Hundred of Jewish women – their mouths symbolically taped shut – converged on Hopetoun Gardens in Elsternwick on Monday for a #NoExcuse protest after the UN and the #MeToo movement expressed scepticism about evidence from Israel showing horrific sexual atrocities and violence against women and girls by Hamas terrorists on October 7.
In line with overseas protests, the vigil, organised by the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Victoria) and other communal groups, answered the rallying call “No excuse for ignoring violence against Israeli women on October 7”. Placards stated, “No Excuse” and “Me too unless ur a Jew”.
After weeks of delay, the UN has begun investigating evidence from Israel on the rape and slaughter of Israeli women on October 7, as part of its inquiry into both sides of the war. UN Women Australia chair Georgina Williams attended the vigil but was not among speakers.
Recounting her Iranian captivity, Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert said of October 7, “I was taken back to my own arrest and imprisonment. The number-one thing I feared was not the loss of my liberty, but sexual assault. It took months in Revolutionary Guard custody before I understood that as a foreign woman of some value to my captors, they would not be doing this to me. Hundreds of Israeli women and girls have not been so lucky.”
She condemned those who “minimise, erase, or even outright deny” what happened to Jewish women.
Jackie Frank, founding editor of Marie Claire, stated, “We are here to convey the collective pain and indignation triggered by the silence of women’s rights advocates and organisations.”
Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said, “What Israeli and Jewish women and girls were subjected to must be universally condemned without qualification.”
Speaking about missing hostage Naama Levy, 19, dragged from Kibbutz Nahal Oz in a bloodied state, her Australian friend Mika Meltzer, 18, despaired at the casual disbelief of Israelis’ rape, torture and murder.
Liza Ezekiel, NCJWA (Vic) CEO, said, “We must demand that the horrific crimes committed against Israeli women and girls are condemned in the same way by those who speak out against the suffering of women and children in Gaza … Jewish women deserve the same protection as every other woman around the world.”