My husband, artist Michael Rogatchi and I flew to Israel for the beginning of Succot, to spend a few weeks there and to participate in the Special Commemorative Film Series of my The Lessons of Survival Film marking the 10th anniversary of Simon Wiesenthal’s passing. The series were held in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.
The festivities and uplifted spirit of the High Holiday celebrations was broken on the night of October 3, just after the end of Shabbat, when we all heard of the brutal, pre-meditated murder of Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife Na’ama in front of their four children, aged four months to nine years old.
The attacks happening daily since follow a typical pattern: young Muslim fanatics of both sexes, with knives, not only indoctrinated but obviously trained to attack civilians, aiming to lay siege to Jerusalem and all of Israel. The attempts to interpret the ongoing terrorist siege here as random, “lone wolf” attacks are both unprofessional and misleading. It is dangerous and short-sighted and has nothing to do with reality.
When we came to the Kotel (the Western Wall) on the eve of Simhat Torah, the place was unusually quiet. Although the men’s section had been happily filled in, there were only about 300 women in our section. It was a bit surreal to witness the Kotel plaza empty beyond the place for prayers, doubly so on the Simhat Torah eve when hundreds if not thousands are usually dancing there with Torah scrolls late into the night.
The situation and the atmosphere in Jerusalem and Israel has been aggravated seriously with daily terrorist attacks: knives, rocks, explosives, cars; physical violence unleashed in the wild determination of Muslim fanatics who disrespect the lives of everyone, including themselves. These fanatics hates as a normal human being breathes. Importantly, they had been brought up in this fashion – the EU and the UN funded their sick textbooks and barbaric school programs. Also importantly, they had been trained and motivated to attack people with knives, to pelt them and their vehicles with stones, to physically attack people, suffocating them, beating them, grabbing weapons from soldiers and officers, spitting on the bleeding victims, mocking them – in general demonstrating the best fanatical Islam has to offer humanity.
They are celebrating their daily murderous attacks in Israel to the core of their bestiality all over the country – and a documentary must be made exclusively on this subject.
It truly would be the best verification of all that endless financing of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions by their devoted friends in the US, EU and the rest of the civilized – or is it? – world.
The teenage terrorists are treated in Israeli hospitals with care and attention which has left many people here feeling insulted. Such sentiment is certainly understandable under the circumstances: life in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country is constantly accompanied by sirens and that sounds of helicopters, and the taxpayers funding the treatment of terrorists in the Israeli hospitals are madly worried about their children, as schools are not that well guarded nowadays.
Everyone is preoccupied with the news, and people are checking their smartphones every 10 minutes to keep abreast of developments.
It is fundamentally wrong for people to live in continuously increasing jeopardy on their own land, in their own country. This is a massive violation of basic and fundamental human rights – and it shall be fought, despite the hostile attitude toward Israel in many international forums. If we do not fight to preserve our rights, against all odds, no one else will.
The US administration waited a full two weeks to begin condemning the terrorism against Israeli citizens, but did so by equalizing the Palestinian terrorists and Israel, the same as the EU did; the UK Foreign Ministry dared to express its “concern” over “the use of force by Israel.” Kafka would feel very lonely in the real jungle of international politics today. His wildest fantasies are truly very pale in comparison with such utter dishonesty and grotesque parody.
The mayor of Jerusalem is calling for arming the citizens; the deputy mayor suggested that a curfew be introduced in the Old City. The citizens are arming themselves with a wide range of possible self-defense tools, from pepper and anti-wasp sprays to iron bars, long screwdrivers and even a long umbrellas.
There is no hysteria in Jerusalem, all is quiet, but people are focused and cautious, and everyone is on alert.
Travel agencies are reporting that a series of cancellations has been started now, as well. There is no business in restaurants and stores, usually very crowded at this time of year. The Israeli economy will suffer, again.
But the Jewish spirit is not giving up. The Jewish nation has had a very extensive training, indeed, to keep it strong in the face of adversity. On the Shabbat at the peak of the terrorism, my husband returned from his synagogue in great spirit.
“The synagogue was absolutely full, and we were singing with incredible unity, force and joy. And when I was returning home, all windows on the both sides of the street were opened, with lights and candles on, and people were singing in their homes at the arrival of Shabbat everywhere. It is impossible to overcome a people with such understanding, calm and devotion.”
It is hard to imagine that just a couple of weeks ago, there were overcrowded streets here, with energizing musical chaos all over, as there had been a concert at every corner.
But the Jewish melody did not disappear, it had not been swept away by the wave of bestial terrorism.
After the vile attack on the bus claiming three Israeli Jewish lives with over 20 more people wounded, we were slowly going through the empty and sad streets of the heart of both Jewish and non-Jewish world, while seeing many Israeli flags in front of us over the Zion Square. The flags were held by girls, aged between 15 and 20, their faces enlightened, and they were smiling gently and peacefully. People around were listening the songs performed by few very good middle- aged musicians in support of Jewish life and Israeli spirit. People were coming to the place from all directions. After days of increasing terrorism, the faces at that improvised concerts radiated serenity and love for their people, their land, their history, their families and their nation – our nation. And the music was beautiful.
We will never be won over, by none of those bastards,” said my husband. As everybody else at Zion Square at that moment, we both were smiling, too. The Israeli flags were waving to the rhythm of the eternal Jewish melody. And our kids were smiling, keeping our flags in their hands very firmly.Dr. Inna Rogatchi is a writer, scholar, film maker and philanthropist.
She is the creator of The Lessons of Survival, Conversations with Simon Wiesenthal, an internationally acclaimed film shown in Israel in October 2015. Her forthcoming book is called Personal Reflections on Holocaust in the Modern Time.
More about her and her activities at The Rogatchi Foundation site (www.rogatchi.org) and the Rogatchi Films site (www.rogatchifilms.org).