Shahar Azani
Veteran Israeli Diplomat. Speaker. Author. JBS Senior Vice President. Jewish.

Bearing Witness, Taking Action

The window of a “safe room” in Kibbutz Bee’ri. 

Credit: Shahar Azani
A “safe room” window in Kibbutz Bee’ri. Credit: Shahar Azani

Birds were chirping all around me. The grass was green, and the sun gently caressed the meadows with its rays as butterflies made their way through flower patches around me. Yet, the stench was unmistakable. It was the stench of death, and the charred remains surrounding me were a reminder of what happened here only two months ago, on that accursed day of October 7th. That was Kibbutz Bee’ri.

In the distance, smoke billowed from Gaza, the City of Evil, which gave birth to some of the worst atrocities witnessed by humanity, so many of those happened right here, on the hallowed grounds of the Kibbutz. I walked through the remains of a kindergarten, where bullet shells were spread on the tiny desks right next to a blackened box of crayons. I visited the infirmary, where the late Magen David Adom paramedic, Amit Mann, only 22, lost her life when Hamas savages broke into the infirmary and murdered her along with patients and other medical staff. They did so mercilessly, with immense cruelty and a grin. Allah Akbar, they screamed as they stormed through the fields of humanity to spread horror and destruction.

It was a perfect and dark juxtaposition of what this war is all about: those who cherish life, who fight to save it, against a death cult that sanctifies death. One may say it a million times in media studios or public talks, but it is only when you stand there, take a good look around you, and breathe that air that it sinks in.
Civilization vs. Barbarism.

In the Jewish tradition of celebrating and cherishing life, we say that “one who saves a soul saves a world entire.” In the days and weeks since the October massacre, we have gotten to learn about so many of those souls that we have lost: IDF soldiers, first responders, and ordinary civilians – who perished in the ferocious attack conducted by brutal Hamas marauders. We heard Amit’s beautiful voice, and the thoughts haunt us of the incredible future this beautiful young woman should have had before her. We teared up as we saw the picture of the Kedem-Siman Tov family – Tamar, who was running in the local elections for the regional council; her husband, Yonatan, his mother, and their three children: 6-year-old twin girls, Shahar and Arbel; and their two-year-old son, Omer. All of them were butchered in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Would Tamar have won the elections? What would Omer have grown up to be? So much life, so many lives, all lost in one moment of sheer, unadulterated, naked act of profound evil.

Where did all this hate come from? How could we have let this happen? There are so many questions and too few answers. Yet, one thing is clear: Palestinian incitement has never been a secret. We have seen it time and again in “summer camps” Nazi Hamas held for Palestinian children. We saw it in school books – including UNRWA’s schools – where Palestinians were fed hatred and animosity towards Jews, Israel, and the heretic West. It was all around us, and we always called it out.

But did we do enough? Clearly not. Did we cry out loud enough? Clearly not, and the lesson for us moving forward is just as clear: with all due respect to any other issue on the table, Palestinian societal decay should have been – and will be – front and center for any plan moving forward. Education for incitement can no longer be ignored, nor can it be funded by Israeli, American, European, or any other taxpayers’ money.

As the IDF entered the City of Evil and waged war on the dark forces of Hamas, we began to understand not just the magnitude of the Hamas’ brainwashing industry but also the unfathomable amount of money that went into their terror operations. Endless tunnels had been dug all over, and vast amounts of weapons and ammunition spread inside mosques, schools, hospitals, and baby incubators. So much money went into this diabolical operation; much of it came straight from your pockets, right here in the US, in the form of “aid to Gaza.” That money did not go to build roads or shelters.

It was used to plant the seeds of death.

Never Again is now. Never Again should our taxpayers’ money be used to purchase death. That is only one of many lessons that must be learned from the October 7th massacre, as the world has changed.

And so should we.

About the Author
Veteran Israeli Diplomat. Speaker, Author, JBS Senior Vice President. Formerly Israel's Consul for Media Affairs in NY and L.A.. Thankful for every day. Hopeful for the future.
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