Like most Israelis and Jews living in the diaspora, Adi Vaxman turned on the news on Oct. 7 to complete shock and horror. The scenes of Hamas terrorists rampaging across southern Israel — where they murdered 1,200 people and took 240 more as hostages — immediately seared itself into the Jewish psyche.
Vaxman, though, jumped into action to help her people, succeeding in the most remarkable ways with her nonprofit Operation Israel.
“I was traumatized and upset, but within 10 days [after Oct. 7] we had the nonprofit registered and everything was operating,” she told The Algemeiner from her home in New Jersey.
Operation Israel, which has raised more than $7.25 million since the war started, has been shipping essential gear to Israel’s soldiers fighting Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah to the north by the Lebanese border, and Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank.
Vaxman, a business operations consultant, said new ideas for the organization started immediately out of necessity.
“I had family members drafted to the army, but people reported to duty drafted or not,” she explained. In her case, helping to fulfill the desperate needs of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the early days of the war, woefully unprepared for the immediate call up of over 350,000 reservists to duty, was the top priority.
Operation Israel set up an online intake form where units could request exactly what they needed. “In the beginning, it was ceramic vests and ceramic plates, then different types of gear,” Vaxman said. “We were researching what to buy, where to buy it — can it be bought in Israel?”
Today, the organization is focused on more specialized gear such as “drones, special communication equipment, medical supplies, tactical protective gear, tents, heaters, and other items.
The resultant work has led Operation Israel to now be partners with specific units dealing with drone training and anti-terrorism — and the success the nonprofit is bringing the units is evident in the daily antidotes that come from the field. “The drones are saving lives, being flown into tunnels before soldiers … If something is blown up it is the drone, not a soldier or dog,” Vaxman said. She told one story from last week when 14 soldiers were saved after being stuck in frigid temperatures, keeping themselves warm with the blankets provided by Operation Israel.
Other stories Vaxman’s team has received are of soldiers whose lives were saved by the ballistic goggles they have been providing. “These are the stories that make it all worth it,” she said.
Currently, the organization has dozens of volunteers both in the US and Israel working around the clock to fulfill the needs of Israel’s frontline fighters. To date, they have shipped more than $7 million worth of gear — more than 66,000 pounds combined — to over 900 units, comprising more than 10,000 soldiers. This included 2,500 ballistic glasses, 2,000 bulletproof vests, 2,000 tactical sunglasses, 1,000 rescue blankets, and countless other gear.
The requests are not simple, and they come in daily. For example, some drones can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, meaning sourcing the right gear is critical.
“I wish we didn’t have to do the work, but I am proud to,” Vaxman said. “God gave me a gift in my abilities to do so.”
One effect of the Israel-Hamas war that she did not expect was how it would impact her and her family, specifically as it pertains to long-term planning and where they would live. On Jan. 1, Vaxman was walking in the American Dream Mall in New Jersey with her husband, 16-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son, and her daughter’s friend. Proud of their heritage, her daughter was wearing an IDF jacket, leading hostile pro-Hamas agitators to approach her family and yell profanities.
“We started hearing all from behind us: Free Palestine, f—k Israel, f—k you bi—h, f—k you wh—e,” all directed at her daughter, Vaxman said. “My husband got between them and us, telling them to leave her alone, saying she is just a child.” However, the agitators continued the antisemitic harassment, cursing and threw her phone to the ground.
Vaxman, who was raised by Holocaust survivors, said the incident shook her daughter, who has been struggling since. “They were going at her in a vile, horrible way,” Vaxman said. The family submitted the video to the nonprofit watchdog group StopAntisemitism, which is active on social media, where the clip went viral. The watchdog found the main assailant, who claimed to be Palestinian in the video, although it turned out she was Hispanic.
“Until the attack it hadn’t crossed my mind to live anywhere else,” Vaxman said. “But the rise of antisemitism and the way it has become acceptable, I don’t know if we are going to be here.”
Antisemitism has skyrocketed to historic levels worldwide, including in the US, since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel.
At the same time, Vaxman’s kids have shown a deeper appreciation for their Jewish heritage, no doubt in part due to their mother, who said she was committed to working on behalf of the Jewish people and Israel, providing IDF soldiers with all their needs as they come in.
“I am never going to stop advocating for the Jewish people and Israel,” she said.
Rashida Tlaib Votes ‘Present’ on US House Condemnation of Hamas’ Use of Sexual Violence
The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on Wednesday condemning Hamas’ use of sexual assault as a weapon of war during its October 7 terrorist attack — in which it killed 1,200 Israelis and took almost 250 more hostage — in a near-unanimous vote, with a single exception.
The one “present” vote came from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who argued that she could not vote in favor of the resolution because it does not also accuse the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of using sexual assault as a weapon of war.
By a vote of 418-0-1, the House passed a resolution that “condemns all rape and forms of sexual violence as weapons of war, including those acts committed by Hamas terrorists on and since October 7th.” It also “calls on all international bodies to unequivocally condemn” Hamas’ actions.
Tlaib has emerged as the most outspoken anti-Israel member of the House in recent months. She has accused Israel of committing genocide and has appeared at events with people who celebrated Hamas’ October 7 attack.
Michael Dickson, Executive Director of the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, reacted to her vote, saying, “Rashida Tlaib is so racist she cannot bring herself to condemn the brutal rape of women used by Hamas as a weapon of war… because the women that were raped were Jewish Israelis. A new low. Most American women – and men – will recoil in horror at her vote.”
The former US Deputy Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism, Ellie Cohanim, wrote that Tlaib “is the ONLY member of Congress who refuses to condemn Hamas’ rape. What an absolute sicko.”
However, in a speech on the floor of the House, Tlaib said, “While the resolution on the floor rightfully denounces any sexual violence by Hamas, I am disturbed that it completely ignores and erases any sexual violence and abuse committed by the Israeli forces, against Palestinians, especially children.”
She cited an article from Haaretz about an incident in October where settlers and soldiers detained three Palestinian men in the West Bank, had them strip to their underwear, and beat them. The piece notes that there was even “an attempt to penetrate one of them with an object.”
The article notes that, in response, the IDF dismissed the force commander and opened an investigation into the incident. Later, five additional soldiers were dismissed for their role in the abuse.
Since October 7, numerous independent investigations have found that Hamas engaged in widespread sexual and gender-based violence against Israelis, including rape.
After the resolution passed, Rep. Louis Frankel (D-FL), who introduced the bill, wrote, “Our resolution makes it clear: Rape & sexual assault are not acceptable tools of war.”
CEO of the American Jewish Committee, Ted Deutch, applauded the passage of the resolution but added that “The international community’s utter failure to adequately condemn and address Hamas’ use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war on and since October 7 is not merely disappointing – it is a dereliction of duty for all who claim to stand for human rights and humanity.”
The post Rashida Tlaib Votes ‘Present’ on US House Condemnation of Hamas’ Use of Sexual Violence first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
‘No Reward for The Murderers’: Israeli Officials Bash US Plan To Recognize Palestinian State
A chorus of Israeli officials spoke out against a reported peace plan being pushed by the United States and several Arab states that would include the recognition of a Palestinian state on Thursday.
The proposed plan, as detailed in The Washington Post, calls for “the withdrawal of many, if not all, settler communities on the West Bank; a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem; the reconstruction of Gaza; and security and governance arrangements for a combined West Bank and Gaza.”
In order to attempt to force Israel’s hand, the report says, “U.S. officials said the menu of actions under consideration include early U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state — even as elements of political reform, security guarantees for both Israel and the Palestinians, normalization and reconstruction are being implemented.”
“In my speech yesterday in Berlin, I warned against the dangerous plan that is taking shape for unilateral international recognition of a Palestinian state,” said MK Gideon Sa’ar, who is not part of the government coalition – but part of the war cabinet coalition – National Unity. “This plan will not only not resolve the conflict but will make it intractable. The Palestinians will receive state recognition without paying the the price of compromise and they will continue the conflict from an upgraded position that will harm Israel’s right to self-defense.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been clear that he is opposed to a Palestinian state, and that Israel will maintain security control over the Gaza Strip once the war ends.
“1,400 murdered and the world wants to give them a state. It won’t happen,” tweeted National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. He added in an interview with Israeli media “The intention of the US, together with the Arab states, to establish a terror state alongside the State of Israel is delusional and part of the misguided conception that there is a partner for peace on the other side… While we are in the government, no Palestinian state will be established.”
Education Minister Yoav Kisch added “We are only concerned with winning in Gaza. There will simply be no reward for the murderers.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also tweeted against the plan, saying “We will in no way agree to this plan, which actually says that the Palestinians deserve a reward for the terrible massacre they did to us: a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The message is that it pays very well to massacre Israeli citizens. A Palestinian state is an existential threat to the State of Israel as was proven on October 7, Kfar Saba will not be Kfar Aza!”
He further called on the cabinet to issue “a clear and unequivocal decision stating that Israel opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state and the imposition of sanctions on over half a million settlers. I expect clear support from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Gadi Eisenkot and all the ministers.”
The post ‘No Reward for The Murderers’: Israeli Officials Bash US Plan To Recognize Palestinian State first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
‘Explosion of Hate’ Antisemitism in United Kingdom Reached Unprecedented Level in 2023, New Report Says
More antisemitic incidents occurred in the United Kingdom in 2023 than any year in the history of recording such data, according to a new report issued on Thursday by Community Security Trust (CST), a nonprofit that offers security services and training to the country’s Jewish community.
The report, titled Antisemitic Incidents Report 2023, said that 4,103 antisemitic incidents happened in the country in 2023, an increase of 147 percent from 2022. They included physical assaults, hate speech, threats, and cases of what the nonprofit described as “damage and desecration” of Jewish religious symbols and houses of worship. CST noted that over 2,000 other incidents reported to its offices were not included in its official statistics, noting that some “were not deemed to be antisemitic” while others involved “suspicious activity” and other potential threats to physical safety.
“British Jews are strong and resilient, but the explosion in hatred against our community is an absolute disgrace,” CST chief executive Mark Gardner said in a statement. “It occurs in schools, universities, workplaces, on the streets, and all over social media. Our community is being harassed, intimidated, threatened, and attacked by extremists who also oppose society as a whole. We thank the government and police for their support, but this is a challenge for everyone and we condemn the stony silence from those sections of society that eagerly call out racism in every other case, except when it comes to Jew hate.”
CST’s data shows a massive uptick of antisemitic incidents immediately after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, which resulted in hundreds of murders of civilians, abductions of the young and elderly, and numerous sexual assaults of Israeli women. Between January and September, there were fewer than 200 incidents but 1,303 in October alone, over 1,200 in November and December. From Oct. 7 until the end of the year, CST added, its offices received an average of 31 reports per day.
In that span of time, CST recorded its highest single-day and single-week totals of antisemitic incidents, indicating “that it was celebration of Hamas’ attack, rather than anger towards Israel’s military response in Gaza, that prompted the unprecedented levels of antisemitism across the country.” Additionally, the report added, perpetrators signposted their anti-Zionist hatred in 43 percent of incidents, saying Zionist, Zionism, or “Free Palestine!” while committing an offense. In 955 others, they alluded to Adolf Hitler and Nazism, both of which they often connected to Hamas and anti-Zionism.
“Perpetrators either glorified Hamas’ act of terror as a repeat of the Nazis extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust, or lamented Hitler’s failure to eliminate world Jewry entirely,” CST explained, adding that others expressed being motivated by Islamic-antisemitism, viewing the conflict between Israelis and Hamas as part of a larger conflagration between Jews and Muslims.
Antisemitism on social media also proliferated after Oct. 7, appearing the most on X/Twitter, where CST found 704 examples of it, an increase of 249 percent. X users often based their antisemitism on conspiracies and other extreme political ideologies.
“The figures noted in CST’s Antisemitic Report 2023 should be a reminder to British civil society of the serious nature of antisemitism and the impact that it has on the Jewish community,” Lord Mann, His Majesty’s Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism, said in a statement on the report’s findings. “As we have seen over the years, when tensions rise in the Middle East there is an increase in antisemitism around the world. However, this scale is unprecedented and is, for the first time ever, widespread across every police region in the United Kingdom.”
Mann continued, “This country will not tolerate the abuse or intimidation of any of its citizens and I will continue to make sure that it remains a safe place for our Jewish community.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.