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I was wrong when I said that the police would never water-cannon the families of hostages

The hostage families are on a four day march, and they need support
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One doesn’t need to be a genius to imagine what we speak about in these parts, at the Shabbat table, over dinner with friends, drinks with other friends. It’s 95% October 7, the war, our kids in the army, who’s in, who’s out, who’s recovering. Who’s dead. Occasionally, of course, we find that the conversation has meandered to something else, and we always end up saying, “Wow, that was nice. Something else.”

It’s doesn’t happen all that often, though.

For months, already, as we’ve spoken about the brewing political crises that this government faces and the protests that are likely to grip the streets again (it’s starting, but just barely, so far), I’d said, time and time again, “if the leaders of the protest movement are smart, they’ll position hostage families on the perimeters of the protests. Because, obviously, the police can’t water-cannon families of hostages.”

I was completely wrong.

We’ll come back to that.


Before we get there, though, a brief word on a brewing coalition crisis that could possibly bring the government down.

Here’s a Google translated screenshot of YNet on Thursday.

We’ll have much more about that next Tuesday, but this is all a bit complicated, so for a brief explanation of what’s happening, we turned to Yaakov Katz, Senior Fellow of the Jewish People Policy Institute, former Editor in Chief of the Jerusalem Post, and author of several excellent books, including Shadow Strike: Inside Israel's Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power and The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower.

I asked Yaakov to explain, very briefly, what this crisis over the draft law is all about, what has changed in the past few days, and how it’s likely to play out. Here’s what he had to say:

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Again, we’ll have more on this next week.


Back to the hostages and their families …

Turns out, as this article from Times of Israel, screenshot above, makes clear, the police were willing to water-cannon not only families of hostages, but former hostages themselves. The police, of course, are under the command of Itamar Ben-Gvir.

I read the articles in the press earlier this week about those incidents, and grimaced, but I didn’t give them sufficient thought. It was only on Wednesday night, when I attended a panel that included Jacky Levy, a leading Israeli performer, radio and TV personality, writer, comic and much more, who happens to have had two family members murdered on October 7 and has three more being held captive.

Levy said, on Wednesday night at the conference of the “People of Faith, of the Left” (he made a point of saying that he wasn’t of the left, but he appreciates the sort of religious faith that the group represents, so he attended and agreed to speak) that Netanyahu has succeeded in changing the discourse about October 7th. “You can’t eke victory from a catastrophe or a pogrom,” Levy said. “All you can do is try to recover from it.” And that’s not for for Netanyahu, who desperately needs to resurrect his public persona and political support.

So Bibi has fashioned a discourse around October 7th, argued Levy, which focuses not on catastrophe and Holocaust-like victimhood (which is what it was, obviously), but rather, as an armed attack which needs to be repelled and the enemy defeated. By fashioning the discourse as being about war, not loss, “victory” is a concept that makes sense.

AND, said Levy, when one thinks about October 7th not as trauma but as a military issue, then (a) suddenly one can recover from it, and (b) anyone who undermines the country’s attempts to achieve victory becomes the enemy. And thus, he said, the families of the hostages, when they insist that the country owes it to the people it abandoned to do whatever it takes to get them back, have become the enemy of the country.

When you’re the enemy, you get water-cannoned. His relatives, Levy said, who attend protests all over the country in support of a deal to get the hostages back, are routinely yelled at and even spit at.

Lovely.

Given the shifting discourse about the hostages and their families, we’re taking today to focus on their march, taking place right now, rather than the subject that we’d planned (to which we might return down the road).

More on the march and how one can support the hostage families, below.


Israelis are facing an unfolding crisis, but also an important opportunity to rebuild. 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.


One of the hostages, who lives in our part of town and whose parents are members of the synagogue we attend, is Hersh Goldberg-Polin. His mom has been on the cover of TIME Magazine, they’ve met with Biden and have been traveling the world trying to get support for a deal.

Mother of a Gaza hostage on keeping faith after Oct. 7: 'It doesn't make  sense. And I still believe.' | America Magazine

So today, given how some of the country is turning its back on the hostages and their families, we’re reminding our readers who are so inclined what they can do to help.

If you’re Israeli, here’s Hersh’s father, on what you can do.

And if you’re American, here’s Hersh’s mother, on what you can do.


134 is not a number. It’s a world of shattered families, endless heartbreak and unimaginable horror.

That’s why lots of the signs no longer say “Bring them home,” but rather, as on this sign that I saw walking home today, “Get them out of Hell.”

Even if you don’t speak Hebrew, take a look at this website and scroll a bit. They deserve it.


And for some good news on the hostages front, this just in from the Genesis Prize.


We’ll conclude with this:

We’ve shared this video before, but it’s still chilling, and nothing could be more apt as thousands march in a desperate effort to save the hostages. If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it. And if you have seen it, you should watch it.


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Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside is for people who want to understand Israel with nuance, who believe that Israel is neither hopelessly flawed and illegitimate, nor beyond critique. If thoughtful analysis of Israel and its people interests you, welcome!