7-10-23; on that day our world changed for ever. It was a second act of creation, albeit an inversion of the original biblical narrative. This time there was order before the bang and after it came chaos. 7-10-23 was a special shabbat, it coincided with the day when the annual Torah reading cycle ends and immediately restarts. It is supposed to be a happy day, dancing with the Torah scrolls, drinking toasts to life, enjoying the company of friends and family. This year was different.
It is around 8.20am, I am in the synagogue, the service is concluding. Suddenly, the wail of an air raid siren, shocked disbelief for an instant, then, a loud but measured command “everyone, to the bomb shelter”. No panic, we begin moving towards the exit. But I ask myself where is the shelter, I have no idea, we never had a practise drill.
People move to the exit, there is no panic, and then, the flow stops. I hear “no room in shelter”. About fifty motionless people are looking at each other uncomfortably as the siren continues to scream. Then a thunderous BOOM explodes somewhere above and shocked realisation hits like a sledgehammer.
This is not a false alarm!
I am helping a neighbour who uses a walker, we are standing in the open, unsure of what to do. Deciding the best course of action is to go home I slowly help him down the stairs. The siren has stopped screaming but the sound reverberates through my head. At the foot of the stairs a resident of the neighbourhood is telling everyone, “Its war, its war!”
I think to myself all we need right now is a panic merchant; little did I know.
With some relief I see no destroyed buildings and realise the boom was an aftershock from a direct hit on a rocket by the iron dome defence system. I rush to our apartment meet Denise at the entrance, she tells me, “I rushed to the shelter in our building it was locked, luckily someone downstairs had a key”.
After entering our apartment we try to act normal, theorising and preparing for the family Shabbat lunch when Denise cries out, “oh my God, look, Yoav’s son is in uniform they are taking him in the car, that poor family.” Another sledgehammer, this is serious, it’s not a couple of rockets from Gaza, shit, they are calling up the army!
I think, what can it be like farewelling a son going to war? My heart goes out to this family, Denise is in tears.; the same scene is being played out all over the country.
Our family arrives, two more sirens, we jump up from the table, clamber down two flights of stairs to the shelter, we have 90 seconds warning in Jerusalem. We hear thunderous BOOMs this is unlike anything we have experienced before.
Shabbat comes out, we rush to switch on phones, the TV, anxious to find out what is happening. What we are forced to process are scenes and stories from a holocaust documentary. Hamas had caught us with our pants down, a catastrophic failure of all intelligence services, the army, and the government. The terror group had executed a plan developed over months. First, they disabled the border observation systems and overcame the defenders who were at half strength because of the religious holiday. Then thousands of degenerate savages poured over the border and proceeded to murder, mutilate, and brutalise, their victims were men, women, children and babies. Whole families murdered in their homes, babies decapitated, women raped, cars set alight with their occupants inside. Hundreds of young people attending a music festival shot in the back or blown up by grenades. In scenes of unbridled cruelty and heartlessness hundreds of people taken hostage, babies, the old and the young, holocaust survivors; all brutally bundled into small trucks, women dragged from their cars by the hair, the injured pulled along the ground accompanied by taunting and humiliation.
I can never understand what happened because my psyche is imbued with basic values of decency that enable me to qualify as human. To understand the perpetrators of Israel’s 9/11 I would have to crawl into the mind of an organism with no capacity for embracing any of the values we cherish as humans.
For five minutes the world expressed its horror when confronted with images of the carnage, images captured by the perpetrators and proudly displayed all over social media. The world loves nothing more than crying over dead Jews, it’s the live ones they have problems with. So, when this country recovered and fought back the world media, with some exceptions, began a concerted campaign to demonise the victims, those terrible war mongering Jews, and to deify the perpetrators. Nothing new in this, anti semitism is the world’s oldest hatred, it’s a virus that always adapts to a situation that provides opportunity for demonising Jews.
And so world, some uncomfortable truths.
Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 it is not “occupied”.
This war thrust on Israel is not about national aspirations it was initiated by terrorists taking orders from Iran. Since 2007 Hamas have held the people of Gaza hostage and used them as cannon fodder. They have no interest in, and are incapable of, building anything except for an infrastructure of destruction.
Thankfully some leaders in the so called free world still have a correctly calibrated moral compass. They understand the difference between good and evil and we are grateful for their support. As for the others if you were really interested in the welfare of the people of Gaza you would seek to eradicate this cancer and restore humanity to a people who are oppressed by themselves. Unfortunately, your moral compasses are so skewed by your hatred of Jews that recalibration is not possible and your own humanity has been compromised as a result.
Be warned, this evil Israel is now battling to eradicate is a Trojan Horse already inside your own countries. In generations to come you will be fighting this same war.