Not since the Holocaust have this many Jews been killed in a single day

This has become a war. But it started out as a Pogrom.

These are the Jews of Khodorkov, immediately after a pogrom.

These are the sorts of pictures that fueled the creation of Zionism. These pictures are what having a Jewish state was supposed to end. Having a state of our own was meant to ensure never again would we be lined up and shot, killed in mass graves, children ripped from screaming parents, Jewish blood cheaper than tap water.

It didn’t work.

Photos courtesy National Library of Israel (reprinted with permission)

No, this week at least, it didn’t work. On Shabbat and on Sunday, Israelis were subjected to precisely what the Jews of Europe were subjected to in pogroms. Like those pogroms, this was one was orchestrated by the leadership. Like in those pogroms, the sheer joy of killing Jews became orgiastic.

This was the pogrom of 2023. Hamas came in by the hundreds, perhaps thousands (even that we don’t know) to kill Jews. To shoot at Jewish babies and fire into their heads, point blank. To take young Jewish women from a music festival, strip them naked, kill them and mutilate them, and then drive their bodies around Gaza’s streets in an open pickup truck.

Do not ever again, ever, distinguish between Gazans and Hamas. This was bloodthirstiness not of the leaders, who of course stayed home and hidden, but of the masses. Of the teenagers, and the men in their twenties, and their thirties, and their forties, who came to kill. And to torch. And to maim. And to sing—yes, literally to sing, as survivors are reporting—as they were doing the butchering.

The IDF, at this writing on Monday afternoon in Israel, still does not have all of Israel rid of the infiltrators. The magnitude of the military failure is unspeakable. Eventually, Israel will get to that. This will be a political earthquake, and Israel will never be the same.

In the meantime, there are more urgent matters to deal with. People are still looking for their kids, searching for their spouses, still waiting for the government to produce a list of who’s been taken hostage.

There’s no sign of Bibi, or Herzi, or Gallant, or Ben Gvir. The bravado is all gone, and so are they. Israelis know every single one of the faces below. The cartoon didn’t need a single word as a caption.

Cartoon via numerous social media sources

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Today, the retaking Israeli territory is mostly done, the shock has lifted, and slowly, the stories are beginning to emerge. Stories of what people went through, what they are still going through. The video at the very top of this page, which has gone viral in Israel, is almost too painful to watch. It’s just two people speaking—no gore, no bad pictures—but it’s heartbreaking nonetheless.

But you should force yourself to watch it. Because if she could live through it, we can at least watch it.

Here is what follows below:

  • a few examples of social medial posts that Israelis are uploading. You have to read the very few words with care to get the full sense of what horror that lies behind the posting.

  • Then, a video of a man lightly wounded, who wants to know just one thing: where was the army, where were the planes? When a grown man cries in rage and then almost tries to hide under the blanket, you know something deep has broken.

  • And then, one video to dramatically lift your spirits.

In the absence of a government, the people are making this work.

The army is getting it together, ground forces are gathering, and lines of armor are being to assemble in the streets. The soldiers know they may well be headed into an unimaginable hell, and so do the citizens.

So watch the video of what the citizens are doing. That video, plus the one at the top, are the two sides of what is shaking and shaping a country in which only two things are certain:

  • Israel will win.

  • Israel will never be the same.

Now that the stories are beginning to get out, social media is getting too painful to view. So we’re including just two examples of the many hundreds that are out there.

Read the words carefully, and you get a slight sense of the horror behind the simple posts.

Here’s another.

Today is not the day for politics. The cartoon above says all that needs to be said. What the people want is a sense that someone is in charge. People have been pleading for an emergency government at least for 36 hours. The leadership is “considering” it.

In the meantime, the “leadership” would do well to listen. Because this is what people are feeling now:

Ein li eretz acheret: I have no other country

It’s the name of a famous song, which we’ve long been planning to write about in a column. Now, I guess, we’ll get to it. Anyway, that’s the music in the background.

Watch the video once, then take a look at the details we’ve listed below, and watch it again, if you’re so inclined.

  • 0:01 — Sign says “Freshening up stand for soldiers; FREE, with love and concern”

  • 0:16 — Making the sandwiches for the soldiers; once they get to battle, they won’t have much time for slicing bread

  • 0:25 — that flag, which we’ve seen so much of in recent months, with an entirely different aura about it

  • 1:12 — citizen running to pass a flag off to the soldier to take into battle

  • 1:15 — girl in the maroon shirt is holding a sign that says “Together, we will win”

Israel was slaughtered this week. Slaughtered. European style pogroms returned to Jewish life. Still, though, it’s different. The army failed, but it’s here. The government failed, but the country exists.

Lives have been lost. Families have been wiped out. Thousands and thousands will carry grief with them for the rest of the century.

But at the end of the century, I pray, we’ll be here. Stronger, I hope, not despite what was just done to us, but, ironically, perhaps our enemies just reminded us why Zionism was created in the first place.

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