Beth Cohen
Unabashed lesbian equalist and ardent Zionist

It is time for me to speak – or shout

That I am sitting and writing a blog for the Times of Israel means that something has shaken me to the core. It is no surprise that I am thinking about October 7th.

It has taken me 5 months, or in terms of our reality, (Monday) 150 days, or in terms of every Israeli, 150.10.2023 – I do not know if I speak for ‘everyone’ but I am comfortable saying that I speak for the majority. October 7th, 2023, lives in our hearts and souls as the day of the worst catastrophe since the establishment of the state.

It has taken me this much time to not only internalize that a massacre and holocaust happened in Israel on the Shabbat of Simchat Torah. A holy day of celebration turned into a day of atrocities, mass murder, attempted genocide, torture of children and elderly, gang rapes and mass mutilation of innocents… of people whose only crime is being Israeli and caught in and near their homes on the border with Gaza.

I have always been left leaning in my politics – I demonstrated to ‘return’ Gaza to the Palestinians, believing that land for peace was something real and tangible, something on which to base a future and the possibility of 2 countries side by side, Israel and Palestine. I believed. I wanted to believe that finally, the original idea of the UN’s establishment of 2 states could happen.

If on October 6th there was any remaining hope of that kind of peace, October 7th destroyed my naivety. My heart was broken, my soul trampled. The feeling in my body and in my soul was akin to someone hanging with ropes around my ankles from a high branch as multitudes with dull knives lynch my body from head to toe, removing my arms, my breasts, my heart…

It has taken me 150 days of mourning – restless nights, therapy, days of mental and physical paralysis – interrupted by hours’ work, and an unholy intake of Xanax and carbs. No, I do not know the hostages personally. No, my friends and family were not at the nova festival. But yes – they are my children, my parents, my grandparents, my people.

I believe that every Israeli understands how I experienced this horrific, black Shabbat.

I think that some Jews, not in Israel, understand the meaning of this horrific tragedy on the soil of Israel.

And those who remained in denial are left in their respective countries facing a level of antisemitism that reminds all the rest of us pre-WWII Germany.

My grandfather, poppa – who understood my Aliyah back in 1983 and proudly came to visit whenever he could – and sent my grandma when he couldn’t make the flight – He understood antisemitism and the value of the State of Israel. He used to say that any and every problem in the world is eventually blamed on the Jews. The Jews are blamed for everything, even their own persecution and the camps…

Herein lies my inability to come to terms with what happened:

  • The fact that our own government dropped the ball, choosing to ignore the signs and the warnings (especially the alarms set by the women soldiers guarding the border).
  • The fact that 134 hostages are still being held without any signs of life – the Red Cross clearly denying any responsibility to check in on their status.
  • The fact that rape and sex slavery is the most likely status of the hostages, those that are still alive.
  • The fact that they are starved and held in darkness.
  • The fact that they do not know that we are waiting for their return.
  • Yes waiting, because it is not clear that anyone besides the US is actually actively working for their freedom.

Here’s what is in me that prevents me from moving forward into the light of day:

  • They have been held for over 150 days.
  • The pictures of the women display the inhumane circumstances of their captivity.
  • There were children among the hostages – where are they.
  • I am fairly certain that if it was me, I would no longer be praying for my return – but for a quick death and an end to this torture.

I spend my days with my heart in my hands, silently weeping into the blood that runs down my arms and legs – begging for release. I go back to my childhood, when I was abused and assaulted, even when they did their worst, I had access to food, to fresh air, to sunshine…

The blackness of the hostages’ lives is only colored with blood and pain and fear.

How much can anyone person overcome before death is the preferred outcome?

Time is precious. Every minute of every hour of every day – and here we are 150 days…

The silence is a deafening sign of death.

About the Author
Beth Cohen, born July 19th 1962 in Brooklyn, NY. Attended Syracuse University and made Aliyah upon graduation in Sept 1983. She became a member of Kibbutz Ketura, married and started the journey as a mother to two boys, now 33 and 36 years. Grandmother to a 6 year old and 2 and a half year old. Both are pure light, even when they are not. In 1997, Beth moved her family to Binyamina, where she lived until moving to Zichron with her wife. Throughout the years, Beth has had many jobs, including speech therapist, shiatsu therapist, kibbutz gardner and irrigation manager, medical sales rep, regional sales manager and client retention. Beth and her wife co-founded a medical writing business, and she continues to work as a medical marketing writer and editor. While these occupations have been a constant, Beth's passion and constant is writing, using the written platform as her mediium to share her experiences and life views. In 2017, Beth published her first novel, a futuristic women's dystopian novel, Her Destiny Is Change. The feedback was, and continues to be fantastic. Beth promoted the book with book readings here in Israel and in Amsterdam. In the early 2000's Beth started writing and publish her blog, LesbosOnTheCouch, which became popular both here in Israel and abroad, giving her almost celebrity status among English speaking lesbians in Israel. Currently, Beth, like much the rest of the population is praying for the safe return of the hostages and world peace. The hostages return needs to be real.
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