The familiar silence of feminists

'For the most part, I feel like we're just talking to each other, one traumatised Jew to another.'

A still from footage showing the capture and abduction of Liri Albag, Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Daniela Gilboa and Naama Levy on October 7, 2023.
 Photo: The Hostages Families Forum
A still from footage showing the capture and abduction of Liri Albag, Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Daniela Gilboa and Naama Levy on October 7, 2023. Photo: The Hostages Families Forum

Once the rage subsides, the hurt and despair sets in. It should be a familiar pattern by now, but it continues to shock us each and every time.

The silence.

It was the middle of the night in Australia when the sickening three-minute video of Liri Albag, Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Daniella Gilboa and Naama Levy being abducted from the Nahal Oz base by Hamas monsters on October 7 was released.

I was awake and unwisely decided to open X, formerly known as Twitter, at 3am. I knew what would be flooding my feed and I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t. Of course I wasn’t. How could anyone be?

The bloodied face of Naama, the pleading eyes of Liri, the stunned innocence in Agam’s voice when she answers where she is from, Daniella’s utter terror, Karina in her Snoopy pyjama pants.

The brutality of those Hamas savages as they hurled abuse and threats at these teenage girls. The audacity of them to pause their brutal rampage to pray. The way the girls were marched, bleeding and hobbling, wrists tied behind their backs, to stolen jeeps waiting to take them into Gaza. Karina’s slow, pained walk was particularly disturbing to any woman watching closely.

It was three minutes of hell.

That was the end of my sleep for the night as I thought about their families, their mothers, and how they haven’t slept for nearly eight months. Stuck in an endless October.

When the sun rose I still felt sick to my stomach. As the footage was shared among us, Jews around the world all felt the same.

Surely this video, taken by the terrorists themselves, would finally convince every feminist and women’s organisation the world over to raise their voices? To campaign for these teenage girls to be returned to their families? To denounce this clear and obvious violence against women? To call out Hamas for what they are – terrorists, murderers and rapists?


Not a word from UN Women. “We are the global champion for gender equality,” the organisation professes on its website. What a laugh.

Nothing from the many western feminists who hashtagged #womanlifefreedom after the arrest and death of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini.

No global #bringbackourgirls hashtag campaign similar to the one so many of the biggest celebrities embraced to draw attention to Nigeria’s stolen Chibok girls.

Then there’s the cohort of Australian “influencers” who I refuse to name. We know who they are and some of us may have seen at least one of them sharing a video claiming the teenage IDF “soldiers” lost an “armed battle” against Hamas and, as “members of the occupation forces”, Hamas had every right to take them as prisoners of war.

Just to be clear, these young women are IDF observers – they are stationed close to the Gaza border and monitor surveillance footage on screens. They are unarmed. Most of them at Nahal Oz that day were slaughtered in their pyjamas.

While some major news organisations did give the harrowing footage the prominence it deserves, others ignored it entirely.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald didn’t even bother putting the video or any coverage of it in their papers or on their website, despite an entire section dedicated to the “Israel–Palestinian conflict”. I emailed them about it, unsurprisingly I received no reply.

As the hours and days went on, my emotional wheel continued to spin between rage and despair.

There was some validation when prominent women’s website Mamamia finally put up an article about the five captive Israeli women, albeit many days later.

Comments on the story were disabled, not to prevent hate directed at Hamas, but to stop the inevitably vile comments that would be aimed at the victims.

For the last few weeks I have engaged with the editors of Mamamia about their lack of coverage of the reports of sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israelis, particularly at the Nova festival. This is a publication that champions women’s rights, that calls out violence against women, that supposedly believes all women. I was told by them that any discussion about the topic creates “a large amount of feedback” and so the team is publishing “very carefully”.

I replied that the fear of feedback shouldn’t prevent them from doing what is right, so I was relieved to see at least some coverage of the plight of Liri, Daniella, Agam, Karina and Naama.

But for the most part, I feel like we’re just talking to each other, one traumatised Jew to another. We share stories on Instagram in the hope that they will reach someone outside of our community, that our non-Jewish friends and colleagues might hit the heart button in a tiny show of solidarity.

More often than not, though, we are met with silence.

Carly Adno is an AJN senior journalist.

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