We Must Not Look Away
Ruth Peretz was 16 years old. She had cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy; she was nonverbal and used a wheelchair. But she loved music. So her father, Erick, brought her to the desert concert in Israel that was so brutally attacked by Hamas.
Ruth and Erick were among the missing for days, but they have both now been found dead. I hate to say that I figured as much: No matter how many hostages Hamas wanted, the terrorists would have considered Ruth too much work. Keeping her alive would have required a tenderness likely unknown to them.
Hamas hated Ruth and Erick because they were Jewish. Never mind that he was simply a father who loved his daughter and who made sacrifices for her. We cannot forget them.
We’re only a couple of weeks into the attack on Israel, and many in the West have already forgotten the existential war being waged on Ukraine — as if we can’t recognize multiple injustices at the same time. But even among multiple large-scale tragedies, the particularly insidious evil of antisemitism insists we look at the human faces of these recent attacks in a particularly personal way.
The Victims of Evil Have Human Faces
Dr. Eitan Ne’eman was a 45-year-old pediatrician and father of seven. On his first day on the front lines, he was killed. He grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem with five older sisters. In a statement, the hospital where he worked said that Ne’eman “was saving lives on the first day of combat, in the trauma room in Soroka, and was recruited into the reserves to help rescue and save more lives. May his memory be for a blessing.” In the last photo taken of him, he was praying. Perhaps his prayers are all the more powerful now.
“They’re here. They’re in the clinic. I don’t think I’ll make it out of here. I love you.” Those were the last words 22-year-old paramedic Amit Mann sent her sister over WhatsApp. Mann was in her clinic, working to save lives in Kibbutz Be’eri. Her sister told a reporter: “My heart is broken and bleeding. I just can’t take in the bad news. … (Amit) was the princess of our home, the light of our lives who … tried saving lives until the last moment when she was murdered by evil terrorists. We love you so much. You’ll always be the heroine love of our lives.”
Speaking of reporters: What horror, to be there and to see what Hamas has done — only to have people in the West not believe what you report. Hamas wants us to see their evil and be terrified. I abhor seeing, let alone releasing, graphic images of torture and death. And yet, many people don’t believe the depths of evil that we humans are capable of. So it is necessary to release some images of it, to show others: THIS is how much Jews are hated. THIS is how demonic man can become.
The Inhumanity Cries Out
The inhumanity cries out, demanding that we look at as many human faces as we can, never forgetting those eradicated from this earth because of pure hatred.
Days ago, author J.K. Rowling highlighted a smiling photo of 12-year-old Harry Potter fan Noya Dan. Noya was autistic and was visiting her grandmother in Israel. Speaking Hebrew, Noya shared a voice message with her mother: “Mom, there was a big boom at the door that scared me. All the windows in Grandma’s house were broken at the entrance. Because there was another boom, there are many broken windows. Mommy … I’m scared.” She and her grandmother have since been counted among the murdered.
During a press conference, the newly elevated Catholic cardinal of Jerusalem offered his life in exchange for children being held hostage by Hamas. It wasn’t clear how much he had thought his offer through — even though the terrorists will likely never take him up on it — but it was the right answer for a Christian. Jesus, of course, gave His life for others.
In all of the barbarity, if any of this can make us more willing to look at each human face with love, no life so horrifically ended will be in vain. Please, keep looking at the human faces and reading the stories of family and hope and love.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living. She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York, and is on the board of the University of Mary. She can be contacted at [email protected].