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The Jewish Report Editorial

Enough is enough!

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International Women’s Day on 8 March is a farce! How can we celebrate women while the world hasn’t acknowledged the violent sexual crimes perpetrated against Jewish women in Israel on 7 October? And there hasn’t been an international outcry to demand the release of the hostages, some of whom are believed to continue to be subjected to this horror.

How dare a world that purports to take women’s rights seriously ignore this heinous crime? How dare the United Nations (UN) celebrate this day as its own, while still not taking on the plight of the Jewish women who were systematically raped and mutilated by depraved Hamas terrorists.

Even now that a UN report by a team of experts under the guidance of Pramila Patten, the secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, came back with proof of this devastation, nothing has happened. In fact, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appears to be doing absolutely nothing about the report. Word has it that he saw it and tried to keep it quiet for as long as possible, but I can’t prove that.

However, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, demanded in a letter to Guterres early this week that he convene an urgent security council meeting to ensure that Hamas is held accountable and declared a terrorist organisation by the UN.

So far, we’ve had no reaction …

Nevertheless, on this International Women’s Day, the UN celebrates under the theme “Invest in women: Accelerate progress”. That’s all well and good, but empowering women starts with women having rights over their own bodies. And the first step is to believe women who have been raped.

Considering that one of this year’s slogans, “My body, my right” speaks to exactly that principle, I would imagine this would be top of the agenda. However, what has been the biggest travesty against women in many decades should lead to, first of all, believing them, and second, justice being done against the perpetrators.

But, at this stage, more than five months after 7 October, nothing even close to that has happened. Meanwhile, as the UN report clearly states, the hostages are most probably still being subjected to sexualised torture. What do we have to do to get people in power to do something? Or is it as simple as the fact that if you’re Jewish, it doesn’t count?

It’s a breath of fresh air to see that South African women of all ages and backgrounds came together under the banner of the Women’s Action Campaign South Africa to find out what our fellow citizens feel.

It was especially heart-warming to know that the majority of those surveyed – representative of the country – believe that our government should take this up internationally.

I know that it’s almost laughable to expect this government, which has sided with Hamas against Israel, even to consider doing so. It has made its feelings about what Hamas did on 7 October so clear by literally ignoring it for so long.

That is, until this week, when our dear minister of international affairs and cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, suggested, after all this time, that Hamas should be investigated for war crimes for its attack on Israel last October. Talk about paying lip service to something she clearly doesn’t believe! What took her five months?

Had she actually believed it, perhaps she would have ensured that this was taken to the International Court of Justice rather than the many charges her team lay at the feet of Israel. However, that, and her call at the same time for the release of Israeli hostages was so soft and insignificant, it wasn’t even heard by South Africans, let alone those in Hamas.

These words of hers, however, do signify some kind of backtracking, but I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps her stance has upset America, and she has been told off. I have no idea, but it clearly isn’t where her heart is.

The point is: as a woman first and foremost, I would imagine her responsibility lies with standing up for other women, and I believe she should have been shouting from the rooftops against the weaponisation of sexual violence. And knowing what happened to women at Hamas’s hands, she should have also done everything in her power to get the hostages released.

Had she done that, the war might well have been over a while back. But instead, she not only ignored the plight of Israelis, she demonised it, making Israel out to be a country that only wants to harm. Truth is, Israel wants its people back, and to ensure that Hamas can’t hurt Israelis again.

Had she demanded this in the first place when she made her phone call to Hamas the day after 7 October, perhaps many Gazan civilians would never have experienced what they have. The number of deaths wouldn’t be so high. She could have done something, but she didn’t.

UN Women could also have done something in the past five months, but they didn’t. Will they do anything now that they have a UN report proving what Jewish women said was true? We’ll see.

But South African Jewish women aren’t sitting back and waiting. We’re taking to the streets to protest these atrocities and our government’s continued deafening silence.

We’ll be raising our voices for those who are unable to do so. We’ll be raising our voices for the 19 women still being held in Gaza. We’ll be shouting out for those who were brutalised and killed on 7 October. Enough is enough!

Shabbat Shalom!

Peta Krost


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