Rape, murder and mutilation on an industrial scale — why I had to watch the film of Hamas’s atrocities

Nov 30, 2023 | Read Now, Trending

A report by Rachel Johnson, a contributing editor of The Evening Standard


I couldn’t sit through Schindler’s List when the children were little and found even March of the Penguins, when an egg rolls from the snug of the daddy penguin’s crotch to freeze solid on the ice, a truly tough watch.

No way then could I sit through the 43 minutes spliced together by the Israeli state of the atrocities of 7/10 to provide real-time testimony of brutality and slaughter on a scale not seen since the Holocaust.


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He was right. All too quickly, 7/10 has become an argument about who was writing history and not what had happened, which was becoming a matter of opinion and not of fact.


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The small private screening of the Hamas House of Horror film took place at RUSI, in Whitehall, in the institute’s dignified circular library, on a screen in front of mahogany shelves lined with military history and bronze busts of famous generals. I sat between my colleagues Nick and Tom Swarbrick, with Stephen Fry right behind, occasionally emitting a musical moan during a botched beheading, and Owen Jones in front.


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Now, while I agreed when he said he refused to breakdown his empathy for the suffering of others — ie the many thousands killed in Gaza — by selectively focusing only suffering of some — ie the far fewer victims of the massacre — I disagreed with him on the following.

We were not there as part of a propaganda exercise but to “bear witness” (the title of the film). No instructions from the podium needed. The film spoke for itself.


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A couple of days later, I went on the anti antisemitism march. I’m not Jewish, I do have Jewish antecedents but I didn’t go for that.

I stood in the cold drizzle because callers to my show say they are frightened; they say they want to leave the capital, and they say they’d be safer in Israel than on the streets of London, clogged with righteous students in keffiyeh waving their Palestinian flags from Amazon and chanting “from the river to the sea”.


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To conclude. I didn’t want to see the film. I didn’t want to go on the march. I didn’t even want to write this.

Sometimes you have to show up, and this is one of those times.

View the entire report in The Standard Report from November 30.