TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israeli health, military and government officials have been preparing for what a release of hostages from Gaza would look like since Oct. 7. But on Friday, as the first round of hostages were released at the start of a ceasefire brokered with Hamas, some admitted just how difficult that preparation has been.
“We had to write these guidelines without any theoretical or practical knowledge in the world of a situation where children are being held captive by a terrorist organization,” said Sarit Sarfatti, a government official who works with child protection social workers at a briefing for journalists.
Many of the hostages have experienced severe trauma, including witnessing the murder of family members. They were shuttled Friday evening Israel time from Gaza into Egypt, and from there were expected to be moved to several designated hospitals throughout Israel.
There, they will be received by teams that include pediatricians, gynecologists, forensic medicine experts and legal medicine specialists, focusing on the specific needs of women and children. No adult men were expected to be released on Friday.
In parallel, the Israel’s welfare ministry has selected 60 social workers with expertise in child trauma and at least one social worker will also be designated to each family.
Sarfatti described a three-phase care plan for the hostages. Initially, the focus is on their return to Israel. The second phase involves acute care, at least a month-long, tailored to each individual’s specific medical and psychological needs. The final stage, which could extend over a year or “much, much longer,” she said, focuses on long-term care, factoring in personal circumstances, such as the murder of family members.
“We do have a lot of therapeutic models that deal with trauma intervention,” she said. “We have a lot of faith and hope for their healing.”
Dr. Hagai Levine, who is also involved in the process, said the situation will differ from hostage to hostage. “For one it’s a hug from his mother, for another it might be urgent heart repair.”
The Israel Defense Forces showed reporters a range of items that will be distributed to the returned hostages, from neon-colored slinkies to noise-canceling headphones. Levine explained that simple items like a pair of shoes or glasses could make a significant difference in improving the condition of the hostages.
“They were dehumanized, treated as mere objects by Hamas,” he said, noting that many of them were barefoot when they were abducted.
Levine also said he had met with hostages who had previously been released, including Yocheved Lifshitz. She “complained about the light,” he said, adding that it could “take a long time to get used to again,” and comparing the experience to being a newborn.
Overall, Lifshitz has demonstrated “an impressive resilience and ability to recover,” he said, but was quick to add that he “would not make a medical judgment” about her current welfare, especially given that her husband is still being held in Gaza.
Forensic examinations to determine if the hostages — especially the younger ones, who may not be able to communicate their experiences — went through torture, sexual violence or other forms of abuse may yield inconclusive results, Levine said, as too much time has elapsed since the events would have occurred. “We may never know,” he admitted.
According to Sarfatti, after a month of close care in the hostage facilities at the hospitals, medical professionals will evaluate whether they can be released back into the community. The social workers assigned to their case will continue guiding the rehabilitation process, which will include therapeutic, medical and educational needs.
“Some of them don’t know that their community has been almost entirely annihilated, and we will have to break the news to them very soon,” she said. “This is something that cannot be delayed.”
The post Hugs, slinkies and trauma care: How the Israeli health system will treat the released hostages appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
George Washington University to Discipline Anti-Zionist Group for Violating Suspension
George Washington University (GW) in Washington DC has leveled additional disciplinary sanctions against members of the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter following their repeated violations of the group’s suspension and other rules, the GW Hatchet reported on Monday.
According to the paper, after being suspended, SJP assembled a front group called “Student Coalition for Palestine” and held an unauthorized protest in Nov. at Kogan Plaza, an outdoor space frequently used by the campus community for outdoor events.
Student Coalition for Palestine held two more unauthorized demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday and declined to speak on record to GW Hatchet, citing concerns about being “doxxed.” On both days, they brandished signs that said, “Divest from Zionist genocide” and “From the river to the sea,” a chant widely interpreted as calling for a genocide of Jews in Israel.
They also chanted, “Israel bombs, GW pays, how many kids did you kill today?” and “Granberg, Granberg, you’re a coward, we the students have the power,” referencing GW President Ellen M. Granberg, who is a Jewish woman.
In November, George Washington University became the third private university in the United States to suspend its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter after the group projected pro-Hamas messages on a university library.
The suspension reportedly included two phases, first a 90-day period in which SJP was banned from sponsoring and holding events on campus, and a second, beginning on Feb. 12, 2024 and lasting for the remainder of the academic year, in which the university continues to “restrict” its activities.
Now facing new charges of community disturbance, disorderly conduct, and noncompliance for violating the suspension, an SJP member told the GW Hatchet, which has taken the group’s lead in describing Student Coalition for Palestine as non-affiliated with SJP, that the university is being “hateful” and fascistic.
“They refuse to acknowledge that it has to do with our solidarity,” the student alleged. “They refuse to acknowledge their fascism.”
The student also threatened that continued efforts to hold SJP accountable for violating school rules will “only make us louder.”
GW SJP in Palestine has been battling the school’s administration to push the boundaries of its campus activities since Hamas’ terror invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, an attack that resulted in over 1,200 deaths of mostly civilians and included numerous rapes and torture.
Five days after the attack, President Ellen Granberg censured in strong terms any support on campus for the war crimes Hamas committed, acts that SJP had cheered during numerous demonstrations.
“I not only condemn terrorism, but I also abhor the celebration of terrorism and attempts to perpetuate rhetoric or imagery that glorifies acts of violence,” Granberg wrote in an open letter. “Such messages do not speak on behalf of me, our administrators, or GW.” Granberg also expressed concern for all affected by the week’s events in the Middle East, calling on the campus community to “reach out to a friend, colleague, or classmate and show your support.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post George Washington University to Discipline Anti-Zionist Group for Violating Suspension first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
ADL Urges Chicago Cops to Apprehend Culprits Behind Antisemitic Flyer Campaign
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called on the Chicago Police Department to step up efforts to apprehend the culprits behind a series of antisemitic flyers distributed in the the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, which is home to a large Jewish population.
“For the 4th time in over 5 weeks, residents of Chicago‘s Lincoln Park neighborhood woke up today to antisemitic & white supremacist flyers on their cars,” the Jewish civil rights organization’s office for the Midwest stated in a post on X/Twitter. “We spoke with Chicago police & urged them to do what’s necessary to find & hold accountable those responsible for these hateful acts.”
At least 50 vehicles parked in Lincoln Park were targeted with flyers bearing handwritten messages attacking Jews and their alleged influence. “I saw on my dashboard a piece of paper with an antisemitic, very antisemitic markings on it that said that Jews own the media, the Jews started COVID,” local resident Aaron Snyder told ABC News. Local media outlets blurred the text written on the flyers in their reports of the latest incident.
At a community neighborhood meeting on Tuesday night, attendees voiced a mix of fear and anger over the repeated incidents. Similar flyers were discovered in Lincoln Park last week.
“Clearly, this is targeted antisemitic hate material, and the fact that it’s being placed intentionally in residential neighborhoods where Jewish families live, it seems designed to sow fear and unrest in the hearts of our Jewish residents,” Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins told local media outlets.
While no-one has yet been identified as responsible for distributing the flyers, Hopkins said that he believed “it’s the same group that’s responsible for it. It’s clearly more than one person because there’s a significant number of these that are deployed at the same time.”
The so-called “Goyim Defense League (GDL)”, a US neo-Nazi organization, has orchestrated a similar campaign over the last two years in Florida, North Carolina, California and several other states, distributing printing flyers blaming Jews collectively for the COVID pandemic and other social ills. It remains unclear whether the GDL is behind the current harassment of Jews in Chicago.
The post ADL Urges Chicago Cops to Apprehend Culprits Behind Antisemitic Flyer Campaign first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Meet the Indigenous People Who Support Israel
During pro-Palestinian marches in the Western world, we have seen several minority groups, including “indigenous” people, who identify with the Palestinians and their claim to be the displaced natives in Israel.
But there are other indigenous people who view things differently.
The Indigenous Coalition For Israel (ICFI) is one organization that aims to change the narrative, consisting of individuals from the Americas, Australia, Asia, and Africa. The ICFI has just launched an office that will be housed within the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem.
Ryan Bellerose, a native Canadian of the Metis mixed-race community, told me that “the false narrative concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict has easily taken hold amongst many indigenous peoples.”
He feels that many have misunderstood what the term “indigeneity” means. He spoke about how the Jewish people’s ethnogenesis took place in the Levant, just like the Native Americans’ took root in the Americas. He noted that even if Jews lived in the Diaspora at times, their cultural identity “evolved” in the Middle East.
Some on the Palestinian side claim that they have Canaanite roots. Bellerose argued that the Palestinians are “not doing much” to actively preserve or upkeep this Canaanite culture despite the claim.
Bellerose feels that indigenous Americans are still feeling the “residual effects” of a genocide, and can therefore learn a lot from the Israeli example, where Jewish society was “rebuilt” after the Holocaust.
He also cited Israel’s Hebrew revival as a good example of decolonization, and hopes that other groups that have lost their native languages, such as his ancestral Cree, will be able to revive theirs as well.
New Zealand Māoris
Dr. Sheree Trotter is a New Zealand Māori. She said that while some Māori Iwi (clans), including the biggest one, Ngapuhi, issued statements supporting Israel, there is no uniform view across the group.
She noted that there are still many Māori who are pro-Palestinian, among the indigenous minority who are 16.5% of New Zealand.
Trotter said that many Māori became Christianized in recent times, and therefore connect with the story of Israelites. She blamed international forces, such as the Soviet propaganda of the 1960s, for causing many Māori to shift towards identifying with the Palestinian narrative.
Olga Washington is a member of the Tswana ethnic group in South Africa, a country that has taken an outsized pro-Palestinian stance in recent years. However, she insists that “the majority of South Africans don’t have such beliefs, even if the ‘loudest voices’ are anti-Israel.”
Washington noted how Israel supported the apartheid regime in South Africa (1948-94), but that continuing to blame Israel for abetting this exhibits “a double standard” since “many other countries” also supported apartheid South Africa, including the US, UK, and Japan.
She insisted that allegations of Israeli apartheid are “not true” — having witnessed apartheid firsthand in South Africa, where the term originated.
She said that during the Cold War era, the Soviets, Cuba, and other forces allied with the now-ruling African National Congress (ANC) party were anti-Zionist, and this legacy has remained. The ANC has been in power since 1994.
She noted how South Africa chose not to support their Miss Universe candidate when the competition was held in Israel in 2021.
“But we still do have diplomatic relations with Israel,” she noted.
“Jews are indigenous to the land and the Palestinian claim is a very self-harming approach as it rejects Jewish indigeneity,” she said. And indigenous people around the world who know the true history of Israel likely agree with her.
Avi Kumar is a Holocaust historian/journalist from Sri Lanka. He has lived in many countries and speaks 11 languages. He has written about a variety of topics in publications worldwide.