In May, the United Nations (UN) made the ineffable decision to appoint an envoy of a regime known for its human rights infringements, especially those of women, the Islamic Republic of Iran — to chair a UN human rights council meeting in Geneva. The US and rights groups protested this absurd decision, however it remained in effect nevertheless. A voice that was not heard among those who stood for the rights of women, was of the UN Women. As noted on its website, the UN Women is the UN organization in charge of upholding women’s human rights “and ensuring that every woman and girl lives up to her full potential.” The voice of the UN Women and other women’s rights organizations was also absent when hundreds of Jewish women were raped, tortured and burnt alive by the terrorist organization Hamas on October 7th in Israel. The wise words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn’t be more fitting: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
However, amidst the deafening silence, the actions of heroic women on October 7th and its aftermath, speak volumes. Israeli female soldiers in air, sea and land, had proven in this war, more than any in modern times that women are no less suited for combat than their fellow men. There have been numerous courageous acts of women and some paid the ultimate price while saving the lives of others. Magen David Adom paramedic and paramedic course instructor Amit Mann, 22, was murdered by Hamas terrorists when they stormed the clinic in Kibbutz Be’eri where she was treating the wounded. When US President Joe Biden visited Israel on October 18th one of the women he met with was Inbal Rabin-Liberman. Born in Kibbutz Nir-Am, by the border between Israel and Gaza, the now 26-years-old was appointed last year as the first woman to serve as the security coordinator of the kibbutz. On the morning of October 7th, Inbal identified unusual sounds near the Kibbutz. She swiftly decided to distribute weapons among the 12 members of the quick response group manned by residents of the kibbutz. She stationed the men in different ambushes by the perimeter of the kibbutz and, along with her fellow residents, saved the lives of her kibbutz families.
Throughout history, women warriors and rulers rose to the challenge in the face of atrocities. Greek mythology tells the fearless acts of Penthesilea, the Queen of the Amazons. The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra in 51 B.C.E. The Queen of Sheba in the tenth century B.C.E. In biblical times Israel, Deborah, a major Jewish judge, prophet and military leader in 1107 B.C. Queen Esther in the Persian diaspora was able to save Jews from destruction in the fourth century B.C.E. Boudicca, the ancient British Queen who in 60 C.E. led a revolt against Roman rule. Lady Fu Hao of China in 1200 B.C. served as a military general and high priestess. St. Joan of Arc, the national heroine of France, a peasant girl who led the French army in momentous victories in the 15th century. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American leader in the women’s rights movement who, in 1848, formulated the first concerted demand for women’s suffrage in the US. The mother of the US civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, who helped launch the 1955–56 Montgomery bus boycott. Harriet Tubman, an American bondwoman who escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. And these are just a few examples.
Much is still being learned from the darkest day in modern Israel history, where over 1,200 innocent civilians — babies, children, the elderly, men and women were slaughtered, tortured, beheaded, burnt alive and raped — just because they were Jews. And over 240 were abducted to Gaza. However, one conclusion can already be inferred: the era of the powerful women, who rise from the ashes, cannot and will not be silenced.