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A Tel Aviv exhibit recreates the Nova massacre site in exacting detail, with healing as an aim

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Daniel Ozeri found himself returning to the worst moments of his life on a recent Sunday — not inside his own mind, but inside a Tel Aviv convention center.

Ozeri was in Expo Tel Aviv, a sprawling complex in the city’s north where the Nova music festival — which ended when Hamas attacked on Oct. 7 — has been recreated in exacting detail.

At least 364 party-goers were murdered and 40 taken hostage at the festival on Kibbutz Re’im, which quickly became a powerful symbol of Israel’s loss. Ozeri, like so many others, spent hours running away with “bullets flying over your head,” losing his jewelry as he scrambled in a forested area near the festival site.

He said visiting the exhibit — with its incinerated cars, bullet-ridden portable toilets and piles of personal items — was not easy but felt essential.

“It really brings me back there and the horrific pain of that moment, but we have to return there to memorialize what happened and remember our friends who were killed there,” Ozeri said. Leaving the exhibit for some fresh air, Ozeri recalls in detail how he and his best friend escaped the festival grounds and survived, while some of his close friends and countless others with familiar faces from years of trance parties did not.

It’s a somber experience that the organizers of the “6:29” exhibition — named for the moment the trance music stopped that morning as the sirens of incoming rockets blared — hope is being repeated often during its limited run.

“The whole idea of the memorial here is to actualize what was at the event and where it stopped,” said Sarel Botavia, 26, one of the Nova festival producers who helped design the exhibit. “The exhibit expresses the distance between the love we are trying to express and the hatred and massacre that occurred there.”

An exhibit about the Nova festival massacre on Oct. 7 aims to raise funds for survivors’ therapy and rehabilitation costs. (Eliyahu Freedman)

The exhibit, which charges a minimum donation of NIS 50, or roughly $13.75, to enter, is a fundraiser for the Nova community’s continued healing expenses and long-term vision. It aims to ensure that their legacy is not merely one of tragedy, but of rebirth and survival.

It comes amid both a wave of initiatives to support Nova survivors, including a therapeutic retreat in central Israel, as well as mounting concerns about whether they are getting all the help they desperately need.

Families from the festival community, who lack the geographic bonds of the kibbutzes attacked on Oct. 7, recently formed an association to argue that their needs were being neglected. Initially, the government provided some cash and psychological assistance for survivors and victims of the Nova and Psyduck festivals, but much of the healing expenses since have relied on civilian support. Anger has also poured out within the Nova community over reports indicating that army intelligence in the early morning of Oct. 7 regarding an imminent invasion could have been used to evacuate the festival hours before the onslaught began.

Against that backdrop, the exhibit and other efforts focused on the Nova massacre aim to make true a slogan that has been adopted by what is now being called the “Tribe of Nova”: “We will dance again.”

Visitors to an exhibit about the Nova trance music festival massacre have added messages to a board featuring a slogan used by survivors. (Eliyahu Freedman)

The message has sounded from the earliest days after Oct. 7, as members of the trance music community vowed not to let the attack by Hamas dampen their spirits forever. It has recently gotten powerful boosts from survivors, including one who made a dance video from her wheelchair with social media influencer Montana Tucker. Mia Shem, a 26-year-old who had been abducted from the site and injured, unveiled a tattoo of the slogan after being freed.

Whether walking through a detailed reenactment is helpful to survivors and others is up for debate. For some, being immersed in the sights and sounds of that day could trigger post-traumatic anxiety. But there is also evidence from research that exposure to the scene of trauma can be useful in post-traumatic counseling and recovery.

A psychiatrist who treated Nova survivors in the first few weeks after the tragedy told JTA that each individual response to trauma is different and for some the exhibit can be healing. On the national level, the psychiatrist, who asked to remain anonymous, believes that there is immense power in the Nova community being empowered to take control of their narrative in such a public forum.

Nova festival producer Nimrod Arnin, who lost his sister in the 10/7 attack, said that they are “taking effort to explain to survivors who are coming of the intensity of the experience and that there are some who are choosing not to attend the exhibit.”

And while he explains that the event is “intended for the Israeli public to elevate consciousness and raise funds… except for the exact reenactment of the site, there are no aggressive noises of explosions or gunfire or displays of blood.” Organizers discourage children from attending.

Israelis visit an exhibition of objects collected from the Nova Party Massacre in Tel Aviv, December 28, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Visitors enter the darkly lit indoor hall and proceed into the “camping area,” with tents and other gear strewn across the floor and a game of backgammon in progress, as many fled the scene without time to assemble their belongings. Past the rows of tents lies the bathroom and parking area where the most gruesome evidence of the Hamas slaughter on site is found: a yellow portable toilet with 11 bullet holes and destroyed cars that were towed from the festival site are stacked on top of each other, burnt beyond recognition.

In the center of the reconstructed dance floor, shrouded by the colorful festival shade, a somber visual projection shows angels rising on loop, representing the young lives tragically taken. On the periphery are sections dedicated to artistic tributes where visitors wrote hundreds of handwritten notes such as “Liron: you are in our hearts forever.”

An area with personal belongings is both an exhibit and an actual lost-and-found.

Personal items abandoned at the Nova trance music festival are collected in a real lost-and-found at an exhibit about the massacre there. (Eliyahu Freedman)

“We brought the gear here for people to see and search for,” explained volunteer Yael Finkelstein, who said there are two kinds of people collecting. ”There are those who were at the party and survived and also families whose children were murdered looking through — there are people who want to throw out the gear and others who really hold onto each item.”

Ozeri combed through the items but said he had little hope of finding his own lost things. Still, he said, he was taking away from the exhibit a small reminder of the “true freedom and happiness” that trance parties bring — one that he vowed would be valuable one day in the future.

“We are not ready to dance again. It is not the appropriate time as we are still mourning all our friends and those who we don’t know where they are,” he said. “There are things much more important than dancing now, but the time will come when all the captives are returned and we will win by dancing. And many people who have no relationship with trance festivals will join to commemorate our friends. If we don’t dance it will be as if we allowed them to defeat us.”


The post A Tel Aviv exhibit recreates the Nova massacre site in exacting detail, with healing as an aim appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics

And who has the best chance of medalling in Paris.

The post Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Kamala Harris’s Record on Israel Raises Questions About Support for Jewish State if Elected US President

US Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

Following US President Joe Biden’s stunning exit from the 2024 presidential race, allies of Israel are looking for clues as to how Vice President Kamala Harris, the new presumptive Democratic nominee, could approach issues affecting the Jewish state if she were to win the White House in November.

Harris’s previous statements reveal a mixed record on Israel, offering signs of both optimism and pessimism to pro-Israel advocates.

Though Harris has voiced support for the Jewish state’s right to existence and self defense, she has also expressed sympathy for far-left narratives that brand Israel as “genocidal.” The vice president has additionally often criticized Israel’s war effort against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

In 2017, while giving a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), then-Senator Harris delivered a 19-minute speech in which she showered praise on Israel, stating that she supports “the United States’ commitment to provide Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade.” Harris stated that America has “shared values” with Israel and that the bond between the two nations is “unbreakable.”

In 2020, while giving another speech to AIPAC, Harris emphasized that US support for Israel must remain “rock solid” and noted that Hamas “maintains its control of Gaza and fires rockets.”

Despite such statements of support, however, Harris has previously exhibited a degree of patience for those who make baseless smears against Israel. 

In October 2021, when confronted by a George Mason University student who angrily accused Israel of committing “ethnic genocide” against Palestinians, Harris quietly nodded along and then praised the student. 

“And again, this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard,” Harris told the student. 

Following Hamas’ slaughter of 1,200 people and kidnapping of 250 others across southern Israel on Oct. 7, Harris has shown inconsistent support for the Jewish state. Although she initially backed Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas’ terrorism, she has also levied sharp criticism against the Jewish state’s ensuing war effort in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

During a call with then-Israeli war cabinet leader Benny Gantz earlier this year, Harris suggested that the Jewish state has recklessly imperiled the lives of Palestinian civilians while targeting Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

“Far too many Palestinian civilians, innocent civilians have been killed,” Harris said. 

The same month, while delivering a speech commemorating the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, Harris called the conditions in Gaza “devastating.”

“And given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks,” Harris said.

While speaking with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover in April, Harris shared “deep concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and discussed steps to increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians and ensure its safe distribution.”

Harris also pushed the unsubstantiated narrative that Israel has intentionally withheld aid from the people of Gaza, triggering a famine. 

“People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane. And our common humanity compels us to act,” Harris said. “The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid.”

The United Nations Famine Review Committee (FRC), a panel of experts in international food security and nutrition, released a report in June arguing that there is not enough “supporting evidence” to suggest that a famine has occurred in Gaza.

Harris has also expressed sympathy for anti-Israel protesters on US university campuses. In an interview published earlier this month, Harris said that college students protesting Israel’s defensive military efforts against Hamas are “showing exactly what the human emotion should be.”

“There are things some of the protesters are saying that I absolutely reject, so I don’t mean to wholesale endorse their points,” she added. “But we have to navigate it. I understand the emotion behind it.”

Some indicators suggest that Harris could adopt a more antagonistic approach to the Jewish state than Biden. For example, Harris urged the White House to be more “sympathetic” toward Palestinians and take a “tougher” stance against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Politico report in December. In March, White House aides forced Harris to tone down a speech that was too tough on Israel, according to NBC News.

Later, she did not rule out “consequences” for Israel if it launched a large-scale military offensive to root out Hamas battalions in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, citing humanitarian concerns for the civilian population.

Harris initially called for an “immediate ceasefire” before Biden and has often used more pointed language when discussing the war, Israel, and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. However, her advisers have sought to downplay the notion that she may be tougher on the Jewish state.

“The difference is not in substance but probably in tone,” one of Harris’s advisers told The Nation.

Meanwhile, Halie Soifer, who served as national security adviser to Harris during the then-senator’s first two years in Congress, said the current vice president’s support for Israel has been just as strong as Biden’s. “There really has been no daylight to be found” between the two, she told Reuters.

Still, Biden, 81, has a decades-long history of maintaining relationships with Israeli leaders and recently called himself a “Zionist.” Harris, 59, does not have such a connection to the Jewish state and maintains closer ties to Democratic progressives, many of whom have increasingly called for the US to turn away — or at least adopt a tougher approach toward — Israel

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested that Harris would be a far less reliable ally than Biden, pointing to her ideological alignment with the most progressive lawmakers in Congress. 

“Biden made many mistakes regarding Israel, but he is miles ahead of Harris in terms of support for Israel,” Friedman told The Jerusalem Post. “She is on the fringe of the progressive wing of the party, which sympathizes more with the Palestinian cause.”

“This will move Jewish voters to the Republican side,” the former ambassador argued. “Harris lacks any affinity for Israel, and the Democratic Convention will highlight this contrast. This could lead to a historic shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.”

Meanwhile, J Street, a progressive Zionist organization, eagerly endorsed Harris the day after Biden dropped out of the presidential race, citing her “nuanced, balanced approach” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflictt.

“Kamala Harris has been a powerful advocate for J Street’s values in the White House, from the fight against antisemitism to the need for a nuanced, balanced approach on Israel-Palestine,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. “She’s been a steadfast supporter of hostage families and Israel’s security, while also being a leading voice for the protection of Palestinian civilians and the need to secure an urgent ceasefire.”

The post Kamala Harris’s Record on Israel Raises Questions About Support for Jewish State if Elected US President first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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US House Speaker Mike Johnson Blasts Kamala Harris for Skipping Netanyahu Address

US House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks to members of the media at the Capitol building, April 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

US House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) on Tuesday slammed Vice President Kamala Harris over her decision not to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint session of the US Congress.

“It has never been more important than it is right now for us to stand with our closest ally in the Middle East,” Johnson told reporters at the US Capitol, arguing it is “inexcusable” and “outrageous” that Harris is “boycotting” Netanyahu’s speech.

“This is a historic moment,” Johnson continued. “It is an important moment for the country, for all the reasons we’ve said. The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated, and yet Kamala Harris will abandon her seat. As you all know, as the vice president and serving as the president of the Senate, she is supposed to be seated next to me in the rostrum. She will not be there, because she refuses to attend.”

Johnson stated Harris needs to be “held accountable” for skipping Netanyahu’s address and that “she needs to be asked very searing questions” about her absence. 

The top-ranking House Republican lamented that several high-profile Democrats have declined the opportunity to preside over Netanyahu’s upcoming address, accusing the party of making “political calculations when our ally [Israel] is in such dire straits, fighting for its very survival and fighting back against the horrific attack in October.”

The White House announced that Harris would not attend Netanyahu’s speech, citing a prior commitment. Instead of presiding over the address, the vice president will attend a convention honoring the Zeta Phi Beta sorority in Indianapolis.

However, Harris will reportedly meet with Netanyahu at the White House this week. The vice president is expected to have a “frank” conversation with Netanyahu in which she will demand that Israel finish its ongoing war against the Islamist terrorist group Hamas in Gaza and improve conditions for Palestinians, according to Politico

The Jewish state has insisted that it will not stop its military operations until Hamas, which launched the war in Gaza with its Oct. 7 invasion of and massacre across southern Israel,  has been dismantled and the hostages kidnapped by the terrorist group during its onslaught are freed. Israeli officials have insisted that they have allowed a significant amount of humanitarian aid into Gaza during its military campaign. Last month, a UN panel of experts cast doubt on the notion that Hamas-ruled Gaza is suffering through a famine, despite many critics of Israel arguing the opposite.

US Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will preside over Netanyahu’s address in place of Harris. Notably, Cardin is retiring from the Senate, suggesting that the senator faces little political consequence from attending Netanyahu’s address at a time when progressives within the Democratic Party have become increasingly outspoken against the Jewish state.

US President Joe Biden will meet with Netanyahu on Thursday separate from the Israeli premier’s meeting with Harris. The two leaders were initially scheduled to meet on Tuesday, but Biden was still recovering from COVID-19. In a statement, Netanyahu said that he plans on thanking Biden for his assistance to Israel during his term in office. 

Netanyahu will reportedly also meet with former US President Donald Trump on Friday. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is the current favorite to win the White House in November. 

“Looking forward to welcoming Bibi Netanyahu at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “During my first term, we had Peace and Stability in the Region, even signing the historic Abraham Accords — And we will have it again.”

Republicans featured the issues of the Israel-Hamas war and surging antisemitism on college campuses during last week’s Republican National Convention. During his speech, Trump promised that he would resolve the war in Gaza upon his return to the Oval Office. The Republican nominee and former president chided Biden during their most recent debate for supposedly being too sympathetic to Palestinians. 

During Trump’s single term in office, he and Netanyahu enjoyed a productive working relationship. Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; cut aid to UNRWA, the controversial United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees; and helped facilitate the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel’s relations with several Arab countries. He also recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic region on Israel’s northern border previously controlled by Syria.

However, Trump and Netanyahu’s relationship soured after the Israeli prime minister congratulated Biden and Harris for winning the US 2020 presidential race, refusing to indulge the former president’s unsubstantiated assertions that the election was “stolen” from him. Trump also criticized Netanyahu and Israel’s intelligence agencies for not preventing the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on the Jewish state.

This week’s meeting could allow Netanyahu a chance to give his relationship with Trump a fresh reboot.

The post US House Speaker Mike Johnson Blasts Kamala Harris for Skipping Netanyahu Address first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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