I had a harrowing experience visiting southern Israel, and the site of the Nova music festival, where nearly 400 people were killed and approximately 40 were kidnapped by Hamas. It’s an empty field, with nothing around, bordered by tiny villages and trees. A one lane road approaches the empty barren field. One can imagine the terror these revelers felt at 6:30 AM, with terrorists arriving and machine gun fire all over. The bomb shelters remain — but they weren’t built to withstand terrorists entering them and shooting.
The site has become a place to visit in Israel; Israelis flock to the site to remember, as do IDF groups, families, and media. In time, this site will be a memorial like Babi Yar, or other places where Jews were slaughtered in history.
Standing at Nova, one hears the sounds of war — loud explosions are heard and planes fly overhead, as we are very close to the Gaza border. The only difference between now and the past massacre of Jews, is that now we have a state, we have an army, and there is a price to be paid for shedding Jewish blood.
All over the site, there are memorials and tributes to those slaughtered,
“Even if we won’t meet again in life, all the time you are with us in our hearts,” one sign reads. Another says, “Be sure to keep your light bright and shining.”
These were people who just wanted to celebrate life with their friends, enjoy listening to music, and to love one another — and they were slaughtered for the crime of being Jewish.
There was a family member crying at Nova, a young woman, the sister of someone who was killed at Nova. She had come to the site to “visit” her sister.
At the site, Rami Davidian — a hero of Nova who saved countless lives that day — told me his story. He showed me where bodies were mutilated, where women were tied to trees, and where the lucky ones escaped from. And from heroes like Rami, we also remember Jewish strength and resiliency amid horrific times.
Standing at the Nova festival, seeing the barren field where only a few months ago hundreds were killed, it’s very clear that the only possible answer today in February 2024 is the complete destruction of Hamas. During the Holocaust, the Nazis were roundly defeated and eliminated, and so too today, there is no other option but to completely defeat a regime that wants to kill every Jew that it can.
Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur and philanthropist.
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Amid the Gaza War, Israeli Athletes Face Discrimination, But Triumph Overseas
Since October 7, sports have been put on the backburner in Israel. But as Israel fights to defeat Hamas in Gaza, some of the country’s athletes are returning to competition, especially as qualification tournaments get underway for the Paris Olympics. In 2021, Israel had its best ever Olympic Games, winning a record four medals — two of which were gold — in Tokyo.
In recent days, the 2024 Israeli team has grown, with IQFoilers (windsurfers) Sharon Kantor and Tom Reuveney securing their Olympics spots at the recent World Championships; Kantor won the women’s event, and Reuveney finished eighth. This is a very special event in Israel’s sporting history, as three of its 13 Olympic medals (including its first ever gold) came in this event.
Elsewhere, the Israeli swimming team is currently in Qatar at the World Championships. The highlight, thus far, was Anastasia Gorbenko’s fourth place in the 200m Individual Medley. At this stage, Israel has qualified swimmers in nine different events at Paris, as well as the team-based artistic swimming duet.
In 2024, Israel will send its first soccer team to the Olympics since 1976. Time will tell if Israeli athletes will qualify in sports such as archery, skateboarding, climbing, surfing, and fencing.
Israel hasn’t sent a fencer to the Olympics since 2008, but that could change after Yuval Freilich won gold at the Epee Grand Prix event in Qatar. What a surreal thrill to hear Hatikvah played in Qatar during these times.
The current situation in Israel has caused turmoil for many of our athletes overseas. There was quite a ruckus about our women’s basketball team playing against Ireland, where the Irish team refused to shake hands with their Jewish competitors.
Israel’s U20 ice hockey team was told they wouldn’t be able to take their place in the Division III Group A World Championships in Bulgaria due to security concerns. After a backlash, this was reversed, and the Israeli team went undefeated to win promotion to Division II Group B.
In tennis, Mika Buchnik made it to the second round of the girl’s singles at the Australian Open, while Guy Sasson lost in the final of both the quad singles and doubles. The Davis Cup team lost a tricky tie to the Czech Republic, and in September, the Israeli team hosts Ukraine in a bid to stay in World Group I.
Our combat athletes in Judo, Taekwondo, and MMA continue to shine, with Olympic spots on the line for those in judo and taekwondo.
And while the Summer Olympics get all the attention, Israel is also making great strides in winter sports. Figure skater Sophia Shifrin did a fantastic job at the Winter Youth Olympics in South Korea, finishing 12th in the Women’s singles.
At the start of the year, Israel-Premier Tech cyclist Stephen Williams won the Tour Down Under, while the team was in second place, just four seconds behind the top spot.
Despite all that is going on in the world, our athletes put their emotions to the side and compete at the highest level. We couldn’t be prouder of them.
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The Guardian Publishes Claim That Terror-Loving Palestinian-American Woman Was ‘Kidnapped’ By IDF
“The IDF kidnapped my mother.”
That is the absurd claim from Ibrahim Hamed, a US-based man whose Palestinian mother was recently arrested in Israel.
Even more absurd, however, is the fact that The Guardian (and others) printed the allegation without doing even a modicum of journalistic due diligence — due diligence that would have shown precisely why she was arrested.
According to The Guardian, Hamed wants US President Joe Biden to intervene after Samaher Esmail, who is a US citizen, was taken into custody from a home in the West Bank town of Silwad, where she lives part-time.
Referencing the IDF’s statement that Esmail had been arrested for “incitement on social media,” the outlet detailed Hamed’s unsubstantiated claim that his mother was beaten, handcuffed, and blindfolded, as well as his assertion that she was arrested merely for being “critical of Israel’s West Bank occupation” on social media:
He said he feared comments which she posted on social media that were critical of Israel’s West Bank occupation may have brought her unwanted attention from the IDF. But he said it was ‘bogus’ for Esmail to be arrested for them.
However, a quick search of Esmail’s Facebook profile reveals the posts that most likely led to her arrest were those in which she praised the October 7 Hamas massacre, posted photos holding an automatic weapon, and glorified infamous Hamas terrorists who have murdered hundreds of innocent civilians.
Indeed, had The Guardian journalist who wrote the piece, Ramon Antonio Vargas, actually bothered to look at Esmail’s social media profile — something that took less than 20 seconds for HonestReporting to find — he would have found it awash with disturbing messages and imagery.
For example, on the day that Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern Israeli communities, killing and raping scores of civilians, Esmail wrote numerous comments online praising the terrorists responsible and calling for more violence.
Dear @guardian, we think you’ll find that the IDF arrested, not “kidnapped” his mother.
It took us 15 seconds of online research to find just this one social media post below, which could reasonably illustrate why.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 8, 2024
In one post, Esmail, who describes herself as an educator within Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public School System, included footage of Hamas terrorists kidnapping an Israeli grandmother and asked for God to “bless” them, adding: “Don’t play with your tails, this day will be witnessed in the history, remember it very well 07/10/2023.”
In another October 7 post, she wrote: “7/10/2023, date of a rich history, we do not know when it will be repeated, whether it will happen in our time, or the time of our children, or the time of our grandchildren. But the victory is coming no doubt with God’s will. Victory or martyrdom. We are the children of Palestine who don’t know surrender. Don’t play with us, bastards the sons of Zion.”
In further posts, she warned that Palestinians will take the Israeli city of Tel Aviv “back from the hands of the rapists” and describes the “joy” of terrorists filmed breaking across the Gaza border.
Seemingly in the United States at the time of the massacre, Esmail also apparently graffitied her car in support of Hamas, showing off photos of a vehicle daubed in slogans including “Freedom to Palestine!” and “Today is the victory day, promised and memorable for Gaza 7/10/2023.”
Other posts written by Esmail include her praise for Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas terrorist dubbed “The Engineer,” who introduced the tactic of suicide bombings and orchestrated attacks that killed dozens of Israelis, and current Hamas spokesman Abu Obaida, whose picture she once used as her own profile photo.
Meanwhile, her son, Ibrahim Hamed, who painted a picture of his mother as a harmless woman to The Guardian, commented beneath one photo of his burka-clad mother aiming a rifle: “Walla, let me go hide kill em.”
Unfortunately, The Guardian wasn’t the only outlet to be taken in by what it described as Hamed’s “mother’s plight.”
The Washington Post published a piece that quoted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization previously found to have ties to Hamas, and its demand that as “an American citizen, Samaher Esmail deserves the full protection and support of her government.”
And CBS News went even further, printing her son’s ludicrous claim that none of his mother’s posts “support Hamas specifically.”
Perhaps CBS News should have tried doing some actual journalism and checking to see if she had expressed support for Hamas.
Sadly, it seems that even the most basic journalistic standards have been abandoned by so many leading news organizations when it comes to reporting on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The latest tale of injustice toward Palestinians that has transpired to be anything but, is evidence of that.
Update: The Guardian amended its story after HonestReporting revealed Samaher Esmail’s Facebook posts with the following paragraph: “The statement did not elaborate, but a Facebook profile that matches Esmail’s name and likeness – with fewer than 110 followers – contained an image of her smiling next to text spelling out the date of Hamas’ 7 October attack on Israel. At least two images displayed her posing with a rifle.”
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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Brown University Investigating Threats of Violence Sent to Hillel Officials
Two officials of Brown-RISD Hillel, a Jewish life center serving both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, were sent “violent threats” early Sunday morning, according to a report by The Brown Daily Herald.
After being alerted of threats, which were sent via email, the university’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a search of Brown-RISD Hillel and determined there is “no evidence of any one-site threat.” DPS vice president Rodney Chatman told The Brown Daily Herald that “local, state, and federal authorities” are investigating the incident.
“This comes at an especially difficult time of distress on our campuses,” Brown University president Christina H. Paxson said in a statement addressing the incident. “Our students, faculty, and staff continue to grapple with the deaths of Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the wake of the October 7 attacks, as well as a despicable act of violence against a member of the Brown community here in the United States last November, and increases in reports of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.”
In Sunday’s statement President Paxson said that “robust” security measures will be implemented to protect Brown-RISD Hillel, as well as the officials who were threatened, from harm.
The incident is not the first antisemitic act of hatred since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.
In December, the university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity opened an investigation into an incident in which someone slipped a threatening note underneath the door of an off-campus apartment rented by Jewish students.
“Those who live for death will die by their own hand,” said the note, which, according to the Brown Daily Herald, matches lyrics from a song by an early 1980s punk band. The paper added that the note was found by an electrician, who brought it inside.
A similar incident occurred last November at a Brown-RISD Hillel. Additionally, in 2020, a swastika was graffitied in Brown’s Hegeman Hall. In 2017, another was found in a gender-neutral bathroom at RISD. It was drawn using human feces, according to the Brown Daily Herald.
Last week, President Paxson rejected the demands of anti-Zionist students who were participating in a hunger strike in an effort to force the Brown Corporation to vote on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel and make other concessions.
The university has twice ordered the arrests of extremist anti-Zionists student protesters, who have held unauthorized demonstrations in administration buildings, sometimes occupying them for hours after being asked to leave. Over 40 were arrested in December while onlookers shouted “Shame on Brown, Shame on Brown!”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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