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Orna Raz

Day 81 Of The War: In Front Of A Locked Gate

Omri Lifshitz the son of Oded in front of the locked gate. (courtesy)
Omri Lifshitz the son of Oded in front of the locked gate. (courtesy)

Yesterday was  another busy day at the restaurant where we prepare meals for reserved soldiers. A group of young volunteers from abroad joined us. Their enthusiasm and kindness were exceptional; despite arriving in Israel just the night before, they eagerly reported early and were willing to assist in any way possible. I feel fortunate, amidst the despair of an unending war and our government’s dysfunction and corruption, being surrounded on a daily basis by such individuals  helps me maintain perspective and  gives hope for the future.

 Following work, I met up with friends to visit the photo-journalism exhibition “Local Testimony” (Ediut Mekomit) 2023 at the Eretz Israel museum. This marked the exhibition’s 20th year. At the entrance, the curator Anat Saragusti noted in a text that they had completed all preparations for the exhibition on October 6th, and then came October 7th. That day changed everything. Until October 7th this year was the year of the protest against the judicial overhaul and the corruption of the Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government. But everything lost its significance in the wake of the tragedy on the 7th and the war that followed. The juxtaposition of the photos from the protests alongside those depicting the war proved to be profoundly powerful and sad.

As the extended cabinet convened this evening, the Hostages and Missing Families forum urged people to gather at Kaplan and demonstrate in front of the locked  gates to the Ministry of Security, appealing to arriving ministers not to abandon the hostages. The atmosphere was somber. Individuals congregated at each gate, holding up photos of the hostages. I was unaware that there were family members among us until a man sitting on the curb pointed to the poster I was carrying and said, “This man is my father.”

The man, Oded Lifshitz (83) from Kibbutz Nir Oz, has been held captive for 81 days by Hamas. His wife, Yocheved, was released after enduring 17 days as a hostage. Omri Lifshitz, extremely worried about his elderly father, stood at the gate with his wife, and two small children. Omri said that life stopped on October 7th, and he and other family members tirelessly work to bring their loved ones home, lobbying worldwide. He admitted that  he hardly had time for work amidst these efforts. Omri gave me  permission to take  a photo of him holding the picture of his father.

As we stood in front of  the locked  gate at the entrance of the Ministry of Security , I realized this was a sad metaphor:  Benjamin Netanyahu and this  extremist government have locked their hearts and do not even care about the well being of the hostages.

About the Author
I have a PhD in English literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I usually write about issues concerning women, literature, culture and society. I lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994). I am widow and in March 2016 started a support/growth Facebook group for widows: "Widows Move On." In October 2017 I started a Facebook group for Older and Experienced Feminists. .
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