Me Too, Unless You’re a Jew

Me Too, Unless You’re a Jew

March 21, 2024

By Deedee Bitran, Shutts and Bowen LLP

Since the Israel-Hamas war, the slogan “Me Too Unless You’re a Jew”[1] has circulated to highlight the blatant hypocrisy of the feminist movement and feminist organizations when it comes to acknowledging Hamas’ brutality and mass rape of Israeli women on October 7th. Florida leads the way in the nation with its strong support for Israel and for education

Florida’s Strong Connection to Israel

Florida’s strong connection to Israel is undeniable. Shortly after the Champlain Towers in Surfside collapsed, a team of Israeli Defense Forces flew from Israel to Miami to tirelessly assist with recovering bodies from the rubble. As the Palm Beach Post noted, “The Israeli Defense Forces’ National Rescue Unit recovered 81 of the 97 victims from the Champlain Towers South condo collapse site in Surfside.”[2] In 2016, in response to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (“BDS”) movement[3], Florida passed anti-BDS legislation, reaffirming its support for Israel and its right to exist: “Florida passed anti-BDS legislation with almost unanimous bi-partisan support, pledging not to contract with businesses engaging in BDS” and “[a] legislature’s decision not to subsidize the exercise of a fundamental right does not infringe the right.”[4] In 1994, the Florida Legislature passed the Holocaust Education Bill which requires all school districts to incorporate lessons on the Holocaust as part of public-school instruction in grades K-12.[5]

When the Israel-Hamas war started on October 7, 2023, Florida once again made its support for Israel clear with two Executive Orders. On October 12, 2023, Governor Ronald DeSantis signed Executive Order 23-208 to enable the Florida Division of Emergency Management to help bring Floridians home from Israel and transport necessary supplies to Israel.  This Executive Order acknowledged “Hamas terrorists from Gaza and the surrounding region infiltrated Israel's borders and began indiscriminately murdering, kidnapping, and raping innocent men, women, and children.”[6] This executive order pledged to assist Floridians stranded in Israel due to the war with flying back to Florida safely and activated Florida’s National Guard and State Guard to assist as needed.

Additionally, on January 9, 2024, because “antisemitic incidents in the United States have increased by 388% in the aftermath of the attack on Israel[,]” Governor DeSantis signed Emergency Order No. 2024-E0-01 welcoming out-of-state transfer students who have a well-founded fear of antisemitic persecution at their current postsecondary institution to Florida’s universities.[7]

Ben Sasse, the University of Florida’s President, issued a statement in support of Israel and condemning Hamas: “I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism. This shouldn’t be hard. Sadly, too many people in elite academia have been so weakened by their moral confusion that, when they see videos of raped women, hear of a beheaded baby, or learn of a grandmother murdered in her home, the first reaction of some is to ‘provide context’ and try to blame the raped women, beheaded baby, or the murdered grandmother. In other grotesque cases, they express simple support for the terrorists.”[8

Mounting Credible Evidence of Hamas Weaponizing Rape and Brutalizing Women

Hamas proudly documented their brutal attacks on women. Evidence keeps mounting to confirm that Hamas’ brutal attacks on women occurred (the New York Times in ‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on October 7th[9] and the Wallstreet Journal in The Rape of the Israeli Women[10]). Numerous eyewitnesses and hostages have come forward testifying as to Hamas’ violence on women (including mass rape[11] and Hamas’ mutilation of sexual organs[12]). Despite the overwhelming amounts of evidence, the feminists of the world who previously marched and chanted “BELIEVE ALL WOMEN” continue to question the Israeli victims’ credibility, stayed silent, have altogether denied that Hamas’ attack occurred, and/or attempted to justify or glorify Hamas’ mass rape of Israeli women.

Agam Goldstein-Almog, a former Israeli hostage who Hamas abducted from her home on October 7, 2023, recently authored an article titled “The Girls I Met in the Tunnels.”[13] In that article, Agam, a seventeen-year-old female, explained that Hamas put a bullet through her sister’s head in front of her and murdered her father, and then proceeded to kidnap Agam and her mother into Gaza.  Agam explained: “It was in the tunnels that I met other young women. Most of them were just a year or so older than my 17 years. Some still had bloody gunshot wounds that had been left untreated in makeshift bandages. One had a dismembered limb. I heard from them accounts of terrifying and grotesque sexual abuse, often at gunpoint. They told me that when they were sad and cried, their captors took advantage of their helplessness even more, stroking and caressing them, and then shoving and grabbing intimate parts of their bodies. They were treated like playthings.”

Mia Schem, a former French-Israeli hostage who Hamas abducted from the Nova music festival on October 7, 2023 testified in a CNN interview that she feared rape and the only reason she believes her captor did not rape her is because “his wife was outside the room with their children.”[14] When Mia was released, she felt guilty leaving other women behind in Hamas’ tunnels, and has stated they told her “Mia, please, please, don’t let them forget about us.”[15]

As noted in Newsweek, “At the Nova music festival, where more than 350 young people were slaughtered and dozens kidnapped, witnesses hiding in the bushes saw terrorists gang-rape, then murder and mutilate women. A Hamas video from a kibbutz shows terrorists torturing a pregnant woman and removing her fetus. Our forensic scientists have found bodies of women and girls raped with such violence that their pelvic bones were broken. … This evidence, along with the explicit recorded confessions of captured terrorists, makes abundantly clear that mass rape was a premeditated part of Hamas's plan.”[16]

In January 2024, UN experts noted: “These acts constitute gross violations of international law, amounting to war crimes which, given the number of victims and the extensive premeditation and planning of the attacks, may also qualify as crimes against humanity[.]”[17]

The portion of Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack on October 7th that targeted the Kibbutizm[18] in Israel constituted the utmost betrayal to the residents of the Kibbutzim who are among the most politically liberal members of Israeli society.  The residents of the Kibbutizm live near the Gaza border and are known for their belief in peace with their Palestinian neighbors.[19] A member of the Bibas family shared with me that her family in the Kibbutizm frequently drove Palestinians from Gaza to Israeli hospitals and formed a women’s group of both Palestinians and Israelis encouraging peace and a future of living side by side together in harmony.  Despite their peaceful efforts to coexist and befriend their Palestinian neighbors, the Bibas family (consisting of 9-month-old Kfir and four-year-old Ariel, along with their parents Yarden and Shiri) were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th and remain hostages in Gaza. To date, Kfir is the youngest remaining hostage in Gaza and it is unknown if him and his family are alive.[20]

Feminists Ignore, Downplay, or Deny Hamas’ Brutality on Women

On November 24, 2023, over a month after Hamas’ terrorist attack, United Nations Women (“UN Women”), the organization tasked with advancing the rights of ALL women, issued a definitive statement that condemned “the brutal attacks by Hamas.” Then, the organization deleted its statement[21] and replaced it with another that omitted condemnation of Hamas.  On December 1, 2023, UN Women, finally issued a statement[22] on the violence against women that occurred on October 7, 2023 that condemned Hamas, however, wholly absent from that statement is the word “rape.”

In 2021, Michelle Obama[23], a strong feminist advocate, passionately advocated for the release of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by an Islamist terror group (Boko Haram), has remained completely silent as to the female Israeli hostages. One of the female hostages, Naama Levy,[24] was part of a global peace organization bringing together Jews, Arabs, and Americans. Her parents have spoken about how disappointed they are in Michelle Obama’s silence, noting “We talked about Michelle Obama often” and that Naama believed Michelle Obama was “someone who not only cared about global women but also someone with a really good heart.”[25] Her parents explained “What I want to know: Why has she, and all these other famous women Naama looked up to, and all of the global human rights organizations she believed in, stayed silent about what has happened to my Naama and all the other girls who are still held hostage? … It is like they have disappeared. Their silence shouts loudly. … Naama believed in the power of women helping each other. She believed in the power of women. I am disappointed for her.”[26] To date, Michelle Obama has not spoken about or advocated for the Israeli hostages’ safe return.  Naama is well known to the world through the videos of her being dragged to a truck by a Hamas mob at gunpoint, in her bloody grey sweat pants.

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib is featured on the National Women’s History Museum website[27] and regarded as a feminist.[28] However, when a reporter asked Representative Rashida Tlaib if she supported Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ brutality and if she condoned Hamas raping women in the street, for one continuous minute, Tlaib dodged the question, remained silent, and walked quickly away from the reporter.[29]

Briahna Joy Gray, a former spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, posted on her Twitter victim shaming accusations against Israeli women: “Zionists are asking that we believe the uncorroborated eyewitness account of *men* who describe alleged rape victims in odd, fetishistic terms. Shame on Israel for not seriously investigating claims of rape and collecting rape kits.”[30] A few years ago, in 2018, in the midst of the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, Gray took the exact opposite approach when Israeli women were not involved, and tweeted, “At a minimum, it raises a negative inference. The burden is on Kavanaugh to rebut it.” Feminist author Jill Filipovic responded to Gray, noting the clear lack of logic in Gray’s hypocritic “argument” of that there are no Israeli victims to testify to the Hamas rapes, stating, “Yes it is generally the case that if you kill your victims, they can't testify against you.”[31] Bari Weiss noted, “it is hard to give testimony when you’re held underground at gunpoint in a tunnel by a terrorist.”[32]

As noted in Tablet Magazine, “[o]n Oct. 7, the violated women shouted, shrieked, cried, begged, rape after rape, cut after cut, fighting off these assaults with their voices and their bare hands as best each could. Some hostages may still be struggling. By contrast, violating every feminist principle I’ve ever read and respected, today’s feminist movement is violently, silently, consenting to this mass crime against women and against the victims from three-dozen different countries. Some even doubt the testimonials—and the staggering, bloody, heartbreaking evidence of stripped women paraded through Gaza’s streets.”[33]

Though the feminist movement has been silent or attempting to downplay or justify Hamas’ brutality on Israeli women, some Hollywood feminists have thankfully used their platforms to raise awareness and condemn Hamas’ violence on women. Sheryl Sandberg is making a documentary about Hamas’ sexual violence against Israeli women.[34] Gal Gadot has helped arrange for screenings of Bearing Witness (raw footage filmed by Hamas of its brutal October 7th attack) to Hollywood producers, agents, and actors.[35] Gwyneth Paltrow shared a story on her Instagram stating: “RAPE IS NOT RESISTANCE OR FREEDOM FIGHTING.”[36]

On March 4, 2024, almost five months after Hamas’ terrorist attack, the United Nations acknowledged[37] that there are reasonable grounds to believe Hamas raped Israeli women on October 7th, 2023.  The United Nations’ report[38] states, in part:

…there are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred during the 7 October attacks in multiple locations across Gaza periphery, including rape and gang rape, in at least three locations. Across the various locations of the 7 October attacks, the mission team found that several fully naked or partially naked bodies from the waist down were recovered – mostly women – with hands tied and shot multiple times, often in the head. Although circumstantial, such a pattern of undressing and restraining of victims may be indicative of some forms of sexual violence.

The Silence Highlights the Dire Need for Education and Promotion of Tolerance

The hypocrisy in the silence of the feminist movement and the delay in believing Israeli women is glaring and it is imperative that the world speaks up against violence against ALL women. Florida continues to lead the way in our nation by showing its strong support for Israel and education. Florida recently held “Israel Day at the Capitol”[39] on February 29, 2024. One of the speakers at that event was Millet Ben Haim, a female survivor of Hamas’ terrorist attack on October 7, 2023. She stated: “I prayed to get hit by a rocket… Because it was very clear to me that if they will see us they will rape us … and to know now what they did to so many other girls and actually some of the guys — that is devastating.”[40]  She added that survivors have had “a second circle of this trauma, as the world either stays silent or worse [is] standing up against us.”[41]

Rape is not an act of resistance, and every victim and their families deserve justice, regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion, or sex, and our role as community leaders and human beings is to ensure that history does not repeat itself. Many well-known feminists are silent because they have politicized non-political issues, yet politics should be set aside when we address human rights. The silence of feminist and human rights organizations emphasizes the need for more education and the promotion of tolerance. As Gal Gadot succinctly put it: “The world has failed the women of October 7th. We claim we stand against rape, violence against women. We will not let women be victimized and then silenced. We say we believe women, stand with women, speak out for women. … This is our moment as women and allies of women to act.”[42]

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