us to “combatting all forms of racial and ethnic hatred and prejudice,” specifically including antisemitism, but also including baseless anti-Muslim or anti-Arab hatred. 

The greatest current danger to our Jewish community is the rise of antisemitism, expressed in a variety of forms in multiple places. Some seek to justify the Hamas terrorism by “contextualizing” it – placing the blame on repression of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, as if the murder of innocent civilians were a justifiable act of liberation.  On campuses, in city streets, in front of synagogues and other Jewish spaces, and in social media, Jews are being targeted for the actions of the sovereign state of Israel. We are witnessing genocidal chants from protestors calling for the eradication of the world’s only Jewish nation and for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their own land.

In such a time of crisis for the Jewish people, it is our role to speak out and to offer support to our community. Please visit our website, www.jcrcgreaterasheville.org for resources and to learn more about the JCRC and what assistance we can provide. We also welcome you to consider joining us in our efforts to combat hate. To get involved with the JCRC, please contact jcrc828@gmail.com.