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Over the weekend I read an article which filled me with both profound sadness as well as renewed hope. It also transformed my understanding of recent events, putting them into a context that I had not understood until the very moment the author pointed it out to me, and then, at once, I felt the “aah” of deep connection.

The author of this piece is Yair Agmon, a multi-talented writer, director, and film maker. He is also a columnist. Each week, I meet him on the pages of Makor Rishon, a National Religious Zionist weekly paper, despite the fact that he is a self-confessed atheist. But I don’t class people like recipes: meat, dairy, vegetarian. Whenever I read Yair, I find our minds and our souls are on the same wavelength.

Yair’s column this week started out with a description of a trip in high school to Auschwitz: “I remember standing opposite the crematoria, the train tracks, and the gas chambers with two emotions: On the one hand, I cried, I hurt, I was full of pain and regrets and longing. But on the other, I thought: ‘Wow, such luck this isn’t my story; that this nightmare is behind me. What luck that I and my children will live in a different reality where it isn’t possible to murder Jews with such ease.’”

For Yair, and for many Israelis, and no doubt many Jews who were far removed physically from the Gaza Envelope, October 7 changed all that. “The story collapsed in front of my eyes.” Yair’s sister, who lives in in Moshav Amiozthe in Gaza Envelope, right up to the boundary fence with Gaza, found herself locked helplessly in her bomb shelter with her family: “For two days without food or water. Two days! And no one came to save her,” Agmon writes, doing so, he tells us, “with shaking hands.” She escaped, miraculously, even as neighboring moshavim and army bases were overrun by terrorists. “Dark forces of evil, the Nazis of our day, crossed over the fence and turned our country into a killing pit, murdering and kidnapping soldiers and civilians.

The promise of Zionism, writes Agmon, in which all of us live, had one clear and simple purpose: to let us live as free people in our own land, an independent nation upon which no other nation or terrorist group could impose misery or slavery or death. “This promise allowed me to have children, whom I wouldn’t have brought into a world  where monsters can cross fences and murder children and old people; a world in which the Israel Defense Forces, who are there to defend the Jewish people in the land of Israel, takes two days to rescue my sister.”

And yet, despite it all – all the pain, outrage, and humiliation of having part of the land of Israel taken over by the most evil and degraded of men who raped and murdered and burned our babies in their cradles, and senselessly slaughtered young people at a dance party “at that very time, during those very hours, another story was happening as well.”

Agmon and a close friend decided to gather together amazing stories of heroism that happened on that day as well. Within twenty-four hours of searching out such stories, they came up with 250 amazing tales that Agmon turned into a book: One Day In October cowritten with Oriyah Mevorach. Another book on the same subject is:A War of Heroes by Hadassah Ben Ari. Both are in Hebrew, but let’s hope they will be translated.

“Yes, on the seventh of October the land of Israel fell apart in front of our eyes. The Zionist project failed. The land of the Jews did not succeed in protecting its inhabitants. This much is true. But – and this is a very important but— within that collapse heroes and heroines arose, by the hundreds and thousands” who pressed forward into the maelstrom, volunteering with private initiatives, knowingly endangering their lives to save those of their countrymen. “They had guns. They had ammunition. They had the courage of lions, of partisans, of Israeli…

“The day that the Zionist project was defeated, was also the day we realized it had succeeded. Even when our army fails, and our government is falling apart, there are fearless fighters amongst us who go forward. Our most Jewish day, turned out to be our most Israeli day too.”

Right after I read this column, I read the story of the policemen and women who were on security duty at the Nova festival and who, despite being only a handful and armed only with pistols facing hordes of terrorists armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and RPG’s, were able to direct the 3,000 festival goers to escape routes which saved thousands of lives. Out of the forty policemen and women who served as security guards, only half survived. They fought until they ran out of ammunition, or were wounded or killed, or killed the Hamas degenerates, or captured them as prisoners.

But even now, when they are sought out by thousands of grateful survivors wanting to thank the men and women who found them – huddled and terrified – and helped bring them to safety, they don’t consider themselves heroes. “We were only doing our jobs. And anyhow, I don’t think about how many I saved. Only about how many I couldn’t save.”

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14 comments on “GAZA WAR DIARY: 21 APRIL 2024”

  1. Sara Reply

    I was listening to Caroline Glick podcast on my walk this morning, disgusting news that there are possible sanctions being placed on an ultra-orthodox unit of the IDF. This has to be Biden pandering to both the muslim population and then helping Israel to pander to the Jewish population. Of course antisemitism is running rampant in the US. It’s horrifying and disgusting that Jewish students can no longer feel sage at Columbia. Something has to be done…I’m not in love with Trump but I do believe he would do a better job as our world is slowly moving towards becoming oppressed by terrorists. Thank you always Naomi for your thoughts. I definitely will be interested to read these books once translated. Chag Pesach Sameach

  2. Karen Reply

    You are so right Daveed! What makes me is sick is this administration has a representative who meets nightly with the representatives from Israel, the UN, & Egypt who all together count how many trucks went into Gaza that day, how many pounds of food etc. The White House has known all along that there was never a starvation issue. In fact there is 5gal of water per person in Gaza per day for drinking, cooking etc, and so much food available that it’s causing problems for all of the people responsible for distributing it. They can’t get rid of it because everyone has more than enough and it’s causing huge bottleneck’s and delays for the IDF. There are 24 bakeries putting out millions of pitas everyday in Southern and central Gaza. The airdrops, opening of the other border’s and this stupid pier idea are totally unnecessary! But what does our government do? Continues with the lie that people are starving in Gaza, Why? It encourages the riots, the protests, the American flag burnings, and this administration is responsible. All so they can look the hero in the eyes of Muslim voters in swing states. It’s pure evil, it’s disgusting and it’s scary as hell. I really hope the American Jews who continue to vote Democrat, and everyone else who’s voting, begin to see the lies and the manipulation soon because it’s really affecting the people of America, Israel’s fight, and the stability of entire Middle East and beyond and all because they don’t want to lose power. It doesn’t get sicker than that.

  3. Laurie Reply

    I’ve just been reading a lot of your old postings, Naomi, probably going back 24 years – and it seems nothing has changed. The same politics and the same stories of those who won’t serve in Zahal….. and, in the case of the latter, it was the same 50 years ago. Is it not time to move on? elect a government with backbone? refuse to be dictated to by foreign governments who haven’t got a clue. Israel is NOT a vassal state of ANYONE.
    Chag Sameach…..AM ISRAEL CHAI.

    • Daveed Shachar Reply

      You are not being fair to the people of Israel. We voted for and elected the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. Unfortunately, former left-wing governments ensured Israel’s extremely strong dependence on U.S. arms. It stopped the development of its own fighter aircraft, and broke important contracts with China. American congressmen were greatly in favor of this dependence for two reasons: Total American control over what Israel could do militarily, and enormous numbers of jobs for their constituents working in arms factories. Israel is not allowed to spend its aid money outside of the U.S. after all.
      One thing is for sure. It’s time for Americans to stop voting for anti-Israel governments, which it has had for 12 out of the last 16 years, and which it may very well have for another four years, depending on what happens in November.
      So by all means blame the Jewish Americans who overwhelmingly vote Democrat, blame the Democrats for attacking Israel at every possible opportunity, whether it’s the desperately needed judicial reform, which would have turned Israel back into a Democracy, the destruction of Israel’s weapons industries, which caused the loss of thousands of Israeli engineers who had to leave the country permanently in search of employment, and now the absolute refusal to allow Israel to protect itself from Hamas, Hizballah and Iran.
      But don’t blame the patriotic Israelis who voted in a strongly Zionist government which has unfortunately had to fall under unbearable American pressure.

      • KD Reply

        A passage from my book, on the creation of the American military-industrial complex:

        On Tuesday 28th May, Roosevelt telephoned Bill Knudsen, who was then the President of General Motors, and asked him to visit Washington and meet with him.9 Knudsen had arrived in America in 1900 as an immigrant from Denmark, and had started working in the shipyards in the Bronx before getting a job with Keim Mills in Buffalo in 1902. Before long, the firm had obtained a contract to make axle housings for Ford, who were starting to produce their Model T cars.10 The American car industry was beginning to take off and in 1911, Ford bought over Keim Mills. Knudsen became one of the new engineers who could also manage large operations successfully. He was given the responsibility of organising Ford plants all around the United States so that they ran more efficiently.11 Knudsen understood that the key to efficiency in any engineering business was not speed but accuracy. Files and hammers were banned as workers were forced to rely on the machining processes that were put in place.12 Instead of buying a building then figuring out how to fit machinery into it, new factories were designed around the machinery that would be needed to make the final product, and each machine was placed where it needed to be on what would be the factory floor so that one process could lead into the next without delay. By designing plants so that large, complex engineering tasks were broken down into smaller, more manageable processes that were carried out in a deliberately planned sequence, Knudsen was helping to create a system of production that would revolutionise the car industry throughout America.13

        Knudsen left Ford in April 1921 and went to work for General Motors.14 He was able to turn around the fortunes of Chevrolet and make them profitable again,15 then he had an idea that would change the car industry forever. Knudsen decided that Chevrolet would build new models every year. Feedback from their own customers would guide what the firm’s designers and engineers were doing, so that the new models would end up being what people wanted to buy. This meant that the firm would have to practice “flexible mass production” and constantly change what they were doing inside their plants so that they could produce the new cars.16 The idea of using flexible mass production to produce new products was a success, and by the late thirties, General Motors had become the largest industrial corporation in the world.17

        When Knudsen travelled to Washington on 30th May, he was met by Harry Hopkins, who invited him to accept an unpaid position as part of the Council of National Defense Advisory Commission.18 Knudsen accepted the government’s offer, and working together with people like Edward Stettinius Jr., the president of U.S. Steel, Knudsen began to prepare the United States for a war in which she would be acting as the “arsenal of democracy.”19

        Knudsen understood that this would not happen overnight. A lead time of approximately eighteen months would be required before the industrial potential of America became a reality.20 Knudsen travelled to New York on 13th October for the annual Automobile Show at Madison Square Garden. At a dinner held by the Automobile Manufacturers Association, Knudsen gave a speech and told his audience that American industry would have to find a way to build more heavy bombers.21 When Knudsen attended a follow-up meeting on 29th October, he brought with him a team from the Air Corps and several aviation executives. One of the pilots at the meeting was Major Jimmy Doolittle, who went on to lead a bombing raid on Tokyo in April 1942. Doolittle explained to the car manufacturers what would be needed to build modern bombers, laid out displays of different components for them to examine, and asked them to figure out which of the parts their companies could produce.22

        The car executives agreed to form the Automotive Committee for Air Defence, with Clarence Carleton of Motor Wheel as chairman, and arranged for different engineering firms to operate as subcontractors and make aircraft parts for major firms such as Douglas and Boeing.23

        The top aeronautical companies in America also came together to form the Aircraft War Production Council, which was led initially by J.H. Kindelberger of North American.24 This organisation eliminated the traditional competition between these companies. Throughout the war, they shared their technical knowledge, specialist machinery and raw materials with one another.25 It may have taken some time for American production to come online, but the sheer scale of the industrial effort in the United States can be contrasted with the inadequate supply system that was available to the Germans. Halder had been forced to embark on a de-motorisation scheme before the war began because he could see no way to maintain a large fleet of motorised vehicles, and the army was still relying on the horse and cart to transport weapons and supplies to the front lines when Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.

        In December 1940, Doolittle had approached Edsel Ford and Charlie Sorenson, one of the top executives at Ford at the time, and asked if the company could build the new four-engined B-24 bomber.26 Sorensen had already told Knudsen at the meeting in Detroit that he did not want to make parts for other businesses to assemble and he had insisted that Ford would be able to build fully assembled planes.27 Following Doolittle’s request, Sorenson toured the Consolidated Aircraft plant in San Diego, where the bombers were currently being constructed. Sorenson was confident that Ford could do better, and he negotiated a contract with Washington on 25th February 1941 to build more of the heavy bombers. Sorensen intended to construct a new plant on a green field site that would allow Ford to build planes using the same mass production principles they used to make motor cars.28

        In March 1941, the Ford company began construction of the largest factory anywhere in the world at Willow Run, to the west of Detroit.29 Sorenson had envisaged an assembly line a mile long,30 but Henry Ford decided that the plant would have to be L-shaped, with massive turntables fitted at the junction to turn the bombers around by ninety degrees. Ford did not want the building to keep going in a straight line because it would cross into Wayne County, which was controlled by Democrats.31 The new plant, which ended up being 3,200 feet long and was 1,279 feet across at its widest point,32 was not initially successful. As the USAAF was starting to send personnel across the Atlantic in the spring of 1942 to establish 8th Bomber Command on British soil,33 Willow Run still was not producing any aeroplanes. Bill Knudsen, who had been given the rank of Lieutenant General and was now working as the Head of Production for the War Department, arrived at Willow Run on 27th July to troubleshoot the problem.34

        Knudsen had seen a similar situation arise a year earlier, when Glenn Martin was struggling to get B-26 Marauders built. Knudsen had spoken to Robert Patterson, the Undersecretary of War, and told him that the people at Glenn Martin were trapped in a cycle of re-tooling again and again to incorporate a never-ending stream of new design adaptations, and they needed to be left alone to concentrate on building aeroplanes to a fixed design. Knudsen proposed building a series of field modification centres around the country. The new planes could be flown to these centres, and any modifications carried out there to make them combat ready.35 Knudsen realised that this approach would allow the Ford plant at Willow Run to get moving as well.36 The plant had other problems to overcome, not the least of which was the lack of accommodation for the thousands of people who came there looking for work, but once the plant was able to operate using a static design, instead of continually having to re-tool to accommodate design modifications, the bombers eventually started rolling off the end of the production line on to the tarmac. The bombers were then flown to a modification centre operated by Bechtel-McCone, which was spread out over 285 acres of land near the municipal airport at Birmingham, Alabama.37 This centre employed approximately 14,000 people, many of whom had never worked on aeroplanes before, but using the same production and engineering practices that had worked on other projects, they carried out the modifications that were required.38

        By the end of 1942, American industry had produced 24,754 tanks, 2,300,000 small arms and 663,000 machine guns. A total of 47,873 aeroplanes, including 2,618 bombers, came off the assembly line that year, which was just short of the target Roosevelt had set following the attack at Pearl Harbour.39 In 1943, the numbers were greater still. 18,434 battleships, cruisers, carriers, subs and destroyers came out of American shipyards, tank production rose to 29,495 and the number of heavy bombers produced increased to 9,616, an increase of 267 per cent from the year before.40 Willow Run finally came good, and when the plant was running at peak efficiency in March 1944, it was able to produce a completely assembled B-24 heavy bomber every 63 minutes.41

        Duthie, Kenneth. The Road to Gomorrah: Britain’s War 1939-1943 (pp. 153-157). Kenneth Duthie. Kindle Edition.

  4. Martha Wood Reply

    Martha. Thanks for this encouraging story of courage and hope. Please let us know when these two books are published in English.

  5. Laurie Reply

    Chag Sameach l’Pesach to everyone.
    A good friend passed on to light an extra candle for the Hostsges. I feel it is a good thing to do. Thank you Naomi for all your articles….they explain exactly what I am thinking.
    Am Israel Chai.

  6. Elizabeth Behrman Reply

    One Day in October in English is available for preorder on Amazon.


    Naomi—Your best writing~fulled with “hope”, less anger, mpre purpose!


  8. Linda Biderman Reply

    We must continue to help and support each other as the world goes crazy.

    It frightens me that our elite colleges have been poisoned by these pro Hamas students and some professors who chant “from the river to the sea.” Some of the people are Jews themselves, which makes me hate them even more. It has come down to brainwashing and teaching them that the Jews are the oppressors. I would even help pay to get them out of our country and fly them to Iran. Let them see what rights they have living there. That would be justice!

    Thank you for the continued updates.


    Thank you for the most informative daily updates.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all
    Chag Pesach Someach.
    Am israel chai

  10. Audrey Travis Reply

    Yes! And to be able to say to you and your family (and all Jews) in Eretz Yisrael- Chag Pesach Kasher be Sameach is a deep privilege. I express gratitude to HaShem for bringing us to this time and say to all of us ”Next Year in Jerusalem”.

  11. Sarah Reingewirtz Reply

    Very moving. Inspiring. We must remember the victories as we mourn the losses.

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