Janna Tusa
The Inconsolable New Yorker

A Voice for the Betrayed: Using Love as Fuel to Fight for Justice

The last ninety-five days have been mentally and emotionally taxing to those who stand tall and proud with our Israeli brothers and sisters. The daily routine often feels like I am starring in reruns of a psychological horror reality show in which I never signed consent to be on. As midnight approaches, I turn on the news to follow any of the morning briefings given the 7-hour time difference. As each update flashes, without fail, the same time each night, the release of a heart-wrenching cry occurs.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, is the biggest sellout completely devoid of their claim “UN Women is the global champion for gender equality, working to develop and uphold standards and create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights and live up to her full potential. We are trusted partners for advocates and decision-makers from all walks of life, and a leader in the effort to achieve gender equality” which is listed on their website “about us” page. Why did it take 94 days for 2 individual experts on torture and executions to demand accountability for Hamas’ sexual violence against Israeli women on October 7th?

Women protest outside the UN Headquarters in Jerusalem over its failure to condemn Hamas violence against women during its October 7 onslaught, November 27, 2023. (Flash90)

Why were the victims questioned to begin with? What happened to the universal #metoo movement? While this is spotlighting the brutality of Hamas and the atrocities against Israeli women, it is a wakeup call to all women around the world. We aren’t supposed to fracture the threads of our sisterhood that connect us. I thought we were supposed to hear each other’s cries in the darkness and with a loving hand help make the journey towards healing less lonely. Instead, I see fragments of our broken sisterhood in the lack of acknowledgement of the atrocities and where freedom of speech has become the freedom to dehumanize Israelis and Jews without consequence. More so, where are all of our celebrities and politicians who are outspoken keyboard warriors for every other social justice movement? We hear your silence loud and clear.

Illustrative: A woman stands with a symbolic zipper around her mouth and a sign identifying some of the hostages abducted by Palestinian terrorists during the October 7 attack at a vigil demanding government action for their return, outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 7, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

The questionable and deafening silence especially on social media lacking response to the unknown fate of the remaining hostages, especially the five teenage girls, is abominable. Once the world learned of the barbaric crimes Hamas had committed on October 7th, the images that are forever imprinted in my mind should have led us in unity to fight for these innocent souls to be released. As a mother, I imagine my two daughters and I think about Liri, Karina, Daniela, and Agam’s mothers and the agonizing pain they must be feeling every day for the last ninety-five days. The fear, panic, anxiety, anger, disgust, betrayal, and heart break are palpable. On top of trying to get through every hour without their children imagining the torment they are experiencing, they are also faced with the betrayal of women all over the world. Where is the outrage outside of Israel? Where are the feminist organizations seeking justice for these young women? Do they not see the same pictures as I do? Beautiful young women, bloodied with their hands tied together. Their eyes are tired; you can see they are trying to hold on with whatever fight is left in them, but the sparkle they once had on October 6th in their eyes is fading. How can we not feel the fire deep down to stand up and fight for them? Where are the celebrities who once stood tall and proud with the #metoo movement? When prominent celebrities and politicians don’t speak up, is it a lack of care or a greater concern for their public image than using their influence to help? Simply standing up for the five teenage girls, would go a long way in an age of likes and clicks.

An inside page from the Daily Mail, January 8, 2024.

As the Inconsolable New Yorker, I am forced to see billboards lighting up Times Square seeking support for ceasefire and the children of Gaza, which by no means am I minimizing the casualties of war – but this isn’t just any war. I do not see billboards lighting up the night sky with the faces of the 100+ hostages who need our voice and support to be released. I do not see college students storming the steps of the White House demanding the U.S government to do more for the salvation of our Israeli allies. Instead, I see anti-Israel protests demanding for the destruction of Israel. We see Ivy League college presidents not taking aggressive action to condemn anti-Semitic acts on their campuses hiding behind the notion of protected speech. Since when does the calling for the genocide of Jews not fall into a harassment category? We see back peddling when the slap on the wrist comes but with little remorse or change in their sentiment. There are not enough voices for the virtuous who suffer in silence in the dark dungeons beneath Gaza or wherever their captors isolated them to. As a New Yorker, I am rendered speechless that our own Omer Neutra who is amongst the remaining hostages, an IDF soldier who deferred his acceptance to SUNY Binghamton for a gap year and the convenience of his life in Plainview, NY at age 18 isn’t spoken about. Where is Omer’s billboard?

American-born Omer Neutra is presumed taken captive by Hamas on October 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

Though my acting gig was not something I consented to, it has sparked a glimmer of hope. The pain I felt served as a motivator for me to fight against ignorance, educate the misinformed, and take action. Speaking out against those who seek to harm Israel has connected me with others who share my beliefs. I am grateful for the America-Israel Friendship League’s unwavering support in building bridges between Americans and Israelis. My love for Israel began in 1996 as a YASE delegate for AIFL, and my passion for the country has only grown stronger with time. Every loss suffered in the fight for Israel’s right to exist weighs heavy on my heart. I am not content to simply read news reports; my commitment to this cause is deeply personal. When your passion is fueled by love, it strengthens your natural instincts to protect those you care for. You become a barrier between those who may wish them harm and the ones you hold dear.

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I will continue to stand bravely and fiercely against those who seek to destroy Israel and its people for as long as I am able to speak. It is my belief that we must forgive those who will never apologize, but we must never stop being a voice for the betrayed.

Together, we can make a difference and show that there is power in numbers.

“For G & 3, you will always have my voice as a protective force.”

Edited by: S. Brooke Berkowitz

About the Author
I am a native New Yorker that experienced the deep connection to Israel at the young age of 16. I always believe that Israel chose me when I was selected to represent America and immerse myself into the amazing culture. I am now forty-three and my unparalleled love remains the same if not stronger as we stand tall against the dehumanization of all Israeli's. I studied the Holocaust while battling theologians on the theory if God was responsible in my early 20's, attained my degrees in social work to help children of trauma, moved on to become a financial executive, a mother to three awesome children, a semi-professional opera singer, currently a sales and operations executive for a national private education company, and still here working for my purpose.