By Leah Garber
When I travel to North America for work, I am in the West, but my heart is in the East, in Israel. Today, however, my heart is in the West—with hundreds of thousands of lovers of Israel who are showing up in Washington, D.C., from all over the U.S. to take part in the March for Israel.
If I were there with you today, marching while surrounded by the tremendous love for the Jewish state, I would for sure be wrapped in waves of support, consoled with sympathy. I’m sure I would—for the first time after five weeks—raise my head with pride together with all of you and bring your blessing back home with me to share your amazing solidarity with the citizens of Israel.
If I were marching with you today, I would have brought the testimonies of the survivors of the massacre with me. I would share their nightmares, and I would spell out the devastation, including how there is nothing left from the beauty of the burned kibbutzim and how the blossoming red petals of the glorious poppy flower fields are now replaced by the red of the blood of 1,400 massacres.
If I were with you today, I would heartily share with you the crimes Hamas perpetuated—not only against Israelis but against all humanity.
I would share that the Hamas murderers had no mercy for anyone, including 74-year-old Vivian Silver of Kibbutz Be’eri, whose body was identified only last night after 38 days. Vivian’s murders had no mercy for this wonderful human being, a peace activist who dedicated her life to the well-being of the Palestinian residents of Gaza and formed an Israeli-Palestinian coalition.
I would share that these terrorists had no mercy for a pregnant woman either. I am sure all those murderers have wives at home—or sisters or mothers who have given birth. Even human monsters should be able to detect an advanced pregnancy, to sense the new life being forged, but apparently, the Hamas terrorists are not even monsters. There is no name for such evil. They showed no mercy to anyone, and today we were informed that this Israeli woman apparently gave birth in recent days, while in captivity. Can any of us imagine the magnitude of the horror? All of us who have given birth or accompanied a woman giving birth know the storm of emotions, the pains, the fears, the excitement, and most of all, the need—the need to feel loved, to be treated with compassion, not to be alone.
Did this young woman, somewhere in the Hamas tunnels, have the necessary conditions to give birth? What did her baby see when he first opened his eyes? Was it his mother’s terrified eyes? The cruelty of her captors? The darkness of hell?
For those who need facts, proof of Hamas atrocities, I would share what we heard yesterday from Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Daniel Hagari, reporting from the Rantisi Hospital in Gaza: Hagari revealed the criminal use by Hamas of the medical facility, including evidence that Hamas stored weapons in the hospital rooms. The Israeli army located the hospital basement—intended to be used as a shelter for children but was used instead by Hamas to hide RPG missiles and other weapons. On October 7, Hamas terrorists returned from the massacre with blood on their hands after slaughtering Israelis and burning babies and women alive to hide out under the Rantisi Hospital and other hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
If I were walking with you today in D.C., I would be walking hand in hand with my many friends, breathing in air full of unity and hope, filling my heart with the beauty of our people. I extend my hand from Jerusalem today and join the chain of hands that surrounds the entire Jewish world.
Together we will remember the 1,400 murdered, we will pray for the immediate release of the hostages, including the newborn, and hope he will smile his first smile under a warm Israeli sun. Together we will long for better days, days of peace.
Together, united, we will overcome.
Leah Garber is a senior vice president of JCC Association of North America and director of its Center for Israel Engagement in Jerusalem.