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Israelis Wear Dog Tags in Solidarity With Hostages and Each Other

Military-style dog tags calling for the return of Israeli hostages who have been held in the Gaza Strip since they were seized by Hamas gunmen on October 7, are displayed at a stall in Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, January 11, 2024. The Hebrew reads “Our hearts are held hostage in Gaza”. REUTERS/Dedi Hayun

On Israeli city streets and on television, in shops and in cafes, one symbol of solidarity with hostages held in Gaza has become ubiquitous in the 100 days since Hamas abducted them: military-style dog tags worn on neckchains.

The small metal rectangles, similar to those soldiers carry for identification, are typically inscribed with two slogans in Hebrew, “our hearts are held hostage in Gaza” and “together we will win,” and one in English, “bring them home now.”

“Everyone wants to show their support one way or another,” said Shayna Roth, 36, a digital marketing specialist and mother of three from Modi’in, near Tel Aviv.

“It just makes you feel that no matter where you go, no matter who you meet or talk to, we’re all a nation, undivided.”

Hamas killed 1,200 people during its assault on southern Israel on Oct. 7, the worst loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust and the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year history.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with a military offensive of air strikes and ground operations against the Palestinian terror group in Gaza.

Of the 240 hostages who were kidnapped on Oct. 7, more than 130 are still held captive in Gaza. Their plight, and the anguish of their families, are deeply felt across Israeli society.

Wearing these dog tags really allows us to connect to the families that have been directly affected,” said Roth, who also has pictures of hostages by her Shabbat candles, which in Jewish tradition are lit on Friday evenings to usher in the Sabbath.


Roth’s mother, Marilee Crowell, was visiting from California and was wearing a dog tag as the two women visited the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Nestled among the food stalls and bakeries in the warren of alleyways, a souvenir shop had several displays of dog tags. It was here that Roth had bought a batch of them to send to her mother and other relatives living in the United States.

Crowell, 78, said she was wearing hers to show her deep empathy with the hostages, their families, and Israelis in general, following the Oct. 7 killings.

“I stand with you in your suffering and yes, we want the hostages back, yes, it’s beyond words. I stand with you, I hold your hand in your grief. That’s what it means to me,” she said. Her daughter had tears in her eyes as she listened.

A steady stream of customers stopped at the souvenir shop and bought dog tags. Among them, Judith, who did not wish to give her family name, bought several, including an unusual model with a religious blessing on it, “God bless you and keep you.”

“Everybody is hurting. Everybody knows somebody who is a soldier, or knows somebody who lives in (the southern) area, so everybody’s involved, it’s one big family. So it’s just showing that we care, that we’re standing together,” she said.

Steven Winston, a visitor from Britain where he runs a pro-Israel group called the National Jewish Assembly, was wearing a dog tag he had bought at “Hostages Square,” in Tel Aviv, where hostages‘ families and supporters have been campaigning.

Winston gave similar reasons for wearing the symbol, adding that he would not hesitate to wear it in London, where police reported a historic surge in antisemitic hate crimes after Oct. 7.

“If someone tried to take it off me, then let them try, but I’m not going to shy away from my identity and my feelings. I’m proud to wear it,” said Winston.

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Media Outlets Use Daring Israeli Rescue of Hostages to Shield Hamas, Attack Israel

Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Hare, two Israeli hostages who, according to the Israeli military, were freed in a special forces operation in Rafah, Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, reunite with loved ones at the Sheba Medical Center, in Ramat Gan, Israel, February 12, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

Early on Monday, February 12, news outlets reported that Israel had rescued two hostages from Hamas captivity in Gaza.

But instead of sticking to the facts of the daring overnight raid in Rafah — which happen to justify Israel’s claim that the southern Gaza city is a Hamas stronghold — prominent news sites framed the story in a way that minimized the terror group’s role and presented Palestinians as the victims.

The result inverted reality: Positive news was portrayed as negative and good became evil.

Such framing, which subtly cast doubt on the worthiness of the Israeli rescue operation, was achieved by using one or more of the following tactics:

Selectively using the word ‘”freed” instead of “rescued.”
Uncritically emphasizing the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes during the raid.
Adding lengthy paragraphs focusing on the plight of 1.4 million displaced Gazans in Rafah, and their fear of a potentially imminent Israeli invasion.
Ignoring Hamas altogether.

The Guardian, for example, packaged the first two points in a headline that reads: “Two Israeli hostages freed in Rafah, says IDF, as Palestinians report dozens of deaths.”

Who freed the hostages? Hamas? Islamic Jihad? An invisible force? Unclear.

Using the word “freed” rather than the value-laden “rescued” muddies the dramatic nature of the Israeli operation and whitewashes Hamas. That’s because it blurs the lines between the two sides and can also be mistakenly attributed to the terror group, as seen above.

But what’s worse is the added framing of Palestinian casualties — some of whom are undoubtedly terrorists killed in the raid.

And it’s not just in the headline.

The first paragraph of the story leads with the Palestinian death toll, according to “Gaza health officials,” who don’t differentiate between terrorists and civilians:

At least 50 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on the southern city of Rafah, according to Gaza health officials, as the Israeli military said it had freed two hostages during a raid by special forces on the city.

The rest of the story — except for 2.5 paragraphs dedicated to the Israeli hostages — includes 18.5 paragraphs on the suffering of displaced Palestinians in the area, amid global warnings against a looming Israeli invasion of Rafah.

It is not clear why such background paragraphs don’t include any information on Hamas’ entrenchment amid or under the civilian population of the city, particularly in light of the fact that Israeli hostages had been held in an apartment building there.

The Guardian’s story was partly based on a Reuters report, which also used “freed” in its headline and framed the Israeli operation with unverified casualty numbers that serve the Palestinian narrative:

We’ve fixed your headline, @Reuters. The hostages were rescued, not “freed.”

But who are the “67 killed”? Israeli soldiers killed many terrorists and came under heavy fire during the rescue operation.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 12, 2024

Unlike Reuters, the Associated Press and the BBC did use the verb “rescue.”

But they framed their headlines similarly:

And the live coverage page of the BBC still led with the lethal Israeli strikes:

Voice Of America (VOA) went further and did not even mention the Israeli rescue operation in its headline about the Rafah strikes:

It’s been some 9 hours since it was publicly announced that Israel had rescued two hostages from Rafah.

But the headline and story below are still the lead on the @VOANews website.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 12, 2024

VOA’s story starts with what seems to be random Israeli air strikes that killed tens of Palestinians sheltering in Rafah. Again, no context is provided, nor is there any critical caveat about the problematic source for Gaza’s casualty figures:

Israeli airstrikes Monday hit the southern city of Rafah, killing at least 67 people according to local health officials in the area of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million civilians have already fled to in order to escape the war.

Residents described heavy bombing, with the Israeli strikes hitting several houses and mosques.

It’s not until the third paragraph that VOA mentions the Israeli rescue operation, although it is almost glossed over as a mere coincidence:

“…the strikes coincided with a mission that rescued two Israeli hostages who were being held by Hamas militants.

NBC News also made the Israeli airstrikes look like an indiscriminate bombing of Rafah, unrelated to the fact that Hamas had been holding the Israeli hostages there:

Some media outlets didn’t just change words or add context.

National Public Radio, for example, completely omitted Hamas from its story about the Israeli rescue operation.

It did not mention Hamas even once, as if the Israeli forces had been fighting an unidentified enemy:

The Israeli military said on Monday that special forces rescued two Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Heavy airstrikes were conducted during the operation and there were initial reports that Palestinians were killed in the strikes.

Disturbingly, NPR relied on a military report that clearly identified Hamas as the group that kidnapped the hostages on October 7, while its terrorists killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and abducted some 240 others.

Why did NPR ignore that?

Whatever the reason, the result is the whitewashing of the murderers responsible for taking the hostages in the first place.

Indeed, it’s possible to sum up by repeating the cliche that framing is everything.

But it shouldn’t be.

Journalists should avoid it and simply report the facts accurately.

They should also be aware of the ramifications of their words, especially when these words are used to minimize evil — the evil of a terror group that holds hostages while using innocent civilians as a human shield.

And when journalists fail to do so, news consumers deserve to know that they are being misled.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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78 Percent of US Jews Feel ‘Less Safe’ in Wake of Hamas Pogrom, New Survey Finds

Pro-Hamas demonstrators are detained by police officers in New York during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

A huge majority of American Jews feel “less safe” in the United States in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in Israel, the worst outburst of antisemitic violence since the Holocaust.

A new survey released on Tuesday by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that 78 percent of respondents felt more insecure following the pogrom executed by Hamas terrorists, in which more than 1,200 people were murdered and over 200 taken hostage amid atrocities that included mass rape and mutilation of victims.

The survey — conducted for the AJC’s “2023 State of Antisemitism Report” — also revealed that 63 percent of American Jews believe that their overall status in the US is “less safe,” compared with 41 percent in 2022 and 31 percent in 2021. The AJC has been carrying out the annual survey since 2019.

Some incidents impacted people mourning friends or relatives who lost their lives during the Hamas atrocities. “I was at an outdoor vigil mourning the murdered Israelis and three separate times, people drove past yelling out their car window ‘Kill them all’ among other things,” one respondent recalled.

“The release of the data, from surveys done in the fall of 2023, comes four months after the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7 … at a time when the global Jewish community is experiencing a dramatic surge in antisemitism,” the AJC observed in an accompanying statement.

Fear of antisemitism led 46 percent of the US Jews surveyed to change their behavior, the report noted.

“With nearly half of American Jews reporting they changed their behavior in the past year because of fear of antisemitism, we need to take action – now,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch. “AJC’s report also found that over the last year, 4 in 10 Jewish college students have felt the consequences of antisemitism, with one-in five saying they have been excluded from a group or event because they are Jewish. This should alarm everyone especially with the dramatic increase of antisemitic activity on college campuses that has continued into 2024.”

At the same time, awareness of the problem of antisemitism has increased significantly among non-Jews, the survey discovered. Nearly three quarters of US adults surveyed acknowledged that hatred and hostility to Jews “is a problem” while 92 percent expressed agreement with the statement, “Everyone is responsible for combating antisemitism.”

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Swiss Police Investigating Davos Ski Shop and Restaurant Over Ban on Jews

A Hebrew sign at the Pischa Restaurant in the Sweiss resort of Davos informing Jewish guests that they are banned from renting ski equipment. Photo: Screenshot

A restaurant and ski equipment hire outlet in the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos is in the spotlight after it posted a sign informing “our Jewish brothers” that they are no longer permitted to rent sledges, skis and other mountain sports gear as a consequence of “various very annoying incidents.”

A sign in Hebrew at the Pischa Restaurant in Davos stated that “due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This affects all sports equipment such as sledges, airboards, skis and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”

The offending sign was photographed, translated and posted on Twitter/X by Jehuda Spielman, a member of the liberal Free Democratic Party who serves as a municipal councillor in Zurich.

A statement from the local police announced that they had already launched an investigation into the scandal. A police spokesperson told the SDA news agency that a formal complaint was not necessary for an investigation, as “suspicion of discrimination and a call to hatred” was sufficient for officers to begin their inquiries.

Jonathan Kreutner — the secretary-general of the Swiss Israelite Association (SIG) — told the Tages Anzeiger news outlet that the sign was “shocking and clearly discriminatory.”

Kreutner, who is himself currently on vacation in Davos, which attracts large numbers of Orthodox Jewish and Israeli tourists, added: “I understand why certain people no longer feel welcome in Davos.”

The Pischa Restaurant pushed back against the criticism, issuing a statement in Sunday complaining that Jewish guests allegedly did not respect its house rules.

“There are Jewish guests who wanted to rent sledges in street shoes, but would then leave them on the slopes and alert the emergency services even though they were not injured,” the statement claimed. It also complained that Jewish guests were bringing their own food onto the restaurant’s property, accusing them of “populating the best places on the terrace or in the restaurant with picnics.”

Meanwhile, an Israeli tourist on vacation in Davos told the Israeli news outlet Ynet that he had attempted to rent equipment from Pischa on Sunday and had been refused service.

“I pretended not to understand Hebrew and asked if we could rent the equipment. After the woman consulted with the manager, she rejected our request,” the 21-year-old man said.

Tension between businesses in Davos and Jewish guests has been rising in recent months. Last summer, the head of the local tourism office, Reto Branschi, said that littering, poor driving and trespassing on private grounds had caused the resentment of “locals, hosts and other guests.”

However, Branschi criticized the Pischa Restaurant’s announcement for focusing specifically on Jewish guests. “We distance ourselves from this notice,” he told the Tages Anzeiger on Sunday.

In 2017, a similar scandal erupted in the Swiss mountain resort of Arosa after a hotel owner posted signs instructing Jewish guests to shower before they used the swimming pool and to be sparing in their use of the hotel’s refrigerators to store kosher food.

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