Since Saturday, October 7th, at 6:30 AM, our country has come to a standstill. On Friday night, we were still celebrating the second Hag of Sukkot, and my partner and I sat with friends in the garden, discussing, among other things, plans for the upcoming week. On Sunday, the 8th, we were supposed to start what is known in Israel as “After the holidays.”
It is the custom in this country that from the eve of Rosh Hashanah (this year on September 15th) until after the second hag of Sukkot, things slow down. People are on vacation, and there are hardly any school days. It’s somewhat akin to the period from Christmas Eve to after New Year in many countries.
Around the table, everyone had plans for the first day after the holidays. However, we were caught off guard by a heinous terrorist attack on our towns, villages, and kibbutzim in the southern district. Thus on Sunday, there were no schools, public places and restaurants were closed, and very few shops were open. Today marks the 5th day of the war, and still, there is no school. We’ve been informed that next Sunday, our children will start studying via Zoom, similar to the time of the Coronavirus.
Those exposed to Hamas’ posted videos of kidnapping, execution, torture, and gunfire against innocent civilians urged others to avoid watching them. It’s a well known fact that these images cannot be erased from the mind. A young journalist who specializes in digital media wept on the radio, imploring parents to supervise their children’s phones to prevent a lifetime of trauma. The evacuees, those who were spared after being held at gunpoint for long hours or were locked in bomb shelters for almost a day and night, are already scarred enough. There’s no need to increase the number of traumatized people due to exposure to such harrowing content.
Hopefully, our country will eventually recover and find a way to cope with the personal and collective trauma resulting from the tragic events of October 7th. However, I am deeply concerned that across the Atlantic, in a country that was my second home for many years, many people—especially the young and educated—cannot distinguish between a brutal terror attack and a legitimate struggle of freedom fighters for a homeland. Hamas is a horrendous and cruel terror organization that spares neither the elderly, women, nor children. They have committed crimes against humanity comparable to those of ISIS. I am saddened that these young individuals grew up to be students who cannot differentiate between right and wrong, viewing the world through a simplistic and misguided lens of black and white. I dread to think about how they will navigate conflicts in their own lives, and disappointed that they are the product of elite universities in the United States.
That is why I am even more grateful to President Biden for his compassion, empathy, and the clarity of his humane speech, and I hope that many more Americans will follow his example