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Gaza War Diary: 27-28 OCTOBER 2023

It is hard to be an observant Jew on Shabbat during a war, when your whole being is crying out for information and updates, and your religious obligations force you to turn off the internet, television, and radio. While there are those who make accommodations, I’m not one of them. If there is a life threatening situation, we will soon enough hear a siren and behave accordingly.

Instead, I tried to make the most of having a day off from the constant stream of information. I listened instead to the words of my prayers as never before and was startled at just how strengthened and encouraged I felt as a result.

“Where is G-d? Before our eyes. May nations know that You avenge the blood of your servants.”

There has never been a war like this in our lifetime for the Jewish people. There are those, I know, who compare October 7 to the Holocaust. More likely, I think it resembles the terrible pogrom in Kishinev of 1903. Our pioneers returned to Zion to prevent just such things ever happening again.

To our everlasting heartbreak, only now do we understand that we underestimated our enemies’ capacity for barbarism. In the past, we allowed our kind hearts to forge all sorts of benevolent programs for them – giving them water and electricity, giving them thousands of work permits, treating them for free in our hospitals. Yaha Sinwar, the Hamas barbarian responsible for the October 7 atrocities, had a life-saving brain tumor operation in an Israeli hospital while incarcerated in Israel! He was released in the Shalit deal. This is his thanks.

The peace so hoped for by so many Israeli leaders has suddenly and shockingly been exposed in all its dangerous delusion and bankruptcy.

Today, there is no Right, no Left . There is no Tel Avivan and no “settler”. We are all one nation, indivisible. Attempts by Hamas to sow discord by exploiting our despair over our hostages by dangling false “deals” in front us won’t work. In a joint news conference, our leaders this evening unanimously confirmed that there is only one way to get our hostages back: defeating Hamas.

We Israelis are tired but determined. Half a million of us have been uprooted from our homes. And those lucky enough to still be in theirs, have had to deal with sirens and worries over family members serving in the military. But I want to make something abundantly clear: We have never ever been prouder to be Jews and to be Israelis.

While the rest of the world seems to have sunk to the depths of depravity in supporting the most evil acts imaginable, our people have risen to the challenge of defending each other with love and sacrifice.

All Shabbat I spent reading stories of heroism: Israelis who voluntarily faced down dozens of terrorists without ammunition or backup, saving lives. Israelis in their homes who managed to save their families even when terrorists walked through the door. Israelis who laid their lives down for their babies, hiding them in closets and fighting to their last drop of blood.

These are my people. We fight not just for ourselves, but to save the world from the atrocities we have suffered, by eliminating this ISIS-inspired group of barbarians, Hamas, the heirs of the Nazis.

You can help. Get online and respond to any pro-Hamas propaganda. Tell the world that little Israel is a nation of heroes, the most just and moral people on earth, and that we fight for righteousness against a depraved enemy that has no respect for human life, even their own people’s. Tell them that there will be a ceasefire the moment Hamas frees our hostages and surrenders. Tell them that Hamas are committing crimes against humanity by targeting civilians and putting their war machine beneath hospitals, mosques and schools.

All day, some of the words of a poem I wrote over half a century ago when I was a high school junior at the Hebrew Institute of Long Island, kept going through my head:

I stand with pride unshattered before a world who would my spirit break.
With shoulders thrown back and head held high I proclaim to all I am a Jew
And all who do despise me can never more do me harm.
For now that spirt by all Jews is shared. Our hearts are proud and free.
For there is honor in that name and a fearless courage that will endure.

Truer than ever. I love my fellow Israelis and my fellow Jews, and all the good people everywhere who now stand unequivocally by our side, our partners in defeating these enemies who are the essence of evil.

I truly hate those who have murdered and kidnapped my people, and those that hail them and give them succor, whether they be traitorous stupid Jews, Muslim fanatics, or simply antisemites. And I have a special disgust in my heart for those who find it necessary to hedge their support; who talk about “wanting peace” and “humanitarian ceasefires” and “all the poor children.” I hate them most of all.

“Those who bless you will be blessed. And those who curse you will be cursed.”

We in Israel will never forget how people, leaders, nations behaved at this time. Never. The truth is coming out about who are our friends, and who are our enemies. The blessing and curse will follow, of that I have no doubt.

Planes overhead are deafening the skies. May God bring all our hostages back to us alive and return them to their families. May God bring our soldiers back alive and return them to their families. May God allow all our people to go back home and live in peace and safety forever more. Amen.

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7 comments on “Gaza War Diary: 27-28 OCTOBER 2023”

  1. Robert Ejnes

    Dear Naomi,
    I enjoy every line you write. I, like you, tried to compare this Pogrom to the large Pogroms the Jewish people have known. But this goes beyond anything.
    For example, in the famous Pogrom of Kichinev (1903), which began on Easter Day, 49 Jews were killed, 92 were gravely injured, a number of Jewish women were raped, over 500 were lightly wounded, and 1,500 homes were damaged.
    I visited Kfar Aza last week, and we met with survivors of the massacre and families of the hostages.
    What happened on the 7th of October is beyond our imagination.

  2. Yossi Lupas

    Naomi, you are truly amazing. All the stories, perhaps both the good and the bad, need to be recorded for eternity. Would you consider taking it upon yourself to immediately put to writing and create a book of 1000+ stories? The English speaking world needs to know what happened and only someone like you can do write the stories accurately and timely.

  3. Victor H Sharpe

    From the River to the Sea,
    The God of Israel made us Free.

    To no one else He gave this Land,
    To Zion alone by His holy hand.

    Composed by Victor Sharpe
    © Victor Sharpe 2023

    Genesis 12:1

    Genesis 12:7

    Genesis 13:14

    Genesis 15:7

    Genesis 15:18

    Genesis 17:8

    Genesis 26:2

    Genesis 28:13

    Genesis 35:12

    Exodus 2:8

  4. Ryan Keogh

    Dear Ms. Ragen

    As a gentile from New York City, I feel terrible for the people of Israel, and wish them the best in the ongoing war against Hamas. I have been reading your diaries on the war, and they have given me a perspective on the war that I would say is invaluable. The war has weighed very heavily on my mind ever since October 7th, and I must say the rhetoric and conduct of my fellow countrymen has shocked me, and not in a good way.
    At my college, there was a pro-Palestinian rally organized by the Palestinian-American students, and the protesters held a large banner which read “Globalize the Intifada.” Mind you, right outside the college is a large Haredi enclave! As I said, I was shocked by the response to the war; I expected some protests but not of this scale and number, and they seem mostly to be against Israel. It is something strange for me, because the people at these protests are my fellow students and my fellow Americans. Other than this, they seem like nice people, and even now I cannot say that I hold much ill will against them. I just think that it is a consequence of having a college “activist” culture, which has existed since the 1960s. There is also the presence of “professors” such as Joseph Massad, a Columbia professor who literally praised Hamas’ evil attack as “awesome”. I should note that this man is still teaching there, two weeks after writing that. And then the most important factor is the parents, who teach their children how terrible the IDF and the Israelis were to them, and thus they spread their hate for Israel here to the next generation and next country.
    And the worst part of it all is that I have not seen a strong response by our politicians to these sentiments. And the greatest irony is that our young, “progressive” politicians such as Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and others have not condemned Hamas’ terrorism, but instead bashed Israel and pitied the poor, defenseless Gazans. These are the same people that claim to be the torchbearers for freedom and democracy. If this is what “progressivism” is and stands for, then I want no part of it. And to top it off, Joe Biden has given the Gazans 100 million, which I am very sure will go to Hamas and be used against Israel. As you said, if someone talked about giving Japan aid before they surrendered to Harry Truman, while they were still killing US soldiers, and committing massacres, I imagine he would have thrown him out of the Oval Office.
    Unfortunately, I have a feeling it will get worse, because eventually our political strategists will look at a demographic chart, and realize that the Arab vote is very important, and some President will run on a promise to cut off aid to the “genocidal” Israel. At that point, I would imagine that it might not be so nice to be a Jew in America anymore. Maybe American Jews, in light of these events, should looking towards making Aliyah. It would be really sad if it came to that, because Americans of any creed should never, ever feel unsafe so that they should leave their own country, but the politicians have shown that they will sell anyone or anything out if it gets them a vote or a dollar.
    All that said, I really hope the war ends soon in a victory for Israel, and that the Israeli people can heal and recover as best as they can. I know they can do it; they have faced the trials of history many times over and come out each time stronger and stronger. I wish you peace and happiness, and look forward to reading The Enemy Beside Me.

    • Karen Asbeck

      Ryan, I wanted to say, as an American and a Mother of a college age boy, it encourages and lifts my heart to hear your words. To know that there is still hope for your generation, that there are “kids” your age who can still see through all the crazy ideology and dangerous nonsense being spewed, especially on college campuses. Thank you for your comments, you have no idea how much I needed to hear those words this week. I was beginning to think my son was the only one of your generation who had a conscience and a heart.

  5. Angelika Máté

    Dear Naomi, I read and love all your books. My heart is with your people and the “but-sayers” cannot be my friends anymore. All the best for you and Israel from Berlin,
    Angelika Máté

  6. Gail Saks

    Each day you bring me to tears. Your strength is enlightening and your words are uplifting
    As an American Jew with 1/2 of my family living in Israel I applaud you.
    PS. Your last book was amazing.

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