On October 7th, 19-year-old Corporal Naama Boni was serving in the 77th Armored Corps Battalion of the IDF. It was 7:00 am, and she was standing guard at the entrance of the Zikim military base just north of Gaza, soon after it had come under intense rocket fire.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, dozens of Hamas fighters arrived at the base, on motorcycles, trucks, and tractors, armed with high-caliber rifles and RPGs. Minutes earlier these terrorists had broken through the Gaza-Israel barrier and raced toward the base, intending to take it over and murder all the soldiers stationed there.
Naama called for reinforcements and was quickly joined by three soldiers who rushed to the gate without their uniforms on, and also by a member of the 13th Battalion of the Golani Brigade who had been stationed at the rear of the base. In the fierce exchange of fire that followed, Naama was wounded, as was her Golani colleague, and they both sought cover.
It was at this point that Naama messaged her family. “I care deeply for all of you,” she texted. “I have a head injury, and a terrorist nearby might start shooting at me. I am now with an injured soldier from the Golani Brigade, and no reinforcements are available.”
Soon afterward, she texted again: “There is a terrorist here who won’t go away. I can hear someone screaming, and it looks like someone has been killed.” That was her last text. Naama’s body was discovered later that day, when the invading terrorists were all finally killed.
Naama’s text messages — which went viral after being shared by her family a few days after she was killed — struck a chord in Israel and around the world, giving human depth and background to Naama’s photo and name that initially appeared in the media after her death was announced.
Since then, dozens of other similar stories have emerged. On December 3rd, 22-year-old Major General Ben Zussman, entered a building in Gaza with his unit. Inside they encountered Hamas terrorists, who began firing their weapons. In the ensuing gun battle, Ben lost his life, along with four of his comrades. The following week, Ben’s parents revealed a letter he had written to them, to be opened only if he became a casualty of war.
“I am writing this message to you on the way to the base,” his letter began. “If you are reading this, something must have happened to me.” What followed was both poignant and heartbreaking. “As you know, there is probably no one happier than me right now. I had the privilege of fulfilling my dream and vocation and you can be sure that I am looking down on you and smiling. I will probably sit next to Grandpa.” Finally, he added that if “God forbid” his family had to sit shiva for him, “make sure it is a week of friends, family and fun.”
Adi Leon, an IDF Staff Sergeant of 20, also left a letter for his family. They received it after he was killed in a gun battle on October 31st, the first day of the ground incursion into Gaza. “I go out to fight this war with the knowledge that I am not certain I will return, but I believe with a full heart in what I am doing. We do not have another land, and now it is my turn to protect it and to avenge all the civilians and soldiers, the children, the elderly, and all the women who were defenseless in the face of the onslaught by Hamas. This is the education that my parents gave me. In this I believe. I hope I will be remembered. Adi.”
The letter gained widespread attention and was quoted by President Isaac Herzog. That same week, Adi’s aunt shared his favorite chocolate cake recipe, and that went viral too; people everywhere are now baking Adi’s cherished cake, with some even sending them to soldiers on the front-lines as a tribute to his memory.
In the opening verses of Shemot, the Torah mentions the names of all 12 sons of Jacob, then telling us that they had died, along with their entire generation. The commentaries puzzle over this introduction; the sons of Jacob are seemingly irrelevant to the unfolding narrative of the Israelite’s enslavement by the Egyptians, and the ultimate redemption of the Exodus story. Additionally, the Torah is well known to be sparing with its text — so why are we presented with this unconnected genealogical information?
The answer is simple: The opening verses of Shemot are not meant to be seen as a genealogical recounting, but rather they act as a meaningful link between the closing chapters of Bereishit and the story of Israel in Egypt. The names of Jacob’s sons are invoked to remind us that although these superlative individuals were no longer present, their legacies endured, and were shaping the destiny of the nascent nation. This continuous thread of identity and purpose bound the trials of our patriarchal founders to the tribulations and aspirations of the Jewish people in their subsequent servitude and liberation.
The stories of Naama, Ben, and Adi, as recorded in the communications with their families — and the stories of all the many young soldiers whose lives have been sacrificed during this horrible war — are modern echoes of this unbroken chain of legacy.
The values instilled by our patriarchs and the dreams nurtured through centuries of perseverance find their expression in the courage and sacrifice of these young guardians of Israel. Their letters, filled with echoes of love for family and nation, are a testament to the enduring influence of those who came before them. They are a powerful affirmation that the spirit of our founding fathers, their fortitude, and their faith, live on in the hearts of their descendants.
To be clear — mentioning the tribes at the beginning of Shemot is not just about using their names as a literary device to connect the end of Bereishit with Shemot. It is about reaffirming a promise — the promise that each generation will carry forward the sacred legacy bequeathed to them by the generation that preceded them.
The tribulations in Egypt and the subsequent exodus were not just formative events, but were chapters in a larger narrative of a people that was inexorably linked to their past, as they lived out the dreams and ideals of their forebears. So too today. Each act of bravery, every letter sent home, is testimony to a legacy of resilience and hope that stretches back to the dawn of Jewish history, and which will continue until the end of days.
The post We Will Remember Each Israeli Soldier; Their Story Continues Our Journey first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
French Government Will Hold Commemoration for Victims of Hamas Pogrom Amid Disquiet Over Far Left Party’s Participation
French President Emmanuel Macron will preside over a special ceremony on Wednesday to commemorate the French victims of the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas pogrom in Israel as a row over the potential presence of far left parliamentarians continues to fester.
A statement from the Elysée Palace on Monday confirmed Macron’s presence at Wednesday’s event, which will take place at Les Invalides in Paris, where the French National Assembly and other leading national institutions are based.
A spokeswoman for Macron’s office pointed out that 42 French citizens were among the more than 1,200 people murdered during the Hamas assault, with a further three still being held hostage in Gaza.
Answering a question from a reporter about whether a similar event would be held for French citizens killed during the IDF bombing of Gaza that followed the assault, she added that a separate memorial ceremony would be held at a date yet to be determined. “It is obvious that we owe the same emotion and the same dignity to the French victims of the bombings in Gaza, and this tribute will be paid to them at another time,” she said. It is not clear how many French passport holders have actually been killed since the French government announced the deaths of two Palestinian children who were French citizens on Oct. 31.
Wednesday’s ceremony will unfold “under the universal sign of the fight against anti-Semitism and through it, all forms of hatred, racism and oppression against minorities,” the official statement from the presidency declared. Each of the murdered victims will be commemorated through the display of a photograph with their name attached. Families of the victims will be present, many of them being flown in from Israel on a special flight chartered by the French government.
The event is already mired in controversy due the announcement of parliamentarians from the far left La France Insoumise (LFI -“France Rising”) that they plan to attend. LFI has been vocal in its support of Palestinians in Gaza, frequently drawing accusations of antisemitism because of its harsh rhetoric. Earlier this month, the daughter of two LFI MPs was arrested for allegedly antisemitic social media posts in the weeks following the Hamas attack, while another LFI MP faced condemnation over a posting on social media that invoked a popular Japanese manga meme appropriated by antisemites.
In a letter to Macron, members of five of the victims families demanded a ban on the participation of LFI MPs.
“We, families of victims of Hamas terrorists, solemnly demand that any presence of LFI at the national tribute that will be paid to the 42 Franco-Israeli victims of 7/10 be prohibited,” the letter stated.
However, that request is unlikely to be granted. Pointing out that parliamentarians are automatically invited to state-organized ceremonies, Macron’s office stated that “It is up to everyone to assess the appropriateness or not of their presence since the families spoke out and expressed strong emotion,” but notably did not accede to the ban request.
Mathilde Panot, the head of the LFI deputies in the National Assembly, said last week that she planned to attend the ceremony.
“I will be present and I have asked that a tribute be paid to all the French victims of this war in the Middle East, including the Franco-Palestinians killed in Gaza by the Israeli army,” she said.
Montana Tucker “Bring Them Home” Grammy Tribute for Israeli Hostages Turns Heads
Jewish singer and songwriter Montana Tucker showed her support for Israelis still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza at Sunday night’s 66th Annual Grammy Awards, an annual ceremony held to honor the record industry’s most critically acclaimed artists.
Posing for photographers, Tucker walked the red carpet clad in a beige, diaphanous corset gown ornamented with a yellow ribbon that said, “Bring Them Home.” She also wore a Star of David necklace.
136 Israeli hostages remain imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza. They have been there since Oct. 7, when the terrorist organization committed a massacre of Jews across the southern region of Israel, the deadliest mass killing of Jews since the Holocaust. Hamas’ fighters brutally murdered and rape hundreds, and according to numerous reports, more are being sexually abused in captivity.
Tucker’s wasn’t the only statement made about the Israel-Hamas war. Ann Lennox, Scottish vocalist of the popular 1980s band Eurythmics — most known for its No. 1 song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — called for a ceasefire in Gaza in a speech delivered after she performed a tribute to Sinéad O’Connor.
Raising a “Black Power” fist before a much larger audience than Tucker was accorded, Lennox proclaimed, “Artists for a ceasefire. Peace in the world.”
Lennox was alluding to “Artists4Ceasefire,” a small group of entertainers who issued a letter calling on President Joe Biden to “end the bombing of Gaza” that did not mention that Hamas started the war or condemn rising antisemitism. The letter’s signatories include, among other B-list celebrities, Adam Lambert — who in 2009 won second place in the now-discontinued television series American Idol — Jennifer Lopez, Rosie O’Donnell, and Alyssa Milano.
The Algemeiner honored Montana Tucker in 2022 for being one of 100 people recognized for positively influencing Jewish life. A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Tucker was dogged all her life by assertions that she does not “look Jewish.” Undeterred by the remarks, she committed to proudly representing the Jewish community, and in 2022 produced “How To: Never Forget,” a ten-part docuseries about her grandparents lives in Poland before the Nazi invasion.
“This has been my responsibility to do this, for me and my grandparents and everyone else,” Tucker said at the time, during an interview. “People are used to seeing my very light-hearted, fun dance videos and me collaborating with a lot of different people…It’s rare for me and my content, and rare for the platform in general, to have a docuseries on the Holocaust.”
Other pro-Israel activists wore apparel to the Grammy awards to show. Orthodox Rabbi-Rapper Moshe Reuven, whose song “You Are Not Alone” has amassed over one million streams on Spotify, sported a “Never Is Now” shirt distributed through partnership between civil rights nonprofit StandWithUs and Perspective Fitwear. The shirt’s designer is Karen Margolis.
Taylor Swift’s 2022 record, titled Midnights, won “Album of the Year,” and rapper Jay-Z implied during a speech for accepting the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award that his wife, multi-platinum artists and most-winning Grammy award winner ever Beyoncé, has never won “Album of the Year” because she is a Black woman. The moment was reminiscent of a 2009 incident in which Kanye West stormed the stage of the MTV Awards to denounce Swift’s winning “Best Video by a Female Artist.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post Montana Tucker “Bring Them Home” Grammy Tribute for Israeli Hostages Turns Heads first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Israeli Bank Shutter Accounts of Settlers Sanctioned By Biden
The Israeli bank accounts of two of the Israelis sanctioned by the United States government last week were closed on Sunday and Monday. Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich spoke out against the action, saying “I will take action as the finance minister and do what I must. If need be, we’ll advance legislation on the matter.” He further called the instance “unthinkable” that it occurred.
The two Israelis, Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai, had their personal and business accounts closed by Bank Leumi and Bank Hadoar, respectively. The other two settlers listed bank with Bank Hapoalim, who also said they would close the accounts, saying “Bank Hapoalim respects the international sanctions and will comply with any legal order.”
The Bank of Israel announced their support for the move, saying “Banking corporations, by necessity of their international activities, are required to establish policies and procedures for the use of international sanctions lists and national sanctions lists of foreign countries and for entering into or carrying out operations with parties declared on such lists. Circumvention of sanctions regimes as mentioned, has the effect of exposing the banking corporations to significant risks, among them, compliance risks, money laundering and terrorist financing risks, legal risks and reputational risks.”
Chasdai, who denies any wrongdoing, said “The fact that a government bank decides in the middle of a bright day to seize the bank accounts of settlers solely because of pressure from extreme leftist organizations and a hostile American government is unimaginable, but the fact that this is happening under the tenure of a right-wing government just after the greatest massacre in the country’s history is a national disgrace first class.”
“We have gone through many oppressors who harmed the people of Israel over the generations, we will also go through the persecution of Biden and his aides,” he added.
US President Joe Biden approved the sanctions last week, saying “The situation in the West Bank – in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction – has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security and stability in the region.”
The post Israeli Bank Shutter Accounts of Settlers Sanctioned By Biden first appeared on Algemeiner.com.