I am the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and the mother of four children, one, a special-ops fighter in the IDF. I have been a traditional rather than religious Jew all my life. I am a liberal. I was born in Austria and lived half my life in England and the USA but have always considered myself an Israeli first and consequently have often argued with God about the existence of evil. Living in Israel during the past couple of weeks I have witnessed events that I had refused to imagine were possible. Those of you who known me, know that I have never been afraid to face horror. I served in the IDF and in 1982 participated in the first Lebanon war. In film school I focused on the Horror Film genre, and after both my parents passed, I embarked on a two decade long deep dive into the Holocaust.
I was never actually interested in the so called: Banality of Evil, but rather was fascinated by the cruel, brutal, perverse and weird aspects of the Nazis’ ideology and actions. The lamp shades, the soap, the tattoos and the Einsatzgruppen or slaughter brigades, were more up my ally. In Dr Mengele’s twin experiments and the musical dwarfs of Auschwitz, I discovered a veritable Disneyland of atrocities. I was therefore not surprised when the special forces in the Ukraine War were called the Wagner Brigade.
When I woke up at six thirty on October 7th, Shabbat morning of Simchat Torah, my son came upstairs to get his handgun from the safe, saying only there was trouble in Gaza. My teenage daughter was initially upset as she had tickets for the Bruno Mars concert that evening in Tel Aviv, but quickly got the absurdity of her disappointment, when her brother was called up to serve a couple of hours later. She is a twelfth grader and has resumed school on Zoom this past week.
We are being told to lock the doors and stay alert. We are very alert. When the news about the Nova party emerged, my older daughter told me that she had been invited to the party and that her friend who had invited her was missing. A few days later this girl was found murdered. I felt lucky and she said ‘Birkat Hagomel’, a prayer you say when you have escaped disaster. She did not go to the funeral as that night we went into our bomb-shelter and she was too shaken to go. She did go to the Shiva and described her friends’ mother. I cried myself to sleep that night.
I thought of myself as someone who understood the ideology that took a cultured and civilized nation like Germany into the realms of the greatest ‘horror show’ the world had ever seen. I do not call it a ‘horror show’ lightly but as this is precisely what it is. The use of Snuff -Film of actual death by Hamas is psychological warfare. The entire world is being exposed to this footage via the global media and its aim is to traumatize the audience. I sense that weaponizing empathy is Hamas’s main goal in this war. It is clear that Israel has a great disadvantage in this realm and always has because unlike Al Jazeera and most of the global media, Israel waits to verify their stories, rather than report whatever furthers their immediate agenda. The misinformation on the Gaza hospital bombing, guaranteed that the next day no one would be interested that it was not Israel but a misfire by the Islamic Jihad. A Goebbels’ wet dream.
This use of psychological warfare aims to demoralize us and break our spirit and unity. It will not. The current media blitz could have come directly from Goebbels’ propaganda ministry which provided Adolf Hitler and the Nazi elite with a proven method for brainwashing or mind control. It was a very simple directive. “If you repeat the lie often enough, it will be believed.” This method gave the Nazis the power to implement and achieve their loathsome goals. This method has been adopted and is being deployed by our present-day enemies, Islamic-Nazis. During the battle of Stalingrad, Himmler had to give the German army a direct order to stop photographing the atrocities of war and sending the film canisters back to Germany to be developed by their families. He must have realized that these images would be proof of war crimes in the future and have a disturbing effect on the civilian German population. I have decided not to expose my eyes to the horrific material that is currently being produced and uploaded by Hamas.
On the twelfth day of the war, my son visited us for a short furlough. I felt some relief mixed with a surge of repulsion at the hellish scenarios he described. I am still trying to process the tales he shared of spending surreal nights sleeping in a fortified kibbutz kindergarten surrounded by toys and happy kids’ drawings. I saw it all in his eyes while he spoke of the Pogrom that had been perpetrated, by special forces and highly trained monsters who viciously attacked and mutilated unarmed civilians. It appears that the ideology of hate currently adopted by Hamas has been passed from one mentor to another through the generations all the way to the present day. I understand that the terrorists who participated in the massacre spoke various languages, including Farsi and various Arabic dialects. Hamas by any other name would smell of terror but they are not the only enemies we face.
I thought I would be more prepared, but I never allowed myself to believe that a massacre of Jews could happen again, thanks to our strong army. I was sure that we Israelis would never go like lambs to the slaughter again.
My oldest son is married to a doctor, she was called up for reserve duty. They have had to go to the basement often during the airstrikes over the Tel Aviv area, their dog Vince is totally terrified by the sirens and booms. One air-raid siren caught them outside during a walk in the park. Vince has always been an anxious type, now I’m sure he’ll have PTSD. And not only him, our whole nation is being held as emotional captives, every mother and father imagines the families of the children and adults being held in Gaza.
I pray for the Hostages every minute of the day. I sense that every day that passed endangers their lives and chances of being released. I want to believe that this is all a part the divine plan. I pray to God not only for my sons’ and daughters’ safety but for God to redeem all my people wherever they are in the world, and if possible, with all of humanity, at least those that are humane.
‘Am Yisrael Chai’