Walk to remember the one hundred and thirty-two

Pro-Palestinian sign placed in front of Addis Israel synagogue, Washington D.C.

I walk along the streets of my Northwestern D.C. neighborhood, and it does not feel like home anymore. Neighborhoods home to a large Jewish community and known for their leafier streets abutting Rock Creek and the scenic Soapstone Valley have since the October 7th massacre become a poster-board for the most aggressive anti-Israel campaign throughout the entire city. Defacing of bus stops, street signs, lampposts, and sidewalks adorned with the now familiar “From the River to the Sea” slogan are now commonplace, alongside signage calling for “de-colonization” and the libelous “Israel kills kids.” Posting a picture of a Hamas-held hostage begs that it get torn down within several hours. Every day I see all of it, and in attempts to intimidate those of us whom support Israel and refuse to surrender to the worst of our sensibilities I know this repugnant campaign will only get worse.

But this past weekend I walked through my neighborhood, past the graffiti, stickers, posters, and other anti-Israeli dictates placed by this militant activist class. I needed a reminder that I was not a stranger in a strange land, but also that for those 132 hostages still in captivity a reminder that we still care, and we will not forget them.

On a prominent corner of the embassy-lined thoroughfare, next to authoritarian stalwarts China and Jordan, stands Israel’s, and on the grounds of the embassy property facing both streets are the pictures of those taken by Hamas on October 7th. This is where I walked. The faces, names, ages, races, and ethnicities signifying the diversity that is the state of Israel stare back at anyone stopping for one moment to remember that these people were abducted by the forces of evil, and to remember the brutality of what happened on that fateful morning. So, it was on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that I stopped and looked back at the faces of Hamzah Al-Zayadni (22), Edan Alexander (19), Joshua Mollel (21), Matan Angrest (19), Uriel Baruch (35, who’s poster was on my street before being ripped down), Ziv Berman (26), Gadi Moses (80), and the Bibas children. While these victims have long been erased from the rest of the world’s memory bank, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day they would not be erased from mine nor others who came to pay their respects and pray for their safe return. This will not be my last stop at the Israeli embassy’s shrine to the hostages, a shining beacon of hope and defiance in an otherwise declining state of hostility and moral decay that has overtaken my neighborhood and my city.

About the Author
Ryan Gardiner, a Navy Veteran and 2016 Presidential Management Fellow, previously served as Managing Editor for Harvard Kennedy School's Journal for Middle-Eastern Politics and Policy in 2016, and an Assistant Managing Editor for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy in 2020. His previous works can be found in the National Interest and in Small Wars Journal.
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