Believe all women, including Israeli women, too

Feb 20, 2024 | Hostages, Voices

When I went to sleep on Oct. 6, it was both Shabbat and Simchat Torah — Jewish days of rest and celebration. I awoke on Oct. 7 to a barrage of frantic messages: “Her friend is missing.” “Over 100 held hostage.” “My step-father’s friend was killed.” “600 killed. Now 1,000 killed. Now 1,200 killed.” I wrote to my family in Israel and held my breath.

Young women were disfigured, their bodies paraded into trucks by masked men, their pants bloodied. Children cried for their parents as entire families were slaughtered. Communities, neighborhoods, villages, once full of life, were ravaged by death and destruction. A concert for peace ended in the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

I grew up asking: How could anybody deny the Holocaust when survivors still live today?

In the aftermath of Oct. 7, I ask the same question: How could anybody deny the violence of Oct. 7 when it was livestreamed?

Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians — not military targets, civilians — was not done in secret. It was not done under the guise of virtue, nor were its horrors denied by its perpetrators. It was recorded and posted online, designed for the world to see.

And the world did see it. From thousands of miles away, videos were broadcasted on every news channel, plastered on every social media platform, flooded in every family Whatsapp group. The worst moments of the victims’ lives were documented and shared with the world. Their families lost any privacy they could hope for, any dignity of respecting their final moments.

Shortly thereafter, swarming the same social media platforms on which the gruesome images of Oct. 7 spread, came another unexpected reaction: denial.

Rape was used as a weapon of war, yet that rape was denied by the same groups who once promised to “believe all women.” “The weaponization of rape” has become a popular narrative as “Oct. 7 truthers” share viral conspiracies denying that sexual violence occurred in Hamas’ brutal attack.

[The NY Daily News Op-Ed continues]

As anti-Jewish violence has been denied throughout our history, it is denied again today.

In 2024, the slaughter of innocents should not be up for debate. Rape should not be up for debate. This ensuing conflict cannot be reduced to a spectator sport, one where we pick our side and deny the humanity of our supposed opposition. Dignity cannot be reserved for those on our “team.” And any lasting peace will not come by picking teams, for that matter. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians will continue for as long as the humanity of either people is rejected. Empathy exists in no small supply, and suffering is not zero-sum.

Our generation is meant to be one of fixers. We are meant to fight for justice where those before us have enabled injustice. We are meant to see past the veil of bigotry and ignorance, standing together for progress.

But, as too many flirt with the antisemitism of our past, progress is tenuous.

More than 100 days after Oct. 7, several young women remain hostages in Gaza. Their posters have been torn down, and their names have been forgotten. In this, the true meaning of feminism, of progressivism, of humanity and decency for all has been abandoned. Why?

Believe all women means believe all women.

Naama Levi. Noa Argamani. Liri Albag. Karina Ariev. Daniela Gilboa. Agam Berger.

Believe them, too. Bring them home.

Julia Jassey is the CEO of Jewish on Campus.

View this New York Daily News Op-Ed from February 20th