TEL AVIV (JTA) — On Monday morning, Roxane Runel posted a photograph to Instagram of two Israel military officers addressing a crowd of reporters in an auditorium. Behind them is a giant television screen.
“Press conference between the international media and the Israeli army after it disseminated images and recordings of the Oct. 7 attacks,” Runel, a reporter for France’s M6 television channel, wrote across the photo, touting an upcoming broadcast. “Why? What is at stake?”
Runel, who has reported from several countries, has already interviewed relatives of Israeli hostages held in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, which killed and wounded thousands. Yet in the middle of Monday’s screening of the attack footage, she was one of a number of journalists who stepped out early.
“It was too much,” she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I knew coming here that the hardest thing for me would not be the images but the sound, because you can close your eyes if the images are too much.”
Runel was one of about 200 journalists who attended the screening, which the Israeli government billed as raw and unedited audio and video taken from Hamas terrorists’ body cameras and phones as they massacred communities on Israel’s border with Gaza. In addition to clips of Hamas attackers shooting people, the 43-minute compilation contained graphic images of children being murdered, bodies burned, civilians being mowed down and other atrocities.
Gruesome photos and videos have circulated online in the two weeks after the attack, along with harrowing accounts of the violence visited upon Israelis. The images have become so ubiquitous that Jewish day schools in the United States cautioned students to delete their social media apps to avoid seeing them, while journalists and other public figures have expressed ambivalence about sharing them.
The IDF has taken delegations of foreign journalists into some of the hardest-hit communities, with one spokesperson saying just days after the attack, “Walking through here is like Eisenhower walking through Bergen-Belsen and seeing the destruction and carnage. The world needs to witness this firsthand.”
Now, the Israeli government’s decision to broadcast the footage came as it is increasingly concerned that people are questioning the scale and depravity of Hamas’ massacre. Social media users and journalists alike have expressed skepticism about widespread reports and testimonies of the attack’s most harrowing details, often at the same time as they have sought to shift attention toward the escalating casualties of Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza, where it aims to depose Hamas.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this and I can’t believe that we as a country are having to do this,” said Eylon Levy, an Israeli government spokesman, in a video announcing the press conference. “As we work to defeat the terror organization that brutalized our people, we are witnessing a Holocaust denial-like phenomenon evolving in real time as people are casting doubt on the magnitude of the atrocities that Hamas committed against our people, and in fact recorded in order to glorify that violence.”
At the press conference, held at a military base north of Tel Aviv, chief IDF spokesperson Adm. Daniel Hagari said the military had “been thinking about this for a couple of days, whether to show it or not,” but decided that screening the footage served as a valuable reminder of the atrocities both for the international media covering the war and Israelis themselves.
“We will not let the world forget who we are fighting,” he said, adding that the footage helps Israelis “to understand ourselves what we are fighting for.”
In addition, IDF Maj. Gen. Mickey Edelstein told the reporters, the Israeli military has evidence it cannot show of sexual violence committed by the Hamas terrorists as well as evidence of links between Hamas and Iran.
He dispelled Hamas claims that terrorists unaffiliated with the group committed the atrocities, saying that the video shows proof that “the vast majority are Hamas” and that the perpetrators attacking civilians were dressed in full tactical gear. Written and other evidence the IDF has discovered, he added, shows that Hamas had planned “to bring hostages and keep families, in order that it would be much more painful.”
Many attendees gasped in horror at difficult elements of the footage, and some chose to exit the theater before the screening had finished. Runel said her personal “limit” was reached when listening to an audio clip of a call on WhatsApp between a Hamas terrorist and his parents, made via the stolen cellphone of an Israeli victim.
“He tells them on the phone — with a voice that is so ecstatic — he sounds like he’s out of his mind,” she said. “He was repeating the same thing over and over again, ‘I killed 10 of them.’ He was saying this as something he was really proud of and he wanted his parents to check the Whatsapp” to see videos he sent of the massacre. The man’s father reacted with praise, while his mother begged him to return home.
Amit Palit, a news anchor and correspondent for India TV based in New Delhi, said that after reporting on the attacks of Oct. 7 on live television, seeing the raw footage helped him understand the “bigger picture.” He said the screening “was necessary for many people who have some doubts.”
Palit, who has been covering the war in Israel for the past 12 days, was most affected by a video of two young brothers after they lost their father, who was murdered in front of them with an explosive while the three were hiding together in a bomb shelter at home. The footage was among the “very painful” clips he witnessed, he said.
“He was asking, ‘Dad,’ and the teenager said, ‘Why am I alive?’” Palit recounted. “A 13-year-old boy cursing himself, asking why he was alive, asking his brother ‘Can you see?’ And he couldn’t see because he lost [one of] his eyes” from the shrapnel of the blast that killed his father.”
Some journalists expressed skepticism about the screening, saying that authentic footage compiled by the Israeli army could come with its own agenda. Nicolas Coadou, a reporter for BFN TV in France, said the footage “is edited, they choose what they want to show us.”
But he acknowledged that reporting on the press conference would be challenging.
“I have a live [broadcast] in one hour,” he said. “And I don’t know what I am going to say.”
The post Fearing denial and disinformation, Israel shows journalists raw footage of Hamas attacks appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Left-wing Jews usher in Hanukkah in NY with rally demanding a ceasefire and mourning Gaza casualties
(New York Jewish Week) – Hundreds marched around Columbus Circle in the biting cold on Thursday night, holding electric candles and signs calling for a ceasefire, as they sang a biblical verse calling for the end of war as a tuba and a drum played along.
The activists then raised a 9-foot tall menorah emblazoned with the word “ceasefire” in multi-colored lights, each letter adorning one of the nine candle stems, ushering in the Hanukkah holiday with pleas for a halt to the Israel-Hamas war.
“We light our Hanukkah candles in public, we put them in our windows and in our town square to proudly display our Jewish heritage and to call upon the miracles of this time of year,” Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari of the Philadelphia synagogue Kol Tzedek told the crowd. “We are each here to kindle the lights of Hanukkah and to call, together, for a ceasefire.”
The event on the first night of Hanukkah also took place exactly two months after Hamas began the war with an invasion of Israel that killed 1,200, largely civilians, and took more than 240 hostages. In the period since then, some of the groups organizing Thursday’s menorah lighting have led frequent rallies in New York City, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere calling for an immediate ceasefire — blocking entrances to buildings and bridges and sometimes ending in dozens of arrests.
Their advocacy, so far, hasn’t met its goal. Israel rejects ceasefire calls because they would leave Hamas in power in Gaza, and Hamas has continued to rain rockets on Israel and hold more than 130 hostages. The United States has backed Israel’s military campaign.
Israel recently began focusing its firepower on the Gaza city of Khan Younis, where Hamas’ leadership is believed to be based. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, more than 17,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting — a number that does not differentiate between civilians and combatants or denote deaths from misfired Palestinian rockets.
And while only 37% of New Yorkers approve of Israel’s war effort, according to a recent poll, the Jewish ceasefire activists have the support of only a minority of their own community: 72% of Jewish New Yorkers support Israel’s war effort, while only 19% disapprove.
”I think people are spiritually depleted and morally depleted and it’s really painful to open the news every day and see what’s happening on the ground in Gaza,” said Rabbi Alisa Wise, the lead organizer of the recently-founded Rabbis for Ceasefire. That group was one of the organizers of the event along with IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and a new group called Shoresh. Many of those groups have called for a ceasefire since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and have focused their criticism on Israel, accusing it of “genocide.”
Wise said many on the Jewish left are “exhausted and depressed” by the war and find protest activities draining, but also feel the urge to make their voices heard. She added that there is also “this sense of determination, and now that we’ve seen what we’re capable of and what we can do it really feels like people are going to not stop pushing.”
At the entrance to the gathering, three towering banners bore the words “ceasefire,” “justice” and “peace” in Hebrew, English and Arabic, near tattered posters of Israeli hostages on lamp poles. Some in the crowd wore keffiyehs and several carried Palestinian flags. Alongside the Jewish public figures who attended the event — among them the commentator Peter Beinart and actor Wallace Shawn — one of the speakers was Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour.
Organizers said 700 people attended the rally. In between the speeches, the crowd chanted the blessings upon lighting the menorah and sang songs calling for peace.
In Israel and elsewhere, supporters of the country’s war in Gaza have pointed to the story of Hanukkah — a small Jewish army defeating a foe that sought to destroy it — as a historical parallel to the current conflict. On Thursday, a rabbi in a suburb of New York City wrote on Facebook that taking the holiday as an opportunity to call for a ceasefire is “absolutely ridiculous, since Chanukah is literally a celebration of a military victory against an enemy that wanted to wipe out Judaism in Israel. Sound familiar?!”
Wise told the New York Jewish Week that the holiday presents an opportunity to fortify the Jewish left — and said that her group focuses on the way the rabbis of the Talmud approached the holiday. A passage in the Talmud describing Hanukkah includes only a passing reference to the military victory and instead stresses the miracle of one day’s worth of oil lighting a menorah for eight days.
“We were thinking about the way the rabbis really deemphasized the militarism and emphasized the miracle,” Wise said. “Those rabbis were leading us away from the militarism. They brought the story of [the] miracle, and we’re thinking about that.”
Like Jews across the United States, Wise’s group has adapted the holiday’s messages and rituals to the current moment. The group issued a guide for the holiday with different kavanot, or intentions, for each night’s candle lighting, including focusing on themes such as courage, healing and peace, and has sought to lean into the holiday’s themes of miracles and spreading light.
“Every year we return to this holiday and we have the opportunity to figure out this year, what from the tradition do we need, what thread do we need to pull?” she said. “So that’s how we’re approaching it this year.”
The war has also sparked a surge in antisemitism in New York and elsewhere in the U.S., according to law enforcement and Jewish security groups, and rising hate crimes have heightened tensions and fears surrounding the conflict. Speakers at the rally decried the increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia, which has also increased, although to a much lesser extent.
“This is a holiday that’s about light in the darkness. Even in the darkest, coldest time of year we bring this light in,” Wise said. “As we light, we bring the possibility of the ceasefire movement growing and a possibility of peace and justice closer.”
‘She’s Dead!’ Brutal Antisemitic Assault Leaving Woman Unconscious Reported in London
A Jewish woman was brutally assaulted in London this week by two suspects who pummeled her with punches and kicks for over a minute, according to footage posted on social media by Shomrim of Stamford Hill, a Jewish organization that reports on antisemitism.
The attack, which occurred on Thursday evening in the Stamford Hill neighborhood, left the woman unconscious and only ended after two female suspects reportedly said that the woman was “dead” after kicking her while she was on the ground for over thirty seconds, according to Shomrim, which also serves as a neighborhood watch group.
See dramatic footage of the horrendous #Racist vicious assault leaving the female victim unconscious!
The brutal attack ended after the two female offenders kept on kicking the unconscious victim in the head before laughing over her body… pic.twitter.com/FLxC3re1As
— Shomrim (Stamford Hill) (@Shomrim) December 8, 2023
Metropolitan Police are currently searching for the female suspects. No arrests have been made.
Information on the condition of the victim was not immediately available.
The Stamford Hill section of London is no stranger to antisemitic incidents. In October, days after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, two Jewish primary schools in the area were vandalized and doused with red paint.
The post ‘She’s Dead!’ Brutal Antisemitic Assault Leaving Woman Unconscious Reported in London first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Menorahs in Brooklyn Stolen and Vandalized, NYPD Investigating as Hate Crime
Multiple public menorahs in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York were stolen and vandalized, according to a spokesman for the Chabad Jewish movement.
The stolen menorah was seen on Sunset Park Center lawn on Wednesday evening, according to Yaacov Behrman, a spokesperson for Chabad. On Thursday, it was found broken.
In a separate incident captured on video, a man is seen riding up to a menorah in Sunset Park on a bicycle and pushing it over.
“The holiday hasn’t begun, and the vandalism has already started,” Behrman said on X/Twitter.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is investigating the incidents as hate crimes.
The post Menorahs in Brooklyn Stolen and Vandalized, NYPD Investigating as Hate Crime first appeared on Algemeiner.com.