Broken Hearted Dissidents

Protests in Tel Aviv calling for a ceasefire, with a protester holding the photo of Matan Zangauker, May 9th | Photograph: Alon David

The morning of October 7th left most Israelis with an irremediable broken heart. Many Israelis, with me among them, have lost loved ones, friends, and families. Entire generations of families were cut down by the Hamas onslaught. Many of us feel as if we’ve experienced a genocidal campaign against us, in our own homes. 132 of us are currently held captive in horrible conditions by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza strip.

The Israeli citizenry is broken hearted. They are collectively broken hearted, since Hamas victimized not only Jews, but also Arabs, Bedouins and Druze. Hamas massacred all Israelis, if they’re religious, or not. If they’re native-born or recently made Aliyah. If they’re left-wing or right-wing. Our mere existence is a problem.

Hamas’ indiscriminate murder of mothers and fathers, children, babies and elderlies, surely conjured up feelings of revenge. It would be logical to assume that more so for families of hostages still held by Hamas. This is, however, not the case.

On October 7th, Matan Zangauker and Ilana Gritzewsky were abducted by Hamas terrorists from their home in Nir Oz. 55 days later, during the November ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Ilana was released. Matan, is still there.

Matan’s mother, Einav Zangauker, has become a vocal advocate for a ceasefire in return to the release of all hostages. In the beginning, Einav, and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, were cooperative with the government. They trusted the government of Israel to return the hostages, though government authorities completely disregarded them. Yet, as the days and months went by, without actual development, Einav and the Forum took to the streets.

The Forum and Einav have expressed, repeatedly, their disenchantment with the government’s efforts to retrieve the hostages. Zangauker has said to “have lost faith” in prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him to step down from office. Her brave stance against the government and Netanyahu have not gone without reactions by them.

In ceasefire demonstrations in Tel Aviv, Einav and her daughter, as well as Ilana, were bombarded by police water cannons. In another demonstration in front of Avi Dichter’s government vehicle, Israel’s Agriculture Minister, Zangauker was tackled by police. A more sinister reprimanding by Israel’s government is done through their media mouthpieces. Self-described mouthpiece, Yinon Magal, has blamed Einav Zangauker for the death of two people tasked with cleaning trash left from protests on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. Since it was a protest by the Forum, led by Zangauker, Magal decided to blame her for their tragic death. Magal has also claimed that the Forum was the one to leak Netanyahu’s recorded criticism of Qatar. In actuality, Netanyahu’s own office is the one to leak the recording.

The coordinated media and institutional repression against Netanyahu’s enemies has been termed by former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, “the Poison Machine”. The same machine is now turned against Zangauker and the Hostages’ Families Forum.

Granted, there are hostages’ families that do not support a ceasefire in return to the release of all hostages. They trust that the IDF’s increasing military pressure on Hamas would be a better way to secure long-term peace and the release of the hostages. Both are legitimate outlooks to hold, and I am in not in any position to criticize a hostage’s family. There is no question that all these families want their loved ones back home.

Yet, Einav Zangauker and the Forum’s stance against government repression make them modern dissidents of the current political order. However, historical political dissidents are ideological, and usually philosophically and politically oriented for radical change. Zangauker and the families are not motivated by ideology or an overarching philosophy. They are simply motivated by a broken heart.

About the Author
Law student and social commentator with research background in international law, jurisprudence, and political theory. Maj. (res.) in the IDF. Born in Homesh, lives in Haifa.