A Small Taste of How Hamas Hostages are Suffering

    Lauren Markoe writing in the Forward:

    Smack in the middle of the National Mall, there is a shipping container that advocates for the hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 want you to walk through. Volunteers with the the Hostages and Missing Families Forum will tell you to wait a minute at its entrance, so your eyes can adjust to the darkness. The whole experience — walking the length of the container and watching a short video about those in captivity — takes about three minutes.

    The 100-plus hostages have been held in Gaza for 166 days.

    The container is protected by a guard and cost $1,800, a volunteer named Tamar Pinto told me when I visited on Thursday. It was placed on the Mall on Tuesday and will remain through Sunday [March 24], then is headed to New York City; Philadelphia; Rochester, New York; and beyond.

    I visited today and made these photos. I found the experience very moving. The moment I walked in the trailer I could not see anything until my eyes adjusted. I was completely disoriented. The kind volunteer who accompanied me said this is the intent of the hostage takers. And I was only in the trailer for about three minutes.

    If you can visit, I recommend it.

    Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA Open Letter to Jonathan Glazer

    David Schaecter, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor, wrote this letter on March 11, 2024:

    I am 94 years old and the only member of 105 souls in my family to survive the Holocaust. I miraculously survived nearly three years in the hell of Auschwitz and one year in the hell of Buchenwald.

    I watched in anguish Sunday night when I heard you use the platform of the Oscars ceremony to equate Hamas’s maniacal brutality against innocent Israelis with Israel’s difficult but necessary self-defense in the face of Hamas’s ongoing barbarity.

    Your comments were factually inaccurate and morally indefensible.

    The “occupation” of which you speak has nothing to do with the Holocaust. The Jewish people’s existence and right to live in the land of Israel predates the Holocaust by hundreds of years. Today’s political and geographic landscape is the direct result of wars started by past Arab leaders who refused to accept Jewish people as their neighbors in our historic homeland. Now that several Arab countries are making peace with Israel because security and prosperity are better for all people, Iran and its terrorist proxies started another war, abetted by too many, who, through naïveté or malice, blame “the occupation.”

    Worse is that you chose to use the Holocaust to validate your personal opinion. You made a Holocaust movie and won an Oscar. And you are Jewish. Good for you. But it is disgraceful for you to presume to speak for the six million Jews, including one and half million children, who were murdered solely because of their Jewish identity.

    And it is disgraceful for you to presume to speak for those of us who personally saw the world stand silent as our mothers, father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were murdered. We actually had nowhere to go — no possible place for refuge. No country would accept us even though world leaders knew full well that thousands of Jews were being murdered every day. There was no Jewish nation to which we could flee.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for using Auschwitz to criticize Israel.


    Almost Half of World Jewry Now Lives in Israel

    Alvin H. Rosenfeld1 writing in Tablet:

    There will be no Jewish future worthy the name without the State of Israel. At present, something like 47% of world Jewry lives in Israel. That’s almost one out of every two Jews alive. Were Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and their allies ever to succeed in liquidating Israel, the loss would be immeasurable and irrecoverable. Most Jews still alive elsewhere would be physically imperiled, psychologically traumatized, and spiritually enervated to the point of collapse. That might have been the Jewish condition after the Holocaust, were it not for Israel’s founding only three years after the liberation of the death camps—an act of collective revival that demonstrated a level of national resilience and spiritual rebirth almost without parallel in history. But far from recognizing the Jewish people’s reestablishment of national independence and political sovereignty in its ancient homeland in positive terms, some of Israel’s neighbors have seen the existence of the Jewish state as an intolerable affront that needs to be reversed.

    1. Director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington↩︎