For communities across the United States, the violence in the Middle East this week was horrific. News of kidnappings, killings, destruction, and bloodshed in both Israel and the Gaza Strip inspired rallies, memorials, and protests.
A war more than five thousand miles away is felt acutely at home.
In a show of solidarity, the White House lit up in the blue and white colors of the Israeli flag, and across the country, rallies and memorials were held after the most recent attack by the terrorist group Hamas killed more than 1,300 people in Israel.
The United States is often considered one of Israel's strongest allies.
On top of the $260 billion in U.S. government aid sent to the country since World War II, some groups estimate that private U.S. philanthropic organizations donate around two billion dollars annually to Israeli nonprofits.
Many of those organizations are now calling on their communities to help those affected by the invasion from Hamas.
"This morning, we opened up an emergency campaign to raise dollars, and one hundred percent of those dollars raised will go directly to our partners on the ground in Israel,” said Megan Weintraub, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Jewish Nevada.
Organizations like Jewish Nevada are supporting immediate relief efforts to aid survivors of the attack and rebuild damaged infrastructure.
"I can't say that I have the solution to peace in the Middle East. What I do know is that our community believes in a two-state solution, our community believes in democracy, and our community believes in human dignity,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, President and CEO, Milwaukee Jewish Federation.
But apart from solidarity rallies in support of Israel, others in the U.S. are rallying behind Palestinians and protesting Israel's influence over Gaza.
Groups like the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, a nonprofit founded in the U.S., are mobilizing to provide medical aid and essential supplies to the children injured and left homeless by the bombings in Gaza.
"We are not here to celebrate. We are here because something tragic has happened,” said Imam Suleiman Hani, Director of Academic Affairs at Almaghrib Institute.
"We just want freedom for the Palestinians back home. What they're going through is not easy,” said protester Laila Abu Taha.
"It's a scary situation for both sides. Retaliation is something that people are worried about,” said Jamilah Arabiyat, President of Students for Justice in Palestine.
Many activists worry the continued retaliatory strike will come at the cost of more lives.
"We do not condone the loss of lives, but we do not accept that Israeli lives triumph over Palestinian lives,” said Mohamad Abdelsalam, Representative at Palestine Aid Society.
As the rallies and protests continue across the country, several people are concerned that the rhetoric in support of Palestinians justifies the violence of Hamas against Israelis.
Since last Saturday, more than 2,800 people have died amid the Hamas-Israel war. Over 1,300 Israelis and over 1,500 Gazans.
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