Quick notes on what follows:
A brief summary of what people are talking about here
A look at (perhaps?) shifting attitudes to the army in the Haredi community
The painful struggles of the Israeli Arab community, as expressed in the video above (make sure you watch the last few seconds, too). The woman on the right, in the burgundy jacket is the Israeli Arab woman … she has no access at all, so you might realize that it’s her. Her name is Nasrin Ibrahim.
And finally, the stories of intelligence that was gathered, that was passed on to the higher levels, that warned that something big was about to happen—only to be ignored. One Israeli soldier at a lookout post saw, knew what she was seeing, said it—and was brushed off. Her story is in the video at the very bottom.
WHERE ARE WE?
With the shock of the initial news now turning into numbness, the grim slog of war (and impending war) is beginning to hang here like a different sort of cloud. What does one hear and see?
The government is simply not functioning. All the serious relief and support efforts (for families of the captives, for families of the dead, families of the wounded, families who were rescued from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs) are being conducted by volunteers. The Jerusalem Command Center, created out of nothing in the past week and a half, has 3,000 volunteers working by shifts, because the building can only contain 1,000 people. We visited there yesterday and will share insights from it soon.
The political leadership is nowhere to be found. Bibi & Co. met with families of the captives, have visited a few wounded people, etc. but are staying away from funerals, crowds, etc. They know that they’d be boo’ed out. And what about those who were taking up all the oxygen in “the world that was”? Anyone seen Smotrich of late? Ben-Gvir (other than his promise to get guns to the border villages)? Or Amichai Chikli, who in “the world that was” reminded us time and again that we really didn’t need America? (Oops.) They’re nowhere.
Where are the apologies, the taking of responsibility? A few lone souls have begun to step up, to stare the public in the eye and take responsibility.
Same with Education Minister Yoav Kisch:
But Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi (there seems to be no national consensus about how to spell his name in English) lashed out at suggestions that the government ought to apologize (Google-generated translation):
Oh, and as for that war we were fighting? There are 370,000 reservists called up. The economy is all but shut down. And it seemed that a ground invasion is imminent. But where is it? Is Bibi waiting for after the Biden visit? Or does he heating up of the northern border make him nervous about two fronts? Or three if the West Bank explodes? Or four if Syria/Iran gets into it? Is Bibi getting cold feet? Would he dare not destroy Hamas? This country will explode in fury.
Those American aircraft carriers, and the 2,000 American soldiers headed here? You’d think that Israeli would be grateful. They are. You’d think that they’d be pleased. They’re not. Because this is the first time that Israeli has apparently hesitated militarily because it feels itself outgunned. Who waited for the US in 1967, people are asking? Even in 1973, when the US held up aid which we needed, did we hold back on the fighting? What’s happened to us, people are asking. Can we really not defend ourselves anymore? How did we get here? Having been in power, almost uninterrupted, for decades, may suddenly not be an advantage for Bibi.
Today, quick looks at dynamics with Israeli Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox.
Let’s start with the ultra-Orthodox. Some time ago, in “the world that was,” we posted something the splits in Israeli society, including this video of Haredi Jews taunting a soldier on a train.
We’re revisiting it here to illustrate the dramatic change that has taken over the Haredi community since the war began. First, that old video, which was filmed just a couple of months ago:
That was then. Now, see below, as a group of Haredi men tie tzitzit on Israeli army uniforms, for soldiers who want them. Now, you might well think that ceramic vests and head lamps for helmets (both of which we’re short of but catching up on) are more important. Many would agree with you, but that’s not the issue.
What matters is the changed attitude. Can you see any of these men doing this, and then taunting a soldier as those kids above taunted her?
Israelis are facing an unfolding horror. If you would like to share our conversation about what they are feeling and what is happening that the English press can’t cover, please subscribe today.
And look at this post, with the accompanying photo. The text of the post follows immediately below.
Update—I'm in tears from the number of shares. I have added a link to the form at the end of the post, which is welcome to be filled out by anyone we can help.
This is what the "Iron Sisters" community center for Haredi women looks like (which, by the way, is located inside a wig shop that donated the space), and this is one of the things that has kept me from falling into the abyss for the last few days.
Just a week ago, I wrote to an ultra-Orthodox company a message that went something like, “Haredi women, most of whom do not send their husbands to the reserves, have an opportunity to be hired now en masse for the common good" and since that message we all sprang into action, and I remain speechless at the rate of progress.
Today there are around 150 neighborhood coordinators and over 1,000 female volunteers throughout the country. I connected them with local war/ operations rooms and local, civil initiatives of all kinds that are now popping up everywhere and are doing amazing work. On Thursday they cooked Shabbat meals for 320 families in Jerusalem. Today, among other things, they found guest apartments in Haredi neighborhoods for dozens of families, they came to comfort those at funerals and those sitting shiva, cooked 400 meals for soldiers, they came to various hotels to play with the children who were evacuated from their homes, and cooked dozens of meals for evacuee families.
And now they want to reach women all over the country (women in families who have been evacuees, wounded, murdered, reservists) who need assistance cooking, help with the children, a sympathetic ear and anything else. The goal is to match each family from the pool of volunteers who will accompany and assist over time in whatever they need.
Who can help me spread the initiative in women's Facebook groups and WhatsApp groups throughout the country? I am attaching the flyer and the registration form. If politicians have been busy for years inciting hatred and division, we will create the change. Politicians, don’t get in our way.
My sister—I am calling you. If you need help due to the war, fill out the form in the link, and one of the "Iron Sisters" will connect you personally to sisters who are waiting to lend you a hand.
Does this mean that the Haredi issue is about to be solved? Obviously not. What it does mean in that this very broken, hurting, angry, devastated and frightened country, there is an opportunity for profound healing and unity—if the right leaders can be found.
That, of course, is far from assured.
Then there is the pain of Israeli Arabs, who are as in as much danger as we are, are always suspected of being a fifth column (don’t forget the riots of May 2021, which was what actually prompted us to launch Israel from the Inside), and who know that they have real family on the other side of the Gaza border.
For now, Nasrin Ibrahim in the video above says all we need to know.
And as for the lookout soldiers who had their intelligence brushed aside? The woman who tells her story here was lucky—she’s alive to tell it. Some of these soldiers, not surprisingly positioned along the border, are not here to tell their story. They are either dead, or in captivity.
But here is the testimony of one woman who is telling her story. In the second half of the video (we’ve of course provided subtitles), her voice is masked not by us, but by the media, at her request: