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#METOO – UNLESS YOU'RE A JEW"Were you silent because it was Jewish women?"

‘Where the hell are you?’

"It would appear that the pain of Israeli women is not valid. Indeed, the women's movement at large by its silence, seems to accept that rape is an acceptable 'act of resistance'."

Photo: Screenshots
Photo: Screenshots

WARNING: Graphic content – sexual violence.

It’s an image forever seared into our minds: a young girl, bound and barefoot, pulled from the back of a black Jeep to cheers of “Allahu akhbar”.

Her long hair is in the tight clasp of a gun-wielding Hamas terrorist.

Her grey pants are blood stained.

Her face, arms and ankles are bloodied too.

“This is how we discovered that my cousin Naama had been kidnapped,” Sydney’s Zack Shachar told The AJN.

“It’s how everyone in the family found out. It’s just unbelievable … Terrible,” his voices trails off.

Naama Levy, 19, had been staying on Kibbutz Nahal Oz when Hamas’ October 7 rampage began.

At 6.56am she sent a message to her mother Ayelet on WhatsApp: “We’re in the safe room … I’ve never heard anything like this.”

And then, silence – until the release of a video showing the teen entering Hamas captivity.

It went viral worldwide. But there have been no further updates to Naama’s whereabouts or condition since.

“Her mother is having a really hard time. She’s crying, and she doesn’t know what to do. Like any other parent, she wants her daughter next to her,” shared Shachar, who migrated from Israel with his wife and children 14 years ago.

He reflects on Naama as “a sweet little blonde child”, who grew into a peace activist. Just last year, she participated in Hands of Peace, he tells, an interfaith program that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and American children, empowering them to become leaders of the next generation.

“I wanted to hear the other side,” says Naama in a video address made as a program participant.

“We live so close to each other, but we never actually get to talk to one another.”

Naama is just one of the 244 hostages kidnapped by Hamas – and understood to be among the hundreds of women victims of their weaponised sexual violence.

Eyewitnesses, ZAKA volunteers, combat paramedics, law enforcement and forensic experts have all attested to the horrors inflicted on girls and women on October 7; attacks which have amounted to systematic mass rape and mutilation.

Women and girls who were brutalised in the most barbaric circumstances.

Women and girls who were raped until their pelvises shattered. Who were shot in the head while being raped. Who had their breasts cut off and genitals mutilated and were beheaded. Who were defiled and paraded through the streets.

And whose naked corpses were piled on each other and burned.

And yet, the world has remained largely silent: United Nations Women, governments, sexual assault and women’s advocacy groups, the global #MeToo movement and feminists either ignoring, downplaying, delegitimising, or outright denying the atrocities.

Two months have passed since October 7, with UN Women failing to issue a statement that directly refers to Israeli women, the depraved sexual violence of Hamas, or the establishment of an enquiry or investigation – until this past week.

Released by UN Women on December 1, the statement acknowledged “all women, Israeli women, Palestinian women, as all others, are entitled to a life lived in safety and free from violence”, adding, “We unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel.”

The “all women” statement stood as a contrast to the ire invoked by the phrase “all lives matter” at the height of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

In late November, UN Women made an Instagram post offering condemnation of “the brutal attacks by Hamas on October 7” – only to delete it shortly after.

Conveying the outrage and indignation of silence, closer to home, hundreds held vigil at the #NoExcuse rally in Melbourne, in solidarity with Israeli women and girls on Monday.

“It would appear that the pain of Israeli women is not valid. Indeed, the women’s movement at large by its silence, seems to accept that rape is an acceptable ‘act of resistance’,” said organisers.

Mika Meltzer, a long time Australian friend of Naama Levy, told the crowd she despairs when she hears accusations that Israeli claims have not been proven – from people who are ignorant or misinformed about what Hamas stands for.

“Why do they have the right to tell us that our families, our friends, are actually being kidnapped by the Israeli government to put Hamas in a bad light? That just does not make sense.”

Meanwhile, Executive Council of Australian Jewry immediate past president Jillian Segal told The AJN, “The silence, or worse, denial of Hamas rape and sexual torture by so many female leaders is a perfect illustration of the hypocrisy and double standards that emerge whenever Jews or Israel are mentioned. Antisemitism displaces reasoning, principles and basic humanity and that is what we are seeing here.”

On Monday, hundreds also gathered at the UN for an Israel-led special session aiming to raise awareness of the sexual crimes against women on October 7.

Speaking at the special session, former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Silence is complicity. And in the face of terror, we cannot be quiet.”

In a press conference the following day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted the silence of the UN and international bodies. He charged: “Were you silent because it was Jewish women?

“I say to the women’s rights organisations, to the human rights organisations: You’ve heard of the rape of Israeli women, horrible atrocities, sexual mutilation? Where the hell are you?”

Meanwhile, Naama Levy spends her 61st day in Hamas captivity.

Speaking to Instagram account #MomToo, Naama’s mother Ayelet posed: “What would you do, if your daughter was being held hostage by violent rapists and murderers for two months? And perhaps the better question is, is there anything you wouldn’t do?”

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