I am a musician, my entire life is filled with music and singing. But today I cannot listen to music or sing.
I wake up and scroll through social media. I see an old woman; she is 94 years old.
Her voice is low and it wobbles – I can hear the history of Holocaust in every intonation of her voice.
‘I have one thing to ask’, she says. ‘Why not me? Why my granddaughter?’ The pictures show a beautiful young woman smiling, then her body mutilated, bloody. Since the Holocaust Jews have been saying ‘Never again’. These two words are written on the walls of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
But ‘Never again is Now’
I weep. God weeps.
I get on with my day – school run, dog walk – nature helps.
My son says: ‘Mum, don’t wear the Star of David – you are painting yourself as a target’
I open the news – a Jewish men was killed in Los Angeles; Jewish woman was beaten up on the train in London; ‘Gas the Jews’ – shout protesters in Sidney; ‘Kill them all’ – Russia (Dagestan airport), Kosher restaurant vandalised in Houston. Is this 2023?
I weep. God weeps.
I get on with my day. I scroll though my social media accounts. Demonstrations full of hatred, antisemitic slogans (calling of annihilation of Israel – ‘from the river to the sea’), violence towards Jewish students on International University campuses, hateful verbal and physical abuse towards jews on the streets of London.
Deafening silence from most of my non-Jewish friends. How is it possible that so many people are still silent when cheerleaders for terrorists decide to celebrate the worse massacre and take it as a sign to open a global front targeting Jews on the streets, in universities, at work and at homes?
Israeli media filled with pictures and descriptions of Jewish women raped, beheaded babies, entire families burnt alive, men skinned alive, elderly shot at point blank. Endless funerals and mothers sobbing. Installations of Shabbat tables and beds ready for the hostages to return around the world in Jewish communities. Mighty cries to release the hostages.
I turn on Israeli news. I see an evidence of a tiny body, burnt beyond recognition. The caretaker says they found it in the oven. The post mortem shows that the mother died much later, which means they made her watch how her baby is burning alive in her own kitchen, in her own oven.
I can’t breathe. I start coughing, the grief, rage and disbelief wants to escape my body, but they are stuck in my throat. In my ears I hear stories of my great grandmother about Pogroms in Ukraine, in Russian. In my eyes I see pictures of the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Jews wearing yellow stars, being marched to their death just for being Jewish. I throw up. But what I see now is far worse than this. The world needs to see the raw footage of what was done to 1400 people – among them Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists all living peacefully in Israel. The world needs to see this 45 minute long footage of videos taken by the inhuman Hamas beasts during the attack on Israel; raping dead bodied of Jewish women, torturing children, burning elderly alive. The world needs to see the body of that burnt baby taken out of the oven. This is who pro-Palestinians living in the west march for? This is who they call militants and freedom fighters? Social media filled with enraged ill-informed deniers, brainwashed faces shouting on TikTok through self-made videos, expressing opinions while in the safety of their western civilization’s homes, where the biggest existential crisis is a dead battery.
I feel heavy, helpless. God weeps unconsolably.
They say CEASEFIRE after the worst assault on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.
Free the hostages – 240 civilians, is not on the news. Free Palestine – is on the news. ‘Free it from what? From who?’ I ask?
An Iraqi friend, who found political asylum in London tells me how they (Shia) have been terrorised in Iraq, with the same cruelty by Hamas, as was done now in Israel. She says; ‘ They would cut pregnant women open, stub their babies, burn their own Muslim brother alive. Everyone would live in terror’
A video of a Palestinian emerges begging to end Hamas occupation, to free its people from this agony, the Al-Jazeera correspondent doesn’t let him finish. The news totally ignores the fact that Palestinians are being used as pawns, as human shields in this Hamas/ Iran/Russia power, hatred driven game of annihilation of Israel. The news ignores the fact that Hamas fighters dress in civilian clothes, they know that Israelis will not shoot a civilian; that the health minister of Gaza is also Hamas and his reports of casualties are disproportionately exaggerated; the news ignores the fact that Palestinian’s own government speaks openly about his people being martyrs. No one demonstrates against war crimes committed towards Palestinian people by its own government – Hamas.
In Gaza there is chaos, destruction, death. A father holding a toy of his child buried in the rubbles in northern Gaza. Mothers sobbing holding injured children close in their arms. Endless funerals. My heart aches for the agony of these people and what they are feeling, while no other Arab country wants them or helps them. A thought crosses my mind that the world stopped talking about Ukraine, how lovely this must be for Mr. Putin!
Israel has been attacked and it has the right to defend itself, but every step Israel makes affects not just the future of Israel, but the present of Jews in diaspora.
I can’t weep. God still weeps.
I watch Israeli/ Palestinian woman marching for peace in Jerusalem. Circles of prayer and grief. Life is not black and white; it is complex, impossible to comprehend now and yet it is human.
How is it possible for the men and women from the southern communities of Israel, who for their entire life span advocated for peace and coexistence, and after watching their families slaughtered and burnt, and now are still are calling for peace with Palestinians.
How is it possible for Israeli Arabs, who are Muslims and live in Israel to heroically save Jewish lives and fight against other Muslims on October 7th.
How is it even comprehendible to belong to the 21st century and to feel that your home as a Jew anywhere in the world is no longer the safest place to be.
How is it possible to split your heart and feel grief for two nations? Vivian was a lifelong social activist, working for the advancement of women and peace in Israel. She was one of the founders of Women Wage Peace. During her free time, she volunteered to drive Palestinian patients and their families from the Gaza strip into Israeli hospitals for treatment. She was brutally murdered on the 7th of October.
How is it fair to have to protest against your own government with hundreds of Israelis, knowing how dangerous and immoral it is and finding out that the danger on the 7th of October was beyond anything you could ever imagine.
How is it possible to live with a government that you don’t trust in times of catastrophe, like a child of an abusive parent finding yourself dependant on someone who was in charge of your safety and let you down.
How complex it is to know that is the crucial act of survival to eliminate a monstrous terrorist organization, which strategically and systematically embeds itself amongst its citizens, knowing you have to save Israeli citizens from its cruelty, but not knowing how without immense violence and opening another circle of hatred. How to do this under such pressure from the entire world watching and condemning Israel.
How is it possible to look into my son’s eyes and not to feel guilty for the world that he is living in, helpless to change it, often feeling like a pawn in someone’s big and cruel game. I was hoping not to pass to him what I carry: The heavy weight of my Ukrainian/Russian Jewish ancestors, killed in pogroms. The weight of 6 million jews annihilated in the Holocaust. Antisemitism in St. Petersburg, where I was born. An uncle killed in a suicide bomb attack on a bus during the second Intifada in Israel. And now this….
I scroll, I wait, I watch, waiting for their return – #bringthemhome. Waiting for the dying to stop. Waiting for the humanity to prevail. Waiting for my non-Jewish friends to say something in condemnation of antisemitism. Waiting for when the world acknowledges the horrific atrocities done to innocent people in southern Israel. Waiting for when the world will start seeing the bigger picture of the suffering Palestinian people, beyond the dirty propaganda of the bloodthirsty rich leaders of Hamas/Islamic Jihad and every terrorist organization in pursuit after evil.
I weep. A little bit of me dies with every fallen Israeli soldier, every dead Palestinian baby. Each one had an entire world in them.
When will I feel like myself again? Maybe when the hostages are returned? Maybe when the silence of my friends will turn into a loud roar of support? Because to me the silence means no one cares about you as a Jew. It is as horrifying as the terror acts themselves.
Maybe when my people and I can feel safe just being Jewish…
I am bereaved, angry, but my heart is open and lost in endless questions with very scary answers or no answers at all.
I am a Jew and an Israeli and to me the answer here is very simple – I love Israel, I need Israel, I can live as a Jew outside Israel but not without it. Since 1896 Theodor Herzl witnessed brutal European antisemitism first hand, he became convinced that the Jewish people could never survive outside of a country. Israel is so precious to every Jew in the world. I witness it now, as I see El-Al planes full with people returning to Israel to help the fighting, to volunteer, to support their country in the darkest of times. I see an incredible unity of Jewish people around the world, marching for peace, collecting donations, sending packages, supplies to Israel, hosting families. There is an incredible solidarity, one I have only ever seen happen in Israel and to Jewish people. One that I have never seen anywhere in the world at times like this.
The evening arrives, I feel exhausted, I am determined to keep my spirit high and not to be defeated.
I remember that Hebrew word Shalom, which means so many things, among them – WHOLE. Maybe it is the whole of coexistence, the distant future of peace. There is a lot to do before this can happen. I listen to music; I am reminded that Jews have always lived IN BETWEEN and everything is always mixed – the sadness and the joy live together in each Jewish heart. I feel better, I sing, I am reminded that music brings everyone together, allows for all feelings and emotions to be expressed.
I feel a little better, my heart is filling with love, empathy, hope and determination.
I will not be silent, I will not tolerate antisemitism. I condemn hate speech, harassment, abuse towards Jewish people. It is criminal, totally unacceptable and must be persecuted.
I am a human, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am Jewish, I am Israeli-British. I AM NOT A TARGET!
I am here to stay and the children of the children of the children, of the children, of the children of my children are here to stay.
The state of Israel is here to stay.
I pray…. God sighs