Thousands of people gathered that fateful autumn day, for a peaceful music festival. They came from all around the world, representing every religion. And as you already know, the Nova festival was ambushed, slaughtered, raped, and more on October 7th. But what happens to the survivors, those who actually managed to stay alive? Is it at all likely they don’t have significant trauma and PTSD, nor even Survivor’s Guilt? Can they regain their trust and autonomy, and even find that spark that they had while celebrating the music prior to the attack?
This endeavor is incredible, and I’m in awe of two of my sisters-in-law Karin and Rikki for creating it. They’ve teamed up with numerous social workers and psychologists from Israel and America, to create a healthy, safe retreat, where those survivors gather and have a healing reunion. It’s a huge undertaking, and their security is of paramount importance. As you can imagine, if they are greeted by angry protesters or violence, this could cause more harm than good. So it needs to be done not only with security, but with extreme discretion of the timing and location.
What I can tell you is that it’s arranged and happening. It will be a week-long retreat. It’s open for any/all of the thousands of survivors from Nova to apply to join for free, with about 110 being screened by therapists who decided who should go, and I will not be disclosing more details than that until after it happens. At that point the press can safely report on all of it.
Karin and Rikki, who you will see on the website, have already helped raise over 80% of the money, from private efforts, but to help get them the rest of the way to cover the costs, please go to this link, read more, and consider a donation or at least sharing. Please note they are partnering with Artists 4 Israel (thank you Craig Dershowitz and Yaara Segal among others!), the non-profit that credits ME with helping bring into circulation their pro-Israel version of the IN THIS HOUSE WE BELIEVE signs. (They also put up the hostage mural in Culver City). In order to ensure this one time huge event has nonprofit status, your donation link will take you to the Artists 4 Israel website, where you would earmark the donation as for “Orot”.
The photo this week is fittingly of my sister-in-law Rikki, with my brother Zachary, and their son Amitai, visiting Israel in 2013.
On that note, it’s time for my latest Chosen Links…
1. I really value my new and yet old friendship with Sarah Tuttle-Singer. She went to school with Adi and my brother-in-law Adam. I’m aware that she’s part of LA’s past, but I’ve only known her as an American expatriate writing about her new Israeli homeland. And even though we have never met in person, she has given me a warm embrace, and encouragement in my writing, and educational endeavors. We speak about our children and exchange photos. And we worry about our lives as Jews, and write about it in our own creative ways. Although it isn’t one, I read this piece as if it was a poem. Of course I feel close to Sarah without ever actually meeting her. I’m Jewish:
2a. That tragic building that collapsed last week, where one IDF unit lost a whopping 21 soldiers in a day? What happens to the rest of the unit? They obviously are expected to “soldier on”, but does anyone really expect their brain, heart or soul to not feel broken?
There are so many tragedies during this, and any war, but if you forget to look after the mental health of those left behind, you are ignoring a large percentage of the injured population. My dear cousin Micki Lavin-Pell is using her trauma therapy training, and helping not only the soldiers as described here, but the families of those left behind:
2b. To see more about her specific efforts, and if you wish to help:
3. “In this two-part report, the U.S… documents how successive occupants of the Kremlin have exploited antisemitism for disinformation and propaganda purposes.” It gives multiple examples of antisemitic tactics being weaponized by Russia, and also provides a history lesson into past mistreatments of Jews.
This is extremely important research being released by the State Department. I strongly suggest you read this summary of their findings:
4. Salo Aizenberg from Honest Reporting, does yet another great service for everyone, by laying out the latest evidence that the Gaza death and injury tolls are bogus. First we knew they were being calculated by Hamas itself, with their Gaza Ministry of Health. Then it turned out that as of November, they are receiving all of their numbers from their own media reports. Not hospitals, but the media, which has no freedom of press under Hamas. And now, it turns out, that they have an even more unbelievable counting method. Should I give you a minute to guess? A Google form, for anyone to enter the info! In a country where almost everyone is a fighter or a human shield, and you are incentivized for numerous reasons to inflate the death toll…. Google. It’s almost funny.
Let’s do a logic puzzle for anyone who doesn’t see the fallacy in this method. Depressingly, vaccines are obviously a highly divisive issue, right? Imagine if all of the people in America could just enter data from deaths and injuries from a vaccine, and it required no verification from hospitals or anyone. (We do have a system to report numbers called VAERS, but they go through a verification process after, since all deaths are reported in hospitals and/or morgues). You don’t think the numbers would be inflated to an exponential degree, due to those with anti-vaccine sentiments? Trust me, there are far more in Gaza with anti-Israel sentiments than there are those in America who are anti-vaxx. So you do the easy logic puzzle. Just wow. Google. Western media, please stop reporting the numbers at anywhere close to face value:
5. This article is an incredible rundown, with great details and several examples of evidence, to the rot that has been festering inside the UNRWA. Supposedly an unbiased Palestinian refugee arm of the UN, Eitan Fischberger uncovered a HUGE story when he found the Telegram group of UNRWA teachers celebrating and assisting Hamas. He then looped in Hillel Neuer (the author of this article) and his UN Watch, which blew the lid off of this story, after their intense investigation into thousands of Telegram messages.
It goes so much further than supporting the terrorism, and more than indoctrinating the schools with Israel hatred. “UNRWA employees have held Israeli hostages captive in their homes, using UNRWA facilities to move them from place to place…UNRWA facilities are routinely used to conceal weapons…UNRWA resources have been used to build and supply Hamas attack tunnels, many of which are constructed underneath UNRWA facilities.” Trust me, I’m just giving you the tip of the iceberg, read this exposé:
6a. I love John Spencer’s work. He’s not Jewish, has no allegiance to Israel, he’s simply an American expert at combat. Here he gives piece after piece of evidence, how Israel is not only fighting a necessary war, but that they are taking UNPRECEDENTED measures to PREVENT harm to civilians.
“Use of real phone calls (19,734) to civilians in the combat areas, SMS texts (64,399) and pre-recorded calls (almost 6 million) to civilians to provide instructions on evacuations. No military has never done this in urban warfare history.” That’s just one of MANY examples he gives. Great thread:
6b. “To be clear, I am outraged by the civilian casualties in Gaza. But it’s crucial to direct that outrage at the right target. And that target is Hamas.” There’s no need to read both, this is basically John Spencer putting his thread into article form:
7a. Most of what Fern Reiss brings up here about UNRWA is discussed in other threads this week, but she still has such a great ability of putting all of the facts together into clear, quick hits, making this a great resource on the topic. With bursts of her Israel caustic humor “Maybe next time the world installs an aid organization we should entrench one without terrorist ties, just for novelty’s sake.”
7b. Fern gives insight into how the country is feeling, and it’s a dizzying up and down, over and over of highs and lows. When discussing Lebanon, “It’s looking increasingly likely that we will be in a war with Lebanon, soon. It won’t be fun, to put it mildly. Lebanon has many, many more missiles than Hamas, including very large and nasty ones. They are saying everyone should stock food and water…With bombs that can take out not just buildings, but entire neighborhoods. Pretty sure our shelters aren’t equipped for that.” Worrying indeed:
7c. Fern explains what makes hoping for a 2-state solution, as being pushed yet again, is not something she nor most Israelis can believe anymore. “Never mind that most of Gaza still supports Hamas. (Maybe you can’t believe polls of displaced people.) Never mind that most of the West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians also overwhelmingly still support Hamas. (Maybe they just don’t understand what they’re voting for..)” she tries to justify having this sort of peace, and just can’t find a way:
Fern gives her Sunday round-up, which is full of quick hits of news always worth reading, plus links to each one, which I love:
8a. Seth Frantzman brings up the Iranian strategy of attack and demand ceasefire. He explains this is what Hamas and Hezbollah do, but it all stems from Iran, and people still haven’t caught on. “Just waiting on the Houthis to do this, you realize that when their attacks finally cause casualties, the next day they will say “we have paused operations” and any attacks on them are “escalation” and “risk a wider war.” If you aren’t following Seth, you really should. He provides great insight:
8b. Seth writes this thread about the human rights agencies that continue to back Hamas with whatever they do. “You can also see how some suddenly embrace the Houthis the second they began targeting ships. They will shout about “no war in Yemen” but never seem to condemn Houthis for attacks. It’s transparent and systematic.” It’s a one-sided bias so obvious, that it’s almost laughable that it’s so widely ignored:
9a. Brianna Wu has been a great voice on the liberal side. I’ve seen her and several others I share, accused of being awful by the pro-Israel and the pro-Palestinian side. Each claims she is being too one-sided. Usually that’s a sign of trying to see and discuss things fairly, and that’s why I don’t just share views from one camp myself. I avoid the extremes, and I believe that there will always be reasonable views that don’t align with my own, and they are worth hearing so we don’t exist in our own echo chambers.
Here Brianna says she’s hopeful for a new deal for a ceasefire, but is highly skeptical it can work:
9b. Nice little thread from Brianna Wu, stating how ridiculous the sweeping statements are online that Hamas isn’t a terrorist organizations, and that Israel is.
9c. Brianna speaks up against Hamas supporters making death threats on the internet. Specifically Eve Barlow and Antony Blinken for standing behind Israel.
10. Lahav Harkov writes a top notch article about how the world knows but doesn’t know, and admits but is also in denial, about how Qatar plays both sides. They are both culpable to the actions of, and largely a solution to Hamas. Regarding a call to force them into forcing Hamas to return the hostages, “Only when the Qataris understand that their existence is on the line will they pressure Hamas, and then the hostages will come back by the busload. Why would Hamas do that for Qatar? Because Qatar is their lifeline. If there’s no Qatar, there’s no Hamas…The answer to the hostage problem, the end of the war, global terrorism is to stop the Al-Thani family (the ruling family of Qatar)”.
Heads up, there will be a pop-up that looks like a huge paywall, but it isn’t. Just x out of that pop-up in the upper right corner to keep reading this article:
11a. This is truly awful. Mike Freer, the Tory Member of Parliament for Finchley and Golders Green, has written a letter of resignation at the upcoming election. Why? Because of death threats to his family, arson to his office, and more. This is a proud, married, gay politician, who has a history of vocal support for Israel and Jews. After October 7, the intimidation and threats increased exponentially. When asked directly in the interview, he agreed this was most certainly related to antisemitism and his support for Israel.
The tweet by Darren Grimes is followed by a brief video interview between Freer and Douglas Murray:
11b. This article from just a month earlier, gives details on how bad things had gotten for him, though at that point in time he didn’t think he was going anywhere. Hannah Gillott reports:
12. Tabby Refael pours out her heart, as she does oh so well, and explains that she doesn’t see how to go back to writing about more trivial things, since October 7th. “Writing about people and issues that have nothing to do with the massacre, the rape, the hostages and the current war may run the risk of appearing tone-deaf, to say nothing of a sense of turning our backs on Israel, whether perceived or real.” She speaks to journalists Etgar Lefkovits and Sarah Tuttle-Singer, who help give her perspective:
13. I really like the semantic and linguistic way Marisa Douenias analyzes antisemitism, in this 2-part series. It’s main theme is “how social identity impacts antisemitism”. It teaches the theory, so you’ll get a nice lesson that climaxes with this important takeaway, “from a social science perspective, what starts with the Jews most certainly won’t end with the Jews, as social identity necessitates the continual forming of out-groups to maintain individual self-esteem”. Like I said, a totally different form of analysis:
14a. I had the honor of having a long conversation with Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib on the phone this week. We may come from different backgrounds, with different attitudes about the need for, and/or the methods of the IDF, but I’m incredibly impressed by Ahmed. I can’t imagine being in his shoes, and don’t even WANT to imagine such a thing. He lost literally dozens of family members in Gaza, and the fact that he’s not exclusively lashing out at Israel for doing so, but putting a massive amount of blame and hatred on Hamas, shows the magnitude of how much he bridged the gap between our “two sides”.
I’m honestly in awe of him for his constant struggle to see this complicated situation clearly, in spite of the tragedies to his family AND the hatred he receives online from both sides. Thank you my new friend, I wish everyone was as open-minded and resilient. Here he writes an important thread about how lousy the pro-Palestinian Western allies are, who continue to support Hamas and deny the truth of their heinous crimes:
14b. As a direct response in polite discourse to Ahmed, Ariel Sterman continues the interesting thread. “Westerners NEED to believe that October 7th didn’t happen for the story to fit into their Western Ideological Frameworks that pit the Palestinians as the underdog/victim and therefore always in the right.” Ariel then provides a somewhat interesting graphic, that takes you through the psychological stages of DABDA, as it plays out within the anti-Israel framework:
15. A boycott gone wrong! Jewish owned restaurants were targeted with posters for boycotts. They were so sloppy that they accidentally included a Palestinian owned restaurant! The Jewish community’s response? Encourage people to support that Palestinian restaurant. I love seeing when we rise above:
16. Barak Ravid reports on this new potential push from the US to recognize a state of Palestine. This appears to be changing the old policy of Palestinian statehood being dependent on Israel and the Palestinians having direct agreement.
But it’s hard to know what’s real. “A White House National Security Council spokesperson said it “has been long-standing U.S. policy that any recognition of a Palestinian state must come through direct negotiations between the parties rather than through unilateral recognition at the UN. That policy has not changed.” Who knows. But it’s hard to see this being a good idea if it’s real, until a Palestinian governmental body that’s not radicalized is in place:
17. Thomas Friedman, of the NY Times, as usual, doesn’t talk to Israelis about what’s practical, he just pushes the peace agenda with blinders on. Judea Pearl, who I had the pleasure of talking to last week, claps back with this response:
18. Yaari Cohen shares an article from The Independent , written by Tara Cobham, into this thread. The reason I’m preferring to share it here, is that I think it reads better without the triggering photos.
19. Shai Davidai has been a one-man Rambo at Columbia University, up against all odds; he continues to show what he’s seeing there. And it ain’t pretty. Here is his latest thread, showing videos and photos of protests that involve the usual screams for intifada, kicking out all of the Zionists in the school, and that Hamas is justified. I don’t understand his resilience, but I certainly applaud it:
20. I’ve been craving more of a deep dive into what TikTok is doing to contribute to antisemitism. The masses of people who are being influenced by it are innumerable. Times of Israel just released an article discussing it. “Identifying and removing content that promotes hate is notoriously difficult. “The question is: To what degree are they capable of removing content? That’s an open question, and they may not be able to. One of the biggest concerns about social media is that the technology has outpaced our ability to control it in a responsible way.” Will we ever get it under better control?
21. Shai Bazak gives a fascinating, comprehensive interview with Sari Makover-Belikov about the past, present and future of Israeli politics. So much ground is covered, as he used to be an advisor to Netanyahu, many elections ago. Among things said here, he feels Bibi made a huge mistake not owning the responsibility for October 7, says it’s inevitable that there will be new elections very soon, and says that the relationship with the United States is more important than most Israelis let on.
“People who say, ‘Who needs the Americans, we can manage very well without them,’ do not understand at all the meaning of the alliance with the United States…They send us hundreds of airplanes full of ammunition and spare parts. They put all the weight of their influence on the heads of the countries that are hostile to Israel, they exercise their right of veto in the UN and prevent other countries from attacking us…Without the United States, our military power, to put it carefully, would be infinitely smaller. it’s not just ammunition, developments, intelligence and critical collaborations. It is also standing by our side in international processes.” There was so much here that it was hard for me to choose just those passages:
22. Hussain Abdul-Hussain posts about how badly the state of Israel would fail if it was taken over as Palestine. Dave Weisberger, a career expert in market trading and algorithms, chimes in and further answers from an economic perspective. “Without oil money, Israel has built water desalination, innovative food & energy production, construction & transit infrastructure & the 2nd largest tech hub in the world to create a vibrant economy with high living standards (including for 2 million Muslim citizens).” Absolutely:
23. Tamer Masudin is an Bedouin Israeli Arab, who speaks up about Israel. He simplifies what’s happened so far since October 7, for the many who keep twisting the narrative:
24. Thane Rosenbaum is consistently in my Chosen Links, because his writing is always, in my opinion, relevant, to the point, and reasonable. He writes about the Israeli identity being connected to the service every Israeli gives to the country, usually via the IDF. “In the 1950s, images of Israeli women in uniform confounded the bland domesticity of Eisenhower’s placid America. American women were discovering how all those dazzlingly new kitchen appliances worked; Israeli sabras were toting Uzi submachine guns when not planting olive trees and orange groves.”
25. Dan Schnur gives us reason to pause and remember the voting record of the “temporary” replacement of Diane Feinstein. Laphonza Butler has had a few opportunities to affect policy on Israel since October 7, and it hasn’t been pretty. “Butler was one of a handful of Senators to announce their support for making U.S. military aid to Israel conditional on Israel’s willingness to adhere to American preferences on how to prosecute the war in Gaza…Butler has also voted for a less popular bill that, if passed, would have required the Biden Administration to launch an investigation into alleged human rights violations by Israel.” While she isn’t in “Squad” level territory yet, with her Israel rhetoric, it isn’t that far off unfortunately:
1. This is cool for more reasons than you can guess. Yes it’s awesome that Ahmad4ISRL, a former member of Hamas, was having a lovely dinner with an Israeli family. And this video from comedian Ben Gleib is a wonderful testament to that. But what’s extra special is who personally sent me this video. Ahmad messaged me, because on Shabbat day my own family had the pleasure of hosting him ourselves. Surreal but true, and he is amazing. Will write about that more fully another day:
2. This is not a typical share from me, a speech from a Rabbi, but this is no ordinary speech, nor just any Rabbi. This is the Chief Rabbi of South Africa giving an impassioned, and rousing speech, about the injustice of the farcical ICJ trial and verdict. It reminds me of the iconic (fictional) speech at the end of Independence Day, when the president says, “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!”
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein explains how the Jewish community was supportive of the efforts to end segregation there, and contribute disproportionately to the infrastructure of their country. He insists that most South Africans are not fairly represented by this case, and that there are suspicious things that will come to light about their country receiving money from suspicious foreign interests. Specifically that ICJ application was started after Iran gave them money in exchange for clearing debts. As I said, far more than your usual speech by a religious authority:
3. Daniel-Ryan Spaulding putting up with the intolerance online, and reiterating all the times he’s said that getting rid of Hamas is good for Israel AND the Palestinians:
4. Biggah, aka @Wyzewurdz74 (on Instagram) continues to stand up against anti-Israel hatred, and be a strong voice of calm explanation. He’s sick of the black and people of color community being exploited by the pro-Palestinian movement, when we should clearly be on the same side, since Israel is the one “side” that actually fights for social justice:
5. Jake Tapper interviews Marcus Sheff about not only the prevalence of antisemitic and anti Israel material taught by UNRWA to Palestinians, but the resulting impact of it. It’s not just history that’s taught with bias and hatred, it’s literally every subject from math to science. How can you NOT grow up hating Israel, it’s built into your subconscious:
6. Eylon Levy gives a full debriefing on all of the intel Israel has on UNRWA. It’s endless, and damning. And he speaks well as always:
7. UNRWA explained excellently by Dani Buller. The UNHCR already exists to actually help refugees around the world, but for some reason the UN feels that the Palestinians need their own separate organization just for them. The number of refugees goes down over the years everywhere else, as it should. But Palestinians are seen as refugees even as they have citizenship in other countries. He uses the famous Hadid family as a prime example of the ridiculousness of this setup:
8a. Hillel Neuer from UN Watch, gets interviewed by Jake Tapper about the UNRWA scandal that Neuer helped break. These two men talking, have both made huge impacts on getting the truth out there, the last few months. Jake’s big question for Hillel is about what would happen if UNRWA was ended right now. He brings up repeated critiques from Jordan, which Hillel pokes holes in. Can’t go wrong watching these two discuss:
8b. Here Hillel gives another good interview on the topic, this time with Bianna Golodryga. No need to watch both as there’s lots of redundancy, but it’s another good one:
8c. Want to watch the actual testimony that Hillel gave this week? It’s not particularly long, and he does a great job. A big takeaway is that the underlying message of UNRWA, is to ensure that the Palestinians never accept that 1948 happened. They are always refugees, always fighting for their land that Israel wrongly occupied. That’s their theme:
Holy cow, I knew this was going to be a nice pro-Israel interview, but I had no clue how amazing it would be! Nate/Nathaniel Buzolic is a good looking, young, Christian actor, who I used to watch on the silly show Vampire Diaries. He’s interviewed by Australian TV about his Israel advocacy, and he knows the facts and how to communicate them as well or better than most talking heads for the Middle East.
He has visited Israel DOZENS of times. He grew up in a largely Muslim community of Australia, and naturally had a very negative view of Israel most of his life. He talks about the Jewish communities he met in Australia and Israel. He talks about the kibbutzim, the hostages, Hamas, the terror tunnels, and a great history of Jews being attacked in Israel before they were even in power. I’m so impressed by this young, Christian actor, who’s not afraid to take on the hatred he’s getting from the pro Palestinian movement as a result:
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
Refer to my main story about Orot:
ON A LIGHTER NOTE:
1. This is quite funny. Roi Harel puts on this ridiculous sketch, pretending to be Hamas. As always just watch and enjoy; humor is always best without explanation:
2. We love watching Cobra Kai, and one of the actors is Persian Jewish comedian Dan Ahdoot. Here’s a cute bit about the pro-Palestinian slogans versus ours: https://www.instagram.com/reel/C2c0E44uU-Y/
3. Oh, snap! Clever little fake conversation between antisemites, created by funny satiric site The Mossad:
4b. And another thanks to the Daily Brine…
5. Hanan Isakson recently filmed the IDF version of the Friends theme song. This time he creatively got soldiers to do the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace:
6. An amusing sketch about UNRWA, by Israel’s satirical show Eretz Nehederet:
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
1. This is almost in my humor section, but since it’s unintentional dark comedy, I’ll put it here. This antisemitic, conspiracy theory driven person, has revealed a truly sinister proof that we Jews really DO control the world: JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIAS!
That’s right, the world famous Encyclopedia Judaica is a large book that only Jews know about. Uh oh!
Life is about learning when to cry, and when to just give up and laugh:
2. I like what the ADL did here. They took the completely tepid statement by the UN, which was more than they had said in months, and showed how much it was still lacking:
3. Aviva Klompas has been a strong voice for information throughout the war, and here I see for the first time a photo of Emily Hand holding up her own poster, that was torn down from so many thoughtless haters:
4. Khaled Hassan points out that all it takes to troll him, and try to discredit him, is someone announcing that he converted and is now a Jew. Yep, it’s a bad word:
WHAT I’M ENJOYING THIS WEEK:
I’m starting to excitedly binge the most recent season of Rick And Morty, but first I stumbled across an adult-animation show on Amazon Prime, and it was glorious. Hazbin Hotel makes no sense, and shouldn’t work, but it does SO well. The animation feels incongruous to the content. It feels like you’re watching an old fashioned kid’s cartoon, with a rudimentary style, including old-fashioned voice talents, but the plot is about the Princess of Hell trying to get redemption for damned souls, and Rated R content. Oh, and did I mention it’s a musical? Really damn good.
Boaz Hepner works as a Registered Nurse in Saint John’s Health Center. He moonlights as a columnist, where his focuses are on health, and Israel, including his Chosen Links section of the Journal. He is a Pico/Robertson native, and lives here with his wife Adi, and children Natalia and Liam. He can be found with his family enjoying his passions: his multitude of friends, movies, poker and traveling.