In retrospect we should have expected this. Hamas has repeatedly exhibited wanton brutality and indifference to human life, not only to Jews but even to fellow Palestinians. Regarding Jews, members of Hamas have freely and repeatedly stated that they want to annihilate all Jews in the area “from the river to the sea.” Moreover, they have demonstrated their disregard for the civilian Palestinian population by hiding and storing weapons and explosives in hospitals, schools and other locations where innocents, including children, the elderly and the infirmed would likely become collateral damage. The Hamas terrorists don’t care. In fact, they want collateral damage. To them, any person who is not a “true believer” is the enemy and fair game. They “spin” it as Israel being the oppressors, being indifferent to innocents. As preposterous and inane as this argument is, much of the world’s antisemites and anti-Jew media “buy” it. In view of the foregoing, now that some of the released hostages have been examined by medical personnel and debriefed regarding their time in captivity the horrific reports of maltreatment that have been reported in the media recently should not be surprising.
As you know, the hostage situation has been a very fluid situation. By the time you read this blog there may have been changes, perhaps, significant ones. But below please find a summary of the recent developments as published by the BBC, USA Today, the Times of Israel, and various other media outlets. Warning: some of you may find what follows most disturbing, but I believe this information needs to be disseminated.
Hamas kidnapped 240 hostages on October 7. 105 of them have been released. Of the remaining 135, several are believed to be dead from various causes. It is estimated that perhaps as many as 20 have since died in captivity due to disease, torture, malnutrition, or other causes. We do not know for certain the whereabouts of the rest of them. They could be in the tunnels; they could have been handed off to other terrorist groups; or they could also be dead.
2. Freed hostages have told shocking stories of the various hardships they and others have endured such as scarcity of food, a dearth of bathroom facilities, family separation, and perhaps worst of all the uncertainty of their ultimate fate. Were there attempts being made to rescue them? Would their captors torture or kill them? Had they been forgotten? Remember these were civilians, children even, not soldiers trained to deal with captivity.
3. Sharon Alony-Cunio and her two three-year-old twin girls, were released but her husband was not. He was “taken away” three days before their release. She believes he is still alive and being imprisoned somewhere in Gaza, but she does not know for sure. She remains “petrified” he is dead or will be murdered. She described the food as “meager” and related how her girls had limited access to a toilet and often had to pee in a sink or a trash can. She characterized her experience as “a Russian roulette.” Captives were afraid they could be killed at any time “just because they want to.” One of her girls was separated from the family for ten days. Why? Who knows? She is hopeful that the remaining hostages will be released asap. ”We are not just names on a poster. We are human beings, flesh and blood.” Amen.
4. Medical personnel who have been examining the freed hostages have been reporting many of them were drugged with depressants, such as valium, to keep them compliant. At least one girl was given ketamine, which is often used as a “date rape” drug. Additionally, an untold number of them were subjected to physical, mental, psychological and sexual abuse. As an example, one man was told his wife was dead when, in fact, she was alive and not a captive at all. Another former hostage described how she and several others were placed in total darkness for several days. Another former hostage opined “they wanted to break us not only physically [but also] mentally.” Renanna Eltan, director of the psychiatric division of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center-Ichilov, described the degree of abuse as ” just terrible” and remarked she had “never seen anything like that in 20 years of treating trauma victims.” She noted that several have become “psychotic,” “developed suicidal thoughts,” devolved into “dissociative states” (wherein one minute they think they are back as captives and the next they are back at the treatment center) and/or suffered from “hallucinations.” The aftereffects are akin to PTSD and could be long-lasting.
5. It has been widely reported that the IDF has commenced flooding the tunnels with seawater to flush out the terrorists. Obviously, this will be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it will be an efficient way to kill terrorists with a lesser cost of Israeli soldiers’ lives. But on the other hand, there is likely to be some collateral damage among hostages that may be sequestered there, which could result in a public relations nightmare. Hopefully, the IDF will exercise proper restraint.
There have been further developments regarding antisemitism on college campuses.
Harvard, with its $51 billion endowment, has become the “poster boy” for antisemitism on college campuses. Congresswoman Elise Stepanik, who has been in the forefront of this issue, has declared “we must defund the rot in America’s higher education. Harvard’s president has refused to resign and despite growing outside pressure the board of directors has refused to fire her. In addition, she has been accused of plagiarizing parts of her doctoral thesis, which would constitute a clear violation of the school’s academic integrity policy. That, by itself, should be sufficient cause to fire her. Yet, she is continuing to refuse to resign, and the school is still refusing to fire her. Could it be due to the fact that she is a black woman? Regardless, I find this excessive arrogance and insensitivity incredulous. This is despite extensive and intensive negative press, donors clawing back donations, the possible loss of copious federal payments, grants and tax breaks (presently, for instance, Harvard pays no taxes on capital gains, bond interest and dividend income), bills being introduced in Congress to penalize colleges that fail to curb on-campus antisemitism, and a pending investigation by the federal Department of Education to determine whether or not the school has transgressed against the civil rights of its Jewish students in contravention of the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. It’s as if Harvard thinks it is untouchable and can do whatever it wants.
Some Jewish students at MIT have claimed that pro-Palestinian groups have been offering “bounties” to anyone who identifies one of them. Furthermore, a group of alumni has authored a blistering criticism directed at school officials for the school’s failure to condemn antisemitism on campus or even to issue an apology. (Subsequently, the school did issue a feeble, vague statement “rejecting antisemitism in all its forms,” but, to me, it was too little, too late.)
At the University of Pennsylvania, the president resigned, and donors are continuing to claw back donations. That’s a fine beginning, but the school has not gone far enough to deal with antisemitism.
In this regard, we would all do well to heed the words of Martin Niemöller. Niemöller was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s and an early supporter of the Nazis. Eventually, he was arrested for defending the church and spent several years in a concentration camp. He famously said the following, which we should all take as a serious warning applicable to the above-discussed issue.
Obviously, I find this entire antisemitism issue to be extremely disturbing. It has the potential to tear this country apart. This issue is a direct attack on the very foundation of what America stands for, free speech, freedom of religion and the rest of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Even those of you who are not Jewish should be appalled at the current state of affairs and should help quash this in the bud. Speak up. Act. History has taught us that the oppressors will not stop at the Jews. Next, they will come after Catholics, Blacks, Hispanics, and anyone else they deem to be different. Even moderate Muslims would not escape their wrath.
We would be advised to heed the warning conveyed by Martin Niemöller. Niemöller was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. He was an early supporter of the Nazis, but later he was imprisoned for speaking out in support of the church. Upon his release he uttered the following advice, which still resonates today.
“First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I wasn’t Jewish; then they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a communist; then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist; and then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The moral of the quote is obvious. The current wave of antisemitism affects us all. We must all speak out before it is too late.
I am very disappointed, but not surprised, that the Administration and the Democrat Party, in general, have not been more forceful in supporting Jews in general and Israel in particular. The far-left wing of the Dems has been particularly vociferous in espousing antisemitism. As a result, it has cowed the Administration and mainstream Dems into silence. The Dems solution to this problem is the same they offer to deal with any problem. They offer platitudes and vague generalities but never solve it. Therefore, in my opinion, I see no reason why any Jew or other minority would vote for any Dem. As Election Day 2024 approaches they will do what they always do – obfuscate, deflect, exaggerate and make false promises and accusations. These tactics worked in 2020. Don’t be fooled again.