The Silence Surrounding the Sexual Violence of October 7th

During the attacks of October 7th, in a matter of hours, hundreds of Israeli women were brutally attacked, raped and murdered. And 84 women, including girls, were kidnapped and taken into Gaza.

We know much of this because the terrorists used Go-Pro cameras and phones to broadcast their sexual crimes to the world. However even after more documentation has emerged, UN Women, the United Nations’ organization that allegedly fights to end sexual violence, has still refused to condemn Hamas’ horrific sexual crimes or recognize that they even happened.

This silence prompted a group of Israeli women, including some with family members currently being held captive, to launch #MeToo_UNless_UR_a_Jew. The campaign’s goal is to gather one million signatures demanding that UN Women release a statement condemning Hamas’ human rights violations, and the terrorists’ sexual assaults against Israeli women and girls. (It should be noted that while most were Jewish, some of the female victims, including those kidnapped, are Bedouin.)

Within the first 24 hours of going live, the website had 400,000 visitors and gathered 200,000 signatures. The campaign focuses on what it seen as the UN’s “unjustified, unbelievable, unforgivable” silence.

UN Women calls itself a “global campaign for raising awareness of human violations against women,” the #MeToo_UNless_UR_a_Jew’s founders state. “But it is very clear that for UN Women, and for the UN as a whole, Jews simply do not count.”

The movement came about in a series of midnight text. Danielle Ofek, a former Vice President and Head of Hi-tech at Bank Hapoalim, and Nataly Livski, a marketing strategy expert, founded #MeToo_UNless_UR_a_Jew soon after the October 7th massacre. Noa Matz, a strategic advisor for the campaign, related on her LinkedIn page that she got a text at midnight from Ofek, whom she hadn’t spoken to in years. Ofek said she needed to ask “something quick.”

According to Matz, “that quick question grew into a mission.”

Matz said that the silence of the UN and other feminist organizations shows that “Israeli and Jewish women’s rights, bodies, souls and physical safety are not as precious as those of other women.” The global silence, she added, “gave us the push we need to take care of ourselves.”

Feminist organizations and leaders who are committed to ending violence against women have not said a word about the mass rapes of Israeli women, Sheryl Sandberg said in a recent video. “The silence about these war crimes is deafening.”

“Rape should never be an act of war,” Sandberg continued.

Yet UN Women has remained silent. In a recent op-ed in YnetNews, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, President of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli NGO that protects terror victims, asked, “Where is #MeToo? And where is UNICEF or Save the Children?”

Darshan-Leitner noted that the Geneva Convention specifies that “women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honor, in particular against rape or any form of indecent assault,” adding that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court also states, “rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, or any other form of sexual violence” is a crime against humanity. Yet, when it comes to Hamas’ sexual crimes against women and girls, she said, leading authorities have said nothing.

What makes Hamas’ horrific crimes seem even worse is what many call “the gaslighting of Jewish women.” Even after horrific scenes are shown around the world, denial grows online, including claims that these crimes didn’t really happen. One chilling video released by Hamas that is circulating widely shows a young woman’s mutilated body being paraded through the streets in Gaza while men pulled at her hair, sat on her, and spat on her lifeless body.

The brutality is senseless, yet some brand this as “resistance.” The minimizing of these crimes makes Israeli and Jewish women feel even more vulnerable and doubly victimized.

And the chilling, cruel responses on social media have prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel to launch another campaign with the hashtag, #BelieveIsraeliWomen. As if Jewish women cannot be believed the way other women are.

According to an article in by British journalist Nicole Lampert, London’s first Victims’ Commissioner, Claire Waxman, asked the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls, Reem Alsalem, why the organization has stayed silent. Alsalem claimed the evidence was “not solid” enough to warrant a statement, which defies the imagination, considering that the terrorists themselves filmed their attacks. In response, Waxman asked, “How can we talk about eliminating violence against women and girls if we are tacitly saying it’s acceptable to rape Jewish ones?”

November 25 is the UN’s International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls. That is, all women and girls except for Jews.

To sign the petition and find out what you can do to help, go here.