December 6, 2023
Can you feel horror for the atrocities of October 7th and also feel that same horror for what has gone on, day by day, since then?
Monday UN Women and other progressive voices were called out for remaining silent and not condemning the horrific violence against women that took place on that day in October, as reported by The Forward:
“You’re not a feminist if you have to be convinced that raping Israeli women is wrong,” Sheila Katz, CEO of National Council of Jewish Women, said at the rally. “Rape is not resistance. Rape is never excusable. You’re either against all rapes or you support it.
“She and Gilan Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., also criticized UN Women during the special session, convened by Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, with the World Zionist Organization and the National Council of Jewish Women.
“These brutal sexual abuses were premeditated and instructed. I sent two letters with photos as evidence to UN Women, but we’ve been ignored,” Erdan said. “If the U.N. chooses to remain silent, this does not mean the world will. The stories of Israeli women won’t be silenced and truth will prevail.”
This was an important moment to call on the UN not to remain silent. It seems, however, that many Jewish voices are choosing silence when it comes to the deaths of thousands of Palestinian women and children as collateral damage as Israel responds to the horror of October 7th. Where are the strong, unified Jewish voices calling this out?
Yesterday morning I read about the coming together of 5 major Jewish-American organizations, American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, to form the “10/7 Project” with a clear mission: “The 10/7 Project is a communications hub advocating for accurate, unbiased coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict.”
This infographic sent this morning as part of the 10/7 Project’s daily news update tells its story, and it is one which turns a blind eye on civilian Palestinian harm.
- Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel including:
- 36 infants and toddlers
- 31 Americans
- 315 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Soldiers
- Nearly 200,000 Israelis driven from their homes
- 240 Hostages taken:
- 39 infants, toddlers
- 44 women
- 34 elderly
- 10 Americans
- Israeli plus 39 other nationalities
- 138 Hostages Remaining
Should the mention of the more than 16,000 Gazans who have died in these days or the more than 250 West Bank Palestinians not be part of the story? Or the 1.3 million Gazan’s who have been driven from their homes?
Clearly, not to the leaders of the 10/7 Project who are speaking for organizations which claim to represent the entirety of American Jews.
“As leaders of American Jewry, we cannot be silent in the face of deadly violence from the Hamas Terrorist Army targeting the people of Israel,” said William Daroff, CEO, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “We must ensure that America and the entire world are told and retold the stories of the butchery of the October 7 massacre. We must discredit and make outcasts of 10/7 deniers, who are Hamas sympathizers seeking to perpetuate false and misleading narratives by minimizing and rationalizing the most deadly day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. And we must work together, as one Jewish community, to successfully communicate to the American people the critical need to stand with Israel, as well as the importance of the US-Israel relationship to America and to Israel.”
Is it really true that to my American Jewish Community only this matters?
There has been vehement criticism, as yesterday’s UN session illustrates, of voices supporting Gazans and Palestinians for their lack of recognition of 10/7’s brutality. There has been an expectation that any criticism of Israeli brutality must first begin with a recognition of the evil of Hamas.
When this brutality is thought about, there is an ongoing effort to place full responsibility on Hamas for creating the war and for embedding their organization and military in the midst of the Palestinian civilian population.
Here’s an explanation from yesterday’s Times of Israel:
“…one can only come to the conclusion that there would be no civilian causalities in the present conflict but for Hamas’ gruesome attack upon innocent unarmed civilians on October 7. In fact, there would have been no deaths at all between Palestinians and Israelis in the past seventy five years if only the Palestinians had accepted the 1947 United Nations’ partition plan which would have provided Palestinians their own independent state next to the State of Israel (or any of the subsequent offers.)
Speaking recently to Newsweek, IDF Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus was clear about where to place responsibility:
“That is the number one reason civilians are getting killed, it’s not our practice,” Conricus said. “It’s the fact that they’re co-located and Hamas isn’t deployed in the Al-Mawasi area or the agricultural areas surrounding Khan Younis or between northern and central Gaza, where there’s open territory and olive orchards, etc. No, they have intentionally placed themselves under civilians,” he added. “And since that’s where the enemy is, that is where we will have to go in order to defeat the enemy.”
As portrayed by the massed voices of the pro-Israel camp, claiming to speak for all Jews, this the only story needing to be told. 1,400 deaths on 10/7 and the documented brutality that took place that day. This is important and must never be forgotten. Everything that has happened since is, at best, an unfortunate byproduct of Israel’s right to defend itself.
And anyone who speaks up about the horror of that response, or anyone who want to see it as unlawful under International law is ill-informed or, worse speaking as a mouth piece for Hamas.
“In the wake of Hamas’s deadly terrorist attack on Israel, there has been an onslaught of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the conflict and Israel circulating on social media and, in some cases, elevated by mainstream press outlets,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL. “Tragically, we have even seen alarming incidents of antisemitic violence and hate stemming from inaccurate coverage of the conflict. And while it’s understandable that Americans are clearly interested in what’s happening in the Middle East, The 10/7 Project will make sure they’re receiving verifiable, truthful, and balanced information, especially at a time when some platforms have regrettably cut back on their trust and safety teams.”
We can and must do better than this.
As Jews and as members of a broader world community, we cannot forget that everyone of those statistics, the 1,400 killed in Israel and the 16,000 killed in Gaza are all persons who were created in God’s image: each equal in value to the other. We cannot elevate the horror of one death over that of another. We cannot accept the blurring of the lines between combatant and civilian. We cannot become so convinced of the rightness of our cause that we are ready to dehumanize those we harm so that the harm is washed away.
Those protesting the silence about the rape of Israeli women were right to be loud and insistent in their call for justice.
And so are the voices pleading for a Cease Fire Now! Voices that see another horror unfolding every day that the bombing continues. Ambassador Erdan took the world to task for ignoring the rape and torture of 10/7. The same, I fear, can be said of too many in my community about what has befallen the innocents in Gaza as Israel has used its might and power to respond. If they “If…choose to remain silent, this does not mean the world will.” Their stories of Israeli “…won’t be silenced and truth will prevail.”