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The Horrible, Unspoken Truth About October 7 — Terrorism Works

An aerial view shows the bodies of victims of an attack following a mass infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip lying on the ground in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg

I had been meaning to watch Sheryl Sandberg’s film about the events of October 7th, Screams Before Silence, ever since it came out on YouTube roughly two weeks ago. It has taken me those two weeks to muster the courage and will to endure what I knew would be a painful and harrowing 57 minutes.

I have now watched the film. It was, indeed, painful and harrowing. Not because it provided information I didn’t already know; I knew that on October 7th, Hamas terrorists murdered and raped and mutilated (sometimes in that order) hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Israeli men, women and children. But hearing about it directly from the mouths of those who witnessed and experienced it was absolutely gut-wrenching.

Hearing a young girl tell of having to step over the body of her father, who had just been murdered, as the family was led out of their safe-room by kidnappers, only to have her young sister shot in the face and killed as well, because she kept fainting, thus inconveniencing the kidnappers, is something I don’t think I will ever forget.

Sandberg’s focus, however, is not the murders of the fathers and children, but rather the rapes and sexual assaults of the women. And as horrific as the individual stories are, perhaps even more shocking is the picture the film paints of the degree to which these rapes and sexual assaults were not spontaneous acts of barbarity. They were planned and orchestrated.

At one point, Sandberg interviews Shari Mendes, an IDF reservist at the October 7th military morgue who helped process the hundreds of body bags that came in. As Mendes describes the evidence of sexual violence she discovered in so many of those body bags, Sandberg asks: “Did this feel systematic to you?”

Mendes replies: “Yes, it did seem systematic, to use sexual violence as a weapon of war. I can’t imagine why anyone in the world would have a reason to shoot a woman in the vagina or in the breast — a deliberate genital mutilation of this specific population of women.”

Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, a former Vice-President of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, tells Sandberg: “The bodies whose breasts were cut were found in several other locations. That could not have been unless it was premeditated and preconceived by Hamas themselves.”

Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy, head of the Civil Commission on Oct. 7th Crimes by Hamas against Women and Children, further tells Sandberg: “It wasn’t incidental, it wasn’t just happening. They learned, they did their homework. This is kind of a pattern that we’re seeing, that it’s not only sexual abuse, but it’s sexual abuse in its worst form. It’s like they wanted to inflict pain in the cruelest manner possible.”

Sandberg follows up, asking Professor Halperin-Kaddari why Hamas would use sexual violence “as part of their remit for this attack?” The Professor answers: “Using sexual violence as a tool of war, of weaponizing women, sadly is [as] old as the history of humanity. Because when the body of the woman is violated, it symbolizes the body of the whole nation.”

It is possible that this is precisely the explanation for why Hamas undertook a raid of rape and mutilation with a brutality more consistent with the tactics of Genghis Khan than of any modern army. It is possible that the depth of their hatred of Jews, coupled with a religious fervor, resulted in a desire to inflict as much pain, not just physically but emotionally, on the Israeli populace as they could. They clearly thought using sexual violence to “weaponize women” would help achieve that goal.

But as I watched Screams Before Silence this week, in the context of more recent news — the widespread campus protests, the Biden administration stopping military aid to Israel — I was struck by a disturbing thought: the actions of Hamas on October 7th worked.

They worked not just in terms of inflicting pain upon their enemies, but in terms of leading to tangible public relations and geopolitical gains.

It was the very brutality of the attack on October 7th that resulted in the massive scale of Israel’s response, and it is the scale of Israel’s response that has resulted in unprecedented pro-Palestinian (and even pro-Hamas) protests on college campuses and throughout the United States and Europe. Protests of this magnitude have never occurred in the history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

It is also the scale of Israel’s response that has driven a wedge between Israel and the US — as reflected in the US failing to veto a UN ceasefire resolution biased against Israel, in Biden halting military aid, and in the recent Biden administration report making the preposterous claim that Israel had likely violated international law during the Gaza war.

Further, it is clear that there is now more pressure on Israel from the US and the international community for a two-state solution than there has been for decades. This would also qualify as a major victory for Hamas, were it not for the fact that Hamas opposes a two-state solution. Still, if history is a guide, the pressure will all be directed at Israel to make concessions, not at the Palestinians, so in that sense, it very much is a Hamas victory.

In order for Hamas to reap the rewards for their October 7th atrocities, there was one thing they counted on in addition to the scale of Israel’s response — they counted on the equally predictable anti-Israel bias of the UN, most of the Western press, and most of the Western leaders. Everyone played their part in a very predictable manner.

I say predictable, because it is not new. Yasser Arafat figured out the formula long ago: commit terrorist attacks, then wait for Israel’s response to prompt the West to force concessions on Israel, not the Palestinians. Hamas just took it to another level.

What the Western press and political leaders don’t seem to appreciate — or more likely, don’t seem to care about — is that by rewarding Hamas for October 7th, they reinforce the notion that terrorism works. As every economist (and every parent) knows, when you reward a behavior, you will get more of it. And so, rather than breaking the cycle of violence, the appeasement of Iran and Hamas only perpetuates it.

I can anticipate an argument that some might have at this point: “If Hamas committed such barbaric atrocities in order to provoke an extreme response by Israel, then wouldn’t Israel have been wiser not to have made such a response? Couldn’t Israel have won by responding in a limited fashion and leaving Hamas looking like the bad guy?”

My answer to that argument is: watch just 15 minutes of Sheryl Sandberg’s film, and then see if you can say that Israel’s response was excessive. Furthermore, Hamas has promised to repeat October 7th again and again and again. No nation could continue to exist with such a threat hanging over its head. Israel has no choice but to finish the job of destroying Hamas, whatever the cost in terms of its international reputation or relationship with the US.

And this is the diabolical genius of what Hamas did on October 7th. It worked. But only because the Western leaders, the Western press, and college students are all playing their parts. To those who frustratedly decry the never ending cycle of violence in the Middle East — terrorism followed by reprisal followed by terrorism followed by reprisal — I’d like to suggest a solution that has yet to be tried: stop rewarding terrorism and perhaps we’ll get a lot less of it.

Michael Kaplan is a TV writer-producer, playwright, and children’s book author. For his TV work, he has been nominated for four Emmy Awards, winning one.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

The post Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

When producers from the New York Times podcast “The Daily” posted on social media looking for “Jewish students who represent a range of feelings and experiences, from being enthusiastically pro Palestinian to enthusiastically pro Israel, and everything in between,” I replied, “This is a trap! They’ll use the ‘pro-Palestinian’ (the polite term they use for the ones who want to wipe Israel off the map) ones to make it sound like the Jewish community is divided and give listeners the illusion that the anti-Israel protests aren’t antisemitic.”

Sure enough, the Times podcast episode that finally aired, headlined, “The Campus Protesters Explain Themselves,” included three students.

Mustafa Yowell, of Irving, Texas, said his mother was from “Nablus, Palestine” and described himself as a Palestinian Arab. He’s a student at the University of Texas, Austin who complained to the Times that “two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers had infiltrated the campus.” By “IDF soldiers” he meant Israeli students at the university who had, like many Israelis, served in the army before college.

The second student interviewed, Elisha Baker, a student at Columbia University, described himself as a proud Zionist and a graduate of Jewish day school.

And the third student, Jasmine Jolly, a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, described herself as the daughter of a Catholic father and “of Ashkenazi descent on my mom’s side.” Jolly showed up at protests with a sign that said “in honor of my Jewish ancestors, I stand with Palestine.” Jolly also chanted “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

“There’s nothing that has come across to me as antisemitic if you are able to pause and remember that Israel is not Jewish people and Zionism is not Jewish people,” Jolly explained to the Times audience.

Jolly read an email from her Jewish grandfather claiming, “Israel is an increasingly apartheid state.”

This is just such a misleading view of reality on campus and in American Jewish life. Even polls like Pew that use an expansive definition of who is Jewish find overwhelming Jewish support for Israel and negligible support for Hamas, including among younger Jews 18 to 34.

In reality, a lot of the anti-Israel protesters aren’t even Palestinians; they are European or Asian students or white or black Americans who either have been brainwashed by their professors or who have underlying, pre-existing antisemitic attitudes. Few of them have been to the Middle East and many of them are ignorant about basic facts about it — remember the Wall Street Journal piece, “From Which River to Which Sea?

“The Daily” episode made it crisply concrete, with the Times representing Jews as being split 50-50, with one normative Jew and one Jew chanting “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” That’s ridiculous, yet a similar approach contaminates other Times coverage of the Jewish community, misleadlingly portraying American Jewry as deeply divided rather than unified around the goals of getting the hostages back, eliminating the threat of Hamas, and making American college campuses safe for Jewish students.

The Times was at this game well before Oct. 7, 2023, proclaiming “the unraveling of American Zionism” and trotting out old chestnuts such as the Reform movement’s Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 and the New York Times‘ favorite Jew, Peter Beinart.

I find myself rolling my eyes at such depictions, but there is clearly some audience for them among the Times readership and top editorial ranks. The Times executive editor, Joe Kahn, told Semafor’s Ben Smith in a May interview, “I’m not an active Jew.” Maybe the New York Times can sell sweatshirts: “Inactive Jew.” Who, exactly, is supposed to find that distinction between “active” and “inactive” Jews reassuring? Maybe they can put it on top of the front page in place of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”: “Edited by someone who wants the public to know he’s not an active Jew.”

Of all the moments to choose to distance oneself publicly from the Jewish people, this is sure quite one to choose.

This “Daily” episode seems calculated to appeal to the inactive Jews, and to others who want justification to believe it’s not antisemitic to set up on Passover and falsely accuse Israel of genocide. It’s nice for the Times to include a Zionist voice on the program, but he wound up sandwiched in between a Palestinian and an “only one solution, intifada revolution” person. It’s fairly typical for the New York Times these days, but it isn’t pretty.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. He also writes at

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in an undated propaganda video released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on May 30, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Thursday released a second propaganda video this week featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

In the video, Trufanov says he is doing well and criticizes Israel’s prime minister and government in remarks that were likely scripted by his captors.

There was no information about when the video was filmed. However, Trufanov refers to Israel’s decision on May 5 to order the local offices of Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite news network to close, indicating he may have been filmed in the last few weeks.

The latest video came just two days after Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza, released its first video featuring Trufanov.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare meant to torture the Israeli public, especially the families of the hostages being held in Gaza.

Trufanov’s mother said after the first video was released that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but it was “heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

“Seeing my Sasha on my TV was very cheering, but it also breaks my heart that he’s still been in captivity for so long,” she said in a video released by the family. “I ask everyone, all the decision-makers: Please do everything, absolutely everything, to bring my son and all the hostages home now.”

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Sasha was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend. All three women were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

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