Friday, December 01, 2023

  • Friday, December 01, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon
Haaretz reports:

[Dr. Cochav] Elkayam-Levy, of the department of international relations at Hebrew University, really does want to reduce interest in her personally, but the truth is that during the past weeks she has been playing a key role in directing attention to one of the especially nightmarish chapters of the nightmare of October 7. The Civil Commission on October 7 Crimes by Hamas against Women and Children, which she founded, is casting a spotlight on the acts of rape and other sex crimes committed by the terrorists under the “aegis” of the attack on the south.

During these past weeks, the women of the nongovernmental commission have been hard at work gathering testimony and documentary materials related to the day of the massacre, with the aim of putting together a database of crimes against women and children. They are assembling one account after another, one piece of evidence after another, and gradually putting together all the pieces of the puzzle. The aggregation of the evidence presents a horrifying picture that leaves no room for doubt: Under cover of the massacre, Hamas carried out a campaign of rape and sexual abuse at many of the communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip that it attacked.

Elkayam-Levy is a lawyer and scholar of international law, gender and human rights – a combination that seems to have prepared her in advance to head such a commission. Nonetheless, she says, “I never thought my work in international law and feminist theory would intersect in such a shocking way,” she says.
... Last month, when Elkayam-Levy was invited to speak on a panel organized by several different Jewish student groups at Harvard University, she felt that the time was right to present some of the evidence to the world.

When her turn to speak came, she delivered a detailed warning about the difficult things she was about to describe, took a deep breath and began a horrifying survey. She recounted a long list of evidence about acts of rape, including gang rape, disfigurement and other acts of abuse. She described a number of videos that Hamas distributed in which naked women are seen, with signs on them that leave little room for doubt. In one case, the victim was taken to Gaza with no clothes on and unconscious, and displayed before a cheering crowd. Pictures that had come into her hands showed other victims of sex crimes. She also read out several chilling descriptions by eyewitnesses of acts of rape.

...After eight minutes of stomach-churning monologue, she asked to stop. “Never in my life had I imagined I would face my colleagues to talk about gender-based war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out against Israeli women and children on such a large scale,” she says, “and we are assuming that many more cases will surface in the future.”

“We connected one testimony to the next,” Elkayam-Levy says. “Suddenly seeing the big picture, how systematic it was, the extent of the violence – it was a punch in the stomach.”
Elkayam-Levy's frustration at how the international community and media are treating this topic is palpable:

“All kinds of vague statements are beginning to come out,” she notes, “calling upon both sides to ‘show restraint,’ and simply making October 7 vanish from the timeline. A parallel universe. The terrible betrayal we have felt has developed into a feeling that we are now the victims of wild incitement directed at us. At very early stages of the war, those organizations began running campaigns about the genocide Israel is carrying out in Gaza. I am very uncomfortable saying this, but those organizations have shown themselves to be antisemitic bodies.

“The moment those organizations keep silent, or do not report the truth, we have a problem,” she continues. “It is untenable that experts who are supposed to responsive to women’s distress everywhere are subordinating themselves to political considerations, and are not reporting what happened in a disaster of this magnitude. It is incomprehensible that agencies of the UN that are responsible for [promoting and safeguarding] women’s rights are ignoring the Israeli women who were taken hostage, or were murdered and raped by Hamas.”

In Elkayam-Levy’s view, this is a replication of those same denial mechanisms often applied concerning individual cases of rape. “When a woman is raped, the discourse immediately revolves around evidentiary questions – is there or is there not evidence of rape? Doubt is cast on the woman, her reliability is questioned, and a question mark is posed as to whether it did or did not happen. This casting of doubt is now directed against us at the collective level.

“Questions are asked like: Is there or isn’t there semen? Was there or wasn’t there a rape kit? Those same female jurists with international reputations who are conducting this discussion apparently do not have a basic understanding of international law. International law does not talk the language of the individual case. My call to them is to look beyond those denial mechanisms. You are facing a bunch of respected women and telling them that shocking crimes were committed here. Am I the one who needs to provide the evidence for the terrorists’ deeds? What kind of travesty is it that they are imposing the burden of proof on me?
...“There are journalists who contact me and ask: Did it [a particular rape] really happen? It’s like, what are we even talking about? This is about the most documented set of horrors humanity has known. There are innumerable videos that have already been released – just go into the Hamas Telegram groups. You are journalists, do your work. Don’t ask me what happened and how it happened. It is hard enough that I need to go through those groups myself to extract information from them.”

Dr. Elkayam-Levy appears on this very hard to watch video of a press conference on this topic two weeks ago.

She describes [59:23] how her commission gathered evidence about the story that came out in the first days after October 7, of a pregnant woman whose child was cut out of her body - a story that was immediately ignored or doubted by commenters and the media. Yet as time went on, the commission gathered more and more evidence that, yes, it really happened, and it was even worse than first reported:

I want to bring one one example we've heard from the in the first week of the war of a pregnant woman found slaughtered.  It was broadcast in international media in the second weekend.  We were shocked we're like 'could it be that they took a baby out of a woman's womb?'  

The second week of the war we've heard about it from the rescue teams; we got a report that the rescue team collected a body of a woman and the baby. And the third week or a few days afterwards we got the information from Shua  from treating the body of of this woman.  

And the most terrible thing is that last week we got the video of this woman..

Now I didn't know what really happened to her, we could only imagine,  but to see the video - I didn't see it,  I had a person next to me describing exactly what it is,  I couldn't watch - it was alive.  I didn't imagine that she was alive,  I don't know,  I just imagined that she was dead while they did it,  but that she was alive,  she had her mouth covered with something,  her breasts were cut while she was screaming and tortured,  the baby they cut it up, they cut open her belly.  I couldn't really  understand that this has happened.  

Her anguish comes through in the video.  She notes that for every case like this where the evidence came out and was clear, there are plenty where there is no video, no smoking gun.

But when the known evidence is examined and verified, it is undeniable that Hamas used sexual violence as a weapon of terror. It is sick that the media is asking for specific evidence in other cases. There is not going to be video for every woman without underwear who was bleeding from between her legs showing that she was raped - but the way the media and pundits are framing this, without a rape kit and video then we must assume Hamas is innocent.  

All while they believe the most ludicrous anti-Israel claims with no evidence whatsoever.

The sexual abuse stories are a double crime - not only Hamas' physical attacks on these women, but the world's refusal to believe the victims. As Elyakam-Levy points out, the skeptical  treatment of Israeli testimony is directly analogous to how individual rape victims are not believed or expected to bring high levels of evidence for their trauma.

This is todays' antisemitism. 

(h/t Irene)

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