November 8, 2023

The Lexicon, and More

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Dear Federation and Community Leaders,

I’ve been doing a lot of briefings and meetings around the community these past few weeks, and I’m using some terms that I created to be helpful in making sure that we’re all understanding the same phenomena. I’ve been asked by quite a few people to share the main ones that I’m using most frequently:

#Haterippers are kidnap-excusing sociopaths who tear down ads of kidnapped Jews.

#Deflectosaurs are whataboutists, who say “what about Palestine?” when confronted with evidence of Hamas massacres.

#Bundlesignalers are people who see evidence of murdered, raped, and kidnapped Jews, and make statements about how bad Islamophobia and Antisemitism and hate are. (See also “All Lives Matter.”)

#Cherrypickers are people who demand that women should be listened to, especially in cases of rape, abuse, or harassment, but not Jewish women mass-raped and tortured when it doesn’t fit their political narrative. (See also “denialists,” “NotMeToo-ers,” “Selective Outragers”.)

There are, unfortunately, a lot more terms. I’ll add some more at some point. Our friends at AJC published a very good glossary of Jew-hating terms a couple of years ago. It’s not a particularly fun read, but it is important and necessary. Publicly calling out Jew-hate is important: it’s necessary to show that this kind of behavior is unacceptable, and there should be a price to be paid for promoting Jew-hate.

A quick but hearty mazal tov to the 550+ participants who attended yesterday’s 10th anniversary Quest for Teaching Excellence Conference. The conference is an investment in our cherished community educators, and honors the investment and vision of Paula and Jerry (z”l)Gottesman. I’m grateful to my colleagues Aliza Weinstock, Gerri Russo, and Rebecca Hindin, and to the dedication of dozens of Federation professionals who staffed the stalls, events, meetings, and spaces. I’m especially thankful for the Greater MetroWest Day School Council leadership, Jewish Community Foundation leaders, and our Day Schools administration(s), faculty, and teaching staff. As I told them at the beginning of the day, “the antidote to Jewish hate is Jewish pride. And Jewish pride begins with Jewish education.”

Anyway, as the second month of the war begins, the IDF has struck more than 14,000 targets in the Gaza Strip, destroyed over 100 tunnel entrances, and captured 4,000 weapons — including rockets — hidden in civilian infrastructure, since fighting began. It is confirmed that 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground offensive began, and that 240 hostages are still being held by Hamas in Gaza. During a call with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden called for a humanitarian “pause in fighting.” Netanyahu has said that there will be no ceasefire of any kind before the hostages are released; however, he has added that short term pauses for humanitarian reasons will continue.

Israel Defense Forces Operations
The ground operation continues in full force. In its attacks overnight, the IDF killed Mohsen Abu Zina, Hamas’ Head of Weapons and Industries in its manufacturing department. See video footage here and photos here, of IDF activity in Gaza yesterday. Read comments made by the general overseeing the war in Gaza, the IDF’s Head of Southern Command, here.

The IDF has confirmed that 32 soldiers have been killed in the battles in Gaza, and 240 people remain hostages. See an official IDF page (in Hebrew) listing all those who have fallen since October 7, with photos and details, here; and more on the latest fighting here. Yesterday, the Paratroopers Brigade led an operation in northern Gaza, during which the soldiers completed taking control of the area. During the mission, soldiers exposed and then destroyed the shaft of an underground tunnel adjacent to an amusement park. In addition, in cooperation with soldiers of the Armored Corps, an underground tunnel shaft and a weapons warehouse were found near a university, containing chemical materials, RPGs, Claymore mines and more. See video here and here, and the destruction of tunnels discovered here.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday the IDF has been reaching deeper into Gaza “than Hamas ever imagined,” and said that the terror group “is discovering that we are reaching places they thought we would never reach.” Netanyahu also warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group that it would be making the “greatest mistake of its life” if it opens a new full-on war front. See Netanyahu’s full remarks here. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant added that the IDF was now operating “in the heart” of Gaza City and “tightening the noose” around Hamas there.

Israel again opened a humanitarian corridor to allow those civilians who have remained in the north of Gaza to escape to the southern part of the Strip. Israel continues to urge Gazans to head to the south of the enclave, as close to 900,000 have already done.  Thousands of additional residents of the north also made the journey yesterday, many of them waving white flags, as they passed through the evacuation corridor, with Israeli tanks protecting them from Hamas attacks (Hamas is trying to prevent civilians from leaving). See images and details here, and video footage here. Israel says that there is no lack of food, water, or other humanitarian supplies in Gaza, and that inventories of critical supplies are being monitored on a daily basis. See more here. Read here about how Hamas is using hospitals in Gaza to hide troops, weapons and more.

The Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry says that over 10,300 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, as a result of the war. Hezbollah says that 63 of its fighters have been killed on the northern front.

The Home Front
Israel marked one month since the October 7 massacres yesterday. Read here about some of the events held in Israel, and here about how the date was observed by North American Jewish communities. Listen here to episodes of Wartime Diaries to hear the voices and stories of victims, heroes and many others, since October 7. Read here about May Hayat’s journey back to the site of the Rave, where she worked at the bar, one month after the massacre that took place there. Trained to analyze ancient sites, Israel’s archaeologists are helping locate victims among kibbutz ashes. Read more here. Watch these survivor stories from October 7.

The level of rocket fire from Gaza remains low, although there has been least one major barrage per day, sending millions to their shelters, and exposing them to the very loud iron dome interceptions above major cities. Once again, Tel Aviv and the country’s center were targeted yesterday. In the North, Hezbollah has continued its medium-intensity attacks across the border, without expanding itsd attacks significantly, while the IDF strikes at cells and the sources of fire.

International Response
G7 foreign ministers, representing the most powerful western countries, are seeking to hammer out a common line on the war during their meeting in Tokyo. The ministers are expected to call in a joint statement for “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza, while stopping short of urging a ceasefire.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden called for a similar humanitarian “pause in fighting,” during a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has said that there will be no ceasefire of any kind before the hostages are released, but has added that short term pauses for humanitarian reasons will continue. Israel fears that Hamas would try to use any long pause to regroup.

Meanwhile, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog spoke by phone with US Vice President Kamala Harris about the war in Israel and the rise in anti-Semitism. Herzog said that “the immediate and unconditional return of the abductees is the main concern of the State of Israel,” and that there will be no ceasefire without the release of the abductees held by Hamas.

President Herzog also wrote a letter to the presidents of American universities. In his letter, he asked for them to condemn the acts of terrorism by Hamas in a clear and unequivocal way; told them that this is a conflict between freedom and the forces of evil; suggested that this is a “teaching moment” that moves us either “toward constructive action or…irreversible decline.” And he reminded them that they are “custodians of knowledge and culture” whose decisions will “shape history and be remembered.”

Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog showed some of the graphic body camera footage from the October 7 Hamas massacres to a group of fellow ambassadors and foreign diplomats, during an event at Israel’s Embassy in Washington commemorating 30 days since the attacks. Ambassador Herzog said, “This was one of the worst terror attacks in modern history and the single deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. Every nation and human being must draw a line between those who uphold the values of humanity and those who desecrate them, and sound a clear moral voice. Israel has the right and the duty to defend itself and remove the Hamas threat while fighting for the unconditional release of each and every hostage. We will not rest until we bring them back home.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and new US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew held their first official meeting yesterday, and discussed efforts to obtain the release of the hostages, maintaining regional peace, and the continued fight against Iran and its proxies.

With an unprecedented spike in antisemitic incidents across the world, Israel’s Ministry of Aliya is seeing large increases in enquiries about Aliya (Jewish people immigrating to Israel). According to the Ministry, since October 7 there has been a 149% increase in enquiries from France and an 81% increase from North America.

Efforts on the Ground
Israelis of all stripes have come together to support soldiers and bolster morale in the country, many sharing inspiring tales.

  • Watch this video of a bus that travels from base to base, repairing army uniforms and equipment for soldiers.
  • Another new IDF trend: With Houthi rebels firing rockets at Israel, some soldiers have joked that they may end up fighting in Yemen. As a result, multiple videos are circulating of soldiers doing traditional Yemenite dances. (See, for example, here).
  • An Israeli tech executive passionately answers Irish tech icon Paddy Cosgrove’s criticism of Israel in this eye-opening video.

Additional Background

With prayers for peace and healing,

Chief Executive Officer