The view from my veranda

Day 18 In Hebrew that means life

Day 18,

24th October, 2023

Ironically, 18 – חי in Hebrew counting known as Gematria, means Chai, life.

I have to give you the true story of what happened to Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper who were released from captivity in Gaza. Last evening Yocheved’s granddaughter decided that her traumatised Safta should give a press conference and that was when we realised that nobody had debriefed Yocheved or explained the repercussions of every word she said.  To my dismay, my fears were correct, the foreign media jumped on her words that they had medication and food and were treated alright and left out the first part of what she said.

Let’s start at the beginning. Yocheved and Nurit were kidnapped when all around them they heard the screams of the most horrific, bloody rampage imaginable. Kidnapped, taken hostage by terrorists who had killed most of the people they knew.

Yocheved sat in her wheelchair, inundated with microphones, the closest held by her granddaughter. She started by saying that the moment they were taken into Gaza they were taken down into huge tunnels and she was slung painfully across a motorcycle in Kibbutz Nir Oz, sideways, her feet and head hanging over the side and taken into Gaza. She said that they travelled kilometres through a warren of tunnels  into the earth, during which time they hit her with sticks time and again “I don’t know how they didn’t break my ribs” she said. They finally arrived at a huge hall, still underground, and they saw mattresses on the ground, very organised, separated into specific kibbutzim and villages some people were separated. Once there, a medic was brought in and he checked the and then ordered their medicines. They received food, pita and hummus, and drink. But folks, they were captive and had no idea where their family was or whether they would live or die. This is a woman who survived the Holocaust.

Why she was released I cannot imagine. I know that her husband is a very well known journalist, far left, Oded Lifshitz, who used to help bring sick Gazans into Israel for treatment in our hospitals. Her husband and Nurit’s husband are still there. Who knows perhaps they told her that if she doesn’t say the right thing that he will die but I suppose we will never know.

So that is the whole story, and I am deeply grateful to my dear friend Martin for drawing my attention to the half-truth that the foreign media is spouting, that they were treated well. No they weren’t. I cannot get the picture of those two little babies, their ginger hair shining in the sun as their Mother clung to them for dear life. These are the terrorists that brutalized the bodies of babes and raped little girls. No, they didn’t treat anyone well, they kidnapped them and killed all their families and friends.

It is said that Hamas offered the terrorists of October 7th $10,000 and a new apartment for taking part in the massacre. I can’t prove it but that’s their policy so I have no reason to doubt it.

I know that your journalists were taken to Be’eri and show the most dreadful of videos of the horrors of October 7th. I know because it was Marcus Sheff who showed them. How do we have the videos of their sickening, vile, debauched rampage? Because they wore body-cams! Yes, Body cams so that they could record the cutting off of children’s heads and make sure that one of the young women’s Mothers would see them as they raped her time and again. I know you don’t really want to hear it but, it happened. If they were not moved by what they saw, if they did not tell you what they saw then they are lying.

I have to change key. I have to move on. I need to tell you of something beautiful and pure so that we can clear our brains of what was. I want you to know that we are an amazing people, that we the people have taken those removed from their homes, those who have lost everything, we the people have held them in our arms and emptied wardrobes, given furniture even if it meant that we sit on the floor ourselves, baked, cooked, bought and prayed for those whose lives will never be the same. We are so angry at our supposed leaders but we are doing it, at the moment Israelis of every nature are holding this country together! I love this generous, irritable, feisty, giving people called Israelis.

Perhaps the purest, most beautiful thing that I heard today was when Rachel told me about Talia’s school where they made a huge table of names, of each of the hostages and each girl took a name and read a verse of Tehilim (Psalms) for their hostage. Such a simple thing but so beautiful.

Zvi’s sons are incredible. Amiad, amongst the many selfless things he has done, realised that the people of Zaka, who faithfully gather body parts, no matter how ghastly the situation, needed new shoes, for obvious reasons, and his company went and bought 60 pairs of shoes to replace those that needed to be thrown. Leor is caring for all the members of his staff whose husbands are on reserve duty and I am so proud of our family. We are just one family among the many who have risen to the call.

The free world is expressing its understanding by arriving here, every day more and more. Emannuel Macron of France; President Schulz of Germany compared Hamas to Nazis and he should know; the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was so moved by the stories he heard that he hugged and cried with the families. A bipartisan delegation of Senators came to Israel to support us. It is heartwarming to hear the words of American leaders.

I went to my art studio this morning. I took some old paintings that I hadn’t finished and my excellent teacher sat with me and we thought of how to complete them without losing my emotions at the time. I can’t remember how it happened but I overheard one of the other people mention that she had relatives in Australia. “Which city”? She responded that most of her family had emigrated to Australia after the war. Who are your relatives? Well you could have knocked me down with a feather when she said Peter Hammerman! Zvi and Peter have been close friends or at least 50 years and the message that Naomi received was from Kitty, Peter’s wife! Of course, I immediately contacted Peter and discovered that Naomi is his first cousin and that he adores her. Gosh I love Jewish geography!

After ensuring that all the necessary information was at my fingertips and listening to Marcus who had spent the morning with European Union MPs, giving them a full briefing on the situation I allowed myself to relax. These particular MEPs are incredibly supportive of Israel and Marcus knows them all personally. To refresh my mind and body I walked with my friend and neighbour, another Naomi, to my music and movement class. It was spectacular. Our intimate little group of six women, led by Gali our teacher, learned a whole new set of coping skills through movement and dance. As we walked home we found ourselves smiling. Of course my favourite part is the freestyle dancing which I do outside on the deck overlooking Jerusalem.

So we are holding on to our sanity, ensuring that we are busy, busy, hopefully doing good and trying to spread a little joy in a situation which saps our strength.

That’s about it for now, hope that you will demand that your news media reports the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Vehi Sheamda expresses everything we pray for right now – Natanel Hershtik has the voice of an angel and the words, the prayer, the orison so appropriate “And this is what kept our fathers and what keeps us surviving. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us, and the Almighty saves us from their hands.”

With love