What happened there is happening here – Jewish children are now scared to go…
Facing the British media in the midst of a singular tragedy like a murdered or missing loved one takes extraordinary courage.
But to stare down a mass of camera lenses whilst suffering as Noam Sagi and Sharon Lifschitz are is something else.
On Saturday their lives were infected by a nightmare of horrifying proportions. As a massacre took place in their childhood homes the pair’s elderly parents were both kidnapped.
Sharon’s mum had her oxygen mask removed before being hoisted onto a motorbike while Noam’s mother was seized without vital medication. Others were placed on motorised wheelchairs as scenes from hell were unfolded. Families were murdered and babies seized from their mother’s arms.
Being at the heart of such atrocities is brutally awful enough, but, as Noam and Sharon explained, the nature of the place they grew up amplifies the horror.
This was a Kibbutz type of Jewish settlement that sees people live with a closeness that is difficult for the minds of most 21st century Brits to comprehend.
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School teachers and neighbours were not restricted to those roles in Noam and Sharon’s lives they were far more important than that.
“These are people that wiped my bum when I was a baby, taught me how to swim and do 1+1. I know each one of them,” Noam explained, “from the age of six weeks to the age of 18. We grew up together. We saw each other more than we saw our parents.”
All of that has, in the words of the organisers of the press conference Noam and Sharon told today, Defend Israeli Democracy UK, been “exterminated.” More than three-quarters of the town are dead, the rest are missing.
But it wasn’t just the bravery to stand in front of the cameras whilst living the nightmare that was so admirable about the pair. What often seemed to stun the room of journalists was the underlying message of love and hope they strived to communicate.
When I asked them what they would say to those Brits sat at home heard their story, were moved and wondered what they could do to help, Sharon’s answer was simple.
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“The next person you see on the street smile at them, make this place work.”
It is simple, but coming from someone in her position incredibly powerful.
As Noam went on to explain, the stakes for this level of tolerance in the UK are higher than people might think. The previous evening he was told by members of the Jewish community in North London their children were scared of going to school after the attack.
“This is how what happened there is actually happening here,” he added “We must hug people and don’t push them away.”
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