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Day 60: Iron Swords War

By Leah Garber

 “My name is Lenore Abargil, and I am a rape victim. I was only 18 years old at the time. Twenty-five years have passed, but since October 7th, I once again hear the demons in my head, the horrible videos bring everything back. I feel the October 7th victims’ pain.”

This is how former Miss Universe, Lenore Abargil, began her speech at a gathering yesterday at the United Nations, where she harshly attacked the hypocrisy of international women’s organizations around the world regarding the acts of rape and sexual assault that occurred as part of the massacre on October 7:

I am ashamed because they do not want to show the blood stains on the pants, the broken pelvises, the mutilated bodies of my sisters. I feel their insult, the shattering of their dignity and the loss of their lives, and the terrifying and terrible silence we have experienced since then.” In the place where I grew up, there is a saying—’Silence is slime.’”

How reassuring it is to know that we live in enlightened times in which women have equal rights, in which their dignity is preserved, in which their bodies belong to them, and in which their voices are heard. Thanks to the #metoo movement, workplaces, campuses, and the entire public sphere are sensitive to any deviation from accepted standards and norms—and react immediately when these standards are disregarded.

Indeed, what a wonderful world. Too bad these important values do not apply to Israeli women. Their dignity and their bodies are promiscuous. Rape and sexual abuse against them are legitimate acts when carried out by freedom fighters.

Only two days ago, 58 days after the atrocities of the October 7 massacre, the UN Women’s Organization condemned the actions of Hamas—for the first time.

At yesterday’s event, planned by the U.N. Israeli delegation, survivors of the Nova musical festival revealed new information about the atrocities committed on that black Shabbat. Among other things, Yael Reichert, a senior officer in the Israel Police, shared photographic evidence from the investigations, a chilling contrast to the prolonged silence and complete lack of condemnation by women’s organizations around the world. Reichert testified that the terrorists cut off limbs and burned them in a systematic plan, carrying out a massacre against innocent citizens without distinction among religion, race, or gender.

Reichert presented video evidence that was difficult to watch and described other evidence:

These atrocities are part of the shocking evidence that proves the terrible crimes against humanity. My life—our life, as women—as a mother and as a police officer will never be the same as it was before October 7. We must ensure the safety of women and the well-being of Israel. For us, for our children, and for our future generations. Am Yisrael Chai.”

Listen to Sheryl Sandberg, former chief operating officer (COO) of Meta Platforms, who stood on the stage, condemning the silence and the hypocrisy.

Sherry Mendes, a reservist in the Israeli military rabbinate who helped identify bodies, also spoke at the event, sharing what she saw firsthand:

The desecration of bodies was the target of the murder. It was a systematic desecration. These barbarians did not show respect for the women in their lives. We knew that we would be the last to see them (the women’s bodies) and we held them close to our hearts as if they were our daughters. As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I am here to tell you my testimony. I speak on behalf of those who cannot testify.”

Is it Qatari money that drives prestigious universities to allow unimaginable hypocrisy to be the main motif in protests across campuses? Is this the woke blindness that has infected so many who boast of their progressive views without any idea about what they are quoting? Do they even know where Israel is located, what the geopolitical reality is in the region, what the roots of the conflict are, or what even happened on October 7. All those “enlightened” people know how to do is wave signs. If they had a shred of decency in them, they would admit that everything their signs stand for contradict the liberal principles they would otherwise support, were they not marching in an anti-Israel protest—respect for women, LGBTQ rights, freedom of religion, protection of the environment. Not one of these values is part of Hamas’s toxic belief system, but all of them are integral to Israel’s system of values. Sadly, protesters around the world wave signs that, first and foremost, harm the protesters themselves, as well as their intellect, their integrity, their own humanity.

After Hamas violated the truce agreement last week and resumed launching missiles at Israel, the American State Department and Israeli army know the reason Hamas refused to release 10 women from captivity who are known to be alive. It is solely because the terrorists fear these women, once back in Israel, will share their horrifying stories—testimonies Hamas would rather not be heard.

Unfortunately, even the testimonies of Israeli hostages, whom we all hope will soon be back home, will not move the needle of the biased, blindsided world. Although women’s organizations will rightly be alarmed upon hearing about a single woman who experiences verbal harassment, they will accept with understanding—or at best ignore—the testimonies of tens and tens of women who have been brutally raped.

On the 60th day of this terrible war, I feel anger and frustration.

The range of emotions since that black Sabbath 60 days ago includes deep shock, anxiety, endless pain, real fear, worry, disappointment, and anger.

I apologize for my blunt words today, but they describe a blunt reality.

I have chosen not to share with you the chilling testimonial videos that were released, partially because what I cannot watch myself, I do not share with others. Nonetheless, I’m hurting, and I am in tremendous pain.

With everything we have been through, I would feel a trace of comfort if the entire world would excommunicate the Hamas monsters for their unreservedly obscene actions and simultaneously embrace the victims and promise never to allow those barbarians a foothold of legitimacy.

This, in fact, may be the beginning of healing: A commitment that evil has no place in our world and a world in which we all stand united in the fight to denounce it would be a solid start. But it is naïve of me to expect the entire world to support Israel and condemn Hamas, so until this commitment is realized, we have only each other to rely upon—as we have always done.

Arik Einstein, Israel beloved poet, singer, and actor, for whom we just marked the 10th yahrzeit, said it much better in his iconic song, “Ani v’Ata” | You and I [Will Change the World]”:

You and I we’ll change the world
you and I, and by then all will follow
Others have said it before me but
It doesn’t matter, you and I we’ll change the world.

You and I we’ll try from the beginning
it will be tough, but no matter, it’s not too bad!
Others have said it before me but it
doesn’t matter, you and I we’ll change the world.”

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.

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