Antisemitism? My Coworkers’ Cheers for Hamas Shocked Me


I walked out of a staff meeting Thursday, so upset I didn’t dare open my mouth to say anything. I overheard two coworkers chatting about how horrible it was that Israel was bombing Palestine. They were cheering the Hamas militants as if they were underdog revolutionaries. At first, I couldn’t believe what they were saying. I sat in shock and then walked out on rubbery legs.

The Hamas are not heroes. They burned babies, beheaded children and want to kill every Jewish person—which means me. I left all my tasks and papers on my desk, didn’t shut off my computer, and drove home.

Before this, I liked my coworkers, and felt aligned with them. We took similar positions on Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, and abortion rights, and against racist individuals. But now I see them as racist—against me as a Jew. Two hours after I left, my boss texted, upset that I’d walked out of an important meeting. When I didn’t respond within the hour, he sent another text, asking for my status on a project I left unfinished that is due today. He sent two more increasingly angry texts about the project.

I need to pull myself together, plan to return to the office after everyone has left the building and finish the project. I texted him, saying that. I struggle with what else say.


 Tell your boss the truth. You felt blindsided by your coworkers’ comments on an issue deeply personal to you.

Your coworkers aren’t necessarily racist, nor against you. They may have picked the Hamas as the underdogs, given the recent deaths among Palestinians. They may not understand how incomprehensibly horrid October 7th was, nor what Hamas militants intend for Jews. You may need a few days of personal leave to grapple with this.

I hope you’re incorrect about your two coworkers being antisemitic; however, Pew Research reported last year that nearly two-thirds of Jewish employees witnessed workplace antisemitism making them feel less safe at work, In 2022, antisemitic harassment reached the highest level since the ADL began keeping records in 1979, The Anti-defamation League further reported that antisemitism increased by 3885% since the first Hamas attack,

Here’s what you can let your manager know. Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion, including Judaism. Further, some treat Jewish people as a racial or ethnic group, giving them these Title VII protections as well.

Tell your boss workplace bias against Jewish employees includes fleeting, subtle remarks that reflect ignorance and leave their coworkers feeling alienated, unwelcome, and unsafe, as well as more openly hostile comments. As just one instance, NBA star player Kyrie Irving tweeted a link to a film alleging the Holocaust was a “major falsehood,”

Your boss and coworkers have much to learn. Unless you’re a problem employee, your boss should have picked up to phone, called you and asked, “This isn’t like you, how come you left the meeting?” Although he likely didn’t hear the comments, he made the situation worse by firing off increasingly angry texts. He owes you an apology. You may need a few days of personal leave so you can process your thoughts and feelings. You might decide to educate your coworkers, so they realize what Hamas did, and realize they need to have empathy and compassion for the people of Israel as well as Palestine.

Please let me know how you’re doing.

(c) 2023 Lynne Curry

p.s. I’ve written extensively about the need to meet face-to-face, or at a minimum call someone, when conflict is on the table. For how to do this, you can check out, Navigating Conflict,

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8 thoughts on “Antisemitism? My Coworkers’ Cheers for Hamas Shocked Me

  1. The level on support for Hamas and the level of anti-Semitism I see in this country are shocking to me, as well, and I’m not Israeli or Jewish. I feel terrible for all Jewish people having to deal with this- again. All I can say is there are a lot of people who do not feel this way, myself included. I hope when you speak with your boss that he and your co-workers are able to see the insensitivity and wrongness of their comments and that they give you a much deserved apology.

  2. I have been feeling conflicted about the Gaza War myself. I don’t like Israel’s leader and I’ve been horrified at the plight of the hostages and the civilians on both sides living in Gaza. But today I heard Ambassador Blinken describe just what Hamas did to one family, and my view of the conflict changed. I began to understand how truly horrific they are. They are literally inhuman.

    I live in a liberal community where Jews like myself haven’t been subjected to antisemitism – yet. Of course, every Jew knows in their heart that being tortured and killed and put in an oven is always possible. We have a 5,000 year long history of that kind of treatment so it’s part of us in a way I don’t think non-Jews fully understand. And the people of Israel are only one generation away from experiencing the holocaust themselves, not to mention the constant attacks from Arabs since the founding of Israel.

    The thing that has always struck me about anti-semitic, or just unaware, Christians is that they worship a Jew. For many he is the center of their lives although he died 2000 years ago. His name was Jesus and he lived, worshipped, and preached as a Jew. He was tortured and murdered because he was a Jew. Surely if someone believes in him they should honor those of his faith. And yet here we are – with Jews all over the world terrified that the worst will happen again.

    1. I know. And my heart breaks for the agony of those in the Gaza. And yet the early stories which I researched told me that the actions were beyond barbaric and evil. And what happened at the Russia airport? I can’t even comprehend.

  3. The Hamas-Israel-Gaza-Palestinian violence and collisions are truly messy. There’s blame to go around to Hamas and Israel. There’s sympathy and compassion (and help) needed for Palestinians not aligned with Hamas and for Israelis. This mess has been in the making since 1948, IMO. Simplistic solutions and simplistic good-bad one-sided comparisons are pretty much wrong, flawed, misleading, and ignorant. At the same time, the antisemitic remarks and cheers for Hamas from coworkers are out of line, really bad “analysis,” and need to be called out by the boss, as stated in this commentary. I doubt that these coworkers understand much about Judaism, Islam, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or much else in that part of the world. The boss mostly got angry that the person who left, distressed was not there and did not pick up on the obvious signs that something troubling had happened to this person–leaving the meeting, leaving the computer on, not responding to texts. It is good to point out that there are legal repercussions here and that they need to be addressed. This kind of ignorant piling on and creating an “in” group and an “out’ group [surely no one here, right? they seem to be saying while cheering] is out of line, ignorant, and yes, against the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion. It would be no more correct if a group of workers with Jewish sympathies made damning statements about Hamas and perhaps then extended their statements to persons of Islamic faith. IT’S WRONG.

    1. Susan, so well said. (The only portion I don’t agree with is I believe the Hamas terrorists who acted with such barbaric evil on October 7th deserve our worst statements.)

  4. I would like to support Lynne and her stance heartily: Alaskans should stand up to bigotry and prejudice in whatever form it confronts us. Artists and writers in particular have a responsibility not to resort to handed-down superficial opinions or snap judgements but to dig deep and root for the underdog. Or in this case, the innocent victims of violence ON BOTH SIDES of the border.

    For a brief article about Jewish contributions to the history, culture, and politics of Alaska, I refer interested readers to my “The Freezing Few,” which first appeared in Alaska magazine in the October 2022 issue:

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