New Jersey is over 5,000 miles away from Gaza, but the pain, agony and hurt doesn’t feel so far away, especially for the tens of thousands in Hudson County.

Residents have taken to social media and rallies to show their support towards Palestine and Israel and wishing for an end to the violence that has left thousands of innocent people dead. 

Two weeks ago, a rally was held in North Bergen where attendees held signs in support of Palestine’s freedom as they repeated “Free, free Palestine!” Neturei Karta, an international organization of Orthodox Jews who are against Zionism, were also in attendance where one member took to the podium and condemned the actions of Israeli authorities, saying:

“They didn’t do anything that’s Jewish, yet they dare to claim to the world that God, in the name of Judaism, is giving them the right to the land and the people living there.” 

The scene was the same, if not more intensified, where hundreds gathered in Jersey City’s Journal Square Plaza last Friday. Families, friends and local leaders gathered near the Starbucks to block out the pouring rain. Among the speakers were former Jersey City Board of Education President Mussab Ali, who initiated conversations for the event, Jersey City Councilman Yousef Saleh, who is Palestinian and Meera Jaffrey of Jewish Voice For Peace.

“We need to raise our voices to demand justice for Palestine,” Jaffrey told the crowd.

Just a couple counties over, thousands gathered on the streets of Paterson to rally against the war in the Middle East. 

“The slaughter of our people, unfortunately, isn’t new to us. But we have to remember that it’s not normal — that it’s not OK,” said Wassim Kanaan, the chairman of the New Jersey chapter of American Muslims for Palestine. 

Back in Hudson County, days before rallies began to commence, Hoboken and the Jersey City Heights hosted their own vigils for Israel and Palestine. In Hoboken, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Governor Phil Murphy showed support to the Jewish community and prayed for the innocent Israeli and Palestinians affected by the attacks. 

In Jersey City, Mayor Steve Fulop put out a statement as soon as news broke about the attacks. 

 

 

 

 

His latest related post was on Saturday, a day after the Journal Square rally. 

 

Fulop has been a huge advocate for fighting anti-semitism. In 2019, four people died in a kosher deli in Jersey City in what was later identified as an anti-semitic attack. Of the four was police Detective Joseph Seals; Mindy Ferencz, 31, the store’s co-owner; Moshe Deutsch, 24, a customer; and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, a store employee.

 Not too far from where the memorial was held for Seals stands Saint Peter’s University, where Dr. David Gerlach, the director of the university’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, told Slice of Culture that he’s seen the impact of the ongoing war on SPU’s community.

Sitting in on a colleague’s class just days after the Hamas attack happened, Gerlach listened as students calmly discussed both sides of the situation voicing their thoughts and expressing frustration at the media’s “seemingly one-sided presentation of the conflict” that they believed did not take into account the “decades of conflict and the dire situation in Gaza.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

The current  Israel-Hamas war is not anything new. 

It’s deeply rooted to more than a century worth of friction affecting Israelis and Palestinians and at times, nearby countries. Recently in 2021, Israel threatened to evict Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, which led to standoffs between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters. Hamas, who has been ruling Gaza since 2007, fired rockets at Jerusalem as a response, which then led to Israel sending airstrikes to Gaza. The attacks happened for 11 days killing over 200 people, the majority of them were Palestinians living in Gaza. 

Since the attacks on Oct. 7, 2023 over 5,000 people have been killed in Gaza, 62 percent being women and children and over 15,000 people have been injured. According to Israel officials, over 1,400 people have been killed in Israel and 200 people have been held hostage.

The attacks have been circulating the internet ever since, with people mainly showing support for Israel or for Palestine. 

President Biden is requesting $14.3 billion in aid for Israel with $10.6 billion for defense support. The US and Israel have years of alliance with the U.S., previously providing billions of dollars in aid. Biden is also requesting $9.15 billion for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza alongside other humanitarian needs.  

 

Antisemitism and Islamophobia attacks in the U.S.

New Jersey is home to a large population of Jewish and Palestinian people. Jewish and Muslim communities both in the state and nationwide are experiencing an increase of threats since Oct. 7. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has not disclosed the specific numbers of threats, which they state are mainly happening online, but they are asking  local law enforcement to take further actions to protect both communities.

 

Several discriminatory incidents have been reported in New Jersey:

 
  • A physician at Hackensack Jersey Shore Hospital was fired after posting support for Palestinians.
  • A barber shop owner in Paterson said someone called his business threatening to burn down his building
  • In South Jersey, a South Asian woman found a torn up Quran outside of her restaurant. 

In New Jersey, there has been no clear anti-semitic incidents reported since the Israel-Hamas war began earlier this month. 

With war updates flooding through social media,  one user told Slice of Culture that the ongoing war has made them feel “very depressed.”

As of this article, the only negotiations that are being reported are hostage releases and prisoner swaps, which has been painted as a devastating situation. According to multiple reports, Israel is expected to launch a ground invasion to essentially “destroy” the Hamas, but the U.S. is reportedly trying to delay the operation to negotiate more releases.

There’s no clear timeline if and when a ceasefire deal will take place, which is a solution thousands have called for in the U.S., including at rallies in Hudson County.

I think that the only way that this immediate conflict ends is with a coordinated and serious solution implemented by the international community,” Gerlach added. 

 “The problem there, of course, is the present lack of international cooperation, on many fronts.  That’s why this immediate conflict is seemingly so hopeless.”



 







 

 

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