The Untold Story of Israel After October 7th

Israel flag

The national awakening you won’t hear about in the media.

The story of what happened after Oct 7 has played out in the international media as a montage of bombs and rubble. And while Israel’s campaign against the Hamas perpetrators of the horrific massacres, rapes and kidnappings is an important part of the story, it is not the only one.

From the men who grabbed their guns and drove south in the hours after the attack began to the warehouses quickly set up to provide food and clothing for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who were forced to leave their homes after the attacks from Gaza, inside Israel, the real story has been defined by a country coming together not only to fight, but to support each other.

In the month after the attacks, one survey estimated that the majority of Israeli Jews were volunteering in one form or another at everything from baking cookies for soldiers to standing guard at potential terrorist targets. With hundreds of thousands of soldiers mobilized and hundreds of thousands of people stranded, even the most ordinary things became a problem.

Like laundry.

A Chassidic rabbi loaded up washing machines and dryers on trucks and headed with them to an army base. Laundry from displaced families was crowdsourced through social media groups with messages like, “there are at least 2000 people from Sderot who need help with their laundry. If you can help with doing one or two loads please reach out.”

Both religious and secular groups assembled massive warehouses filled with clothing and supplies for displaced people. Restaurants have set up meals and volunteers have deployed mobile kitchens in parking lots. And tens of thousands volunteer to cook in their own homes.

Weddings and bar mitzvahs have gone forward for refugee families welcomed by communities. Teenagers have volunteered to babysit and to perform household chores for military families.

At farms, including in the communities targeted by the Islamic terrorist invaders, tens of thousands headed to help. In one kibbutz, a “motley dozen-strong crew ranging from housewives to engineers and stockbrokers” could be found “tending to around 600 dairy cows”.

Polly Levine, the daughter of longtime David Horowitz Freedom Center supporter Tammy Steinsapir, recently wrote about her experiences doing everything from preparing food boxes to planting broccoli. “I was surprised to see hundreds of volunteers from all over the world: Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, France, Mexico and beyond,” she wrote.

And in grimmer work, in the days after the attacks, volunteers arrived to dig graves to bury the over 1,000 dead. “Google docs were sent out on community WhatsApp groups and it wasn’t unusual for empty 2 a.m. slots to be filled within minutes in the race to honorably bury the dead.”

“We had 50 people yesterday,” a police officer said. “Now the invitation to volunteers has gone viral, and we’re worried 5,000 could turn up.”

And there are the armed volunteers putting their lives on the line.

After the attacks, hospitals asked anyone with a gun license to volunteer as a guard. Other volunteer guards rallied to protect kindergartens in Jerusalem after the soldiers who usually defend them were summoned to war. While normal kindergartens don’t require soldiers or guards, Islamic terrorists have repeatedly targeted Israeli children. In one notorious incident in 2011, Hamas even fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus. Fortunately it hit only after most of the children had disembarked and only one teenage boy was wounded in the terrorist attack.

600 civilian security squads were established after the attacks and armed with thousands of rifles. These squads help patrol and secure communities likely to be targeted by terrorists. Volunteer forces had played a crucial role in countering the Hamas invasion at a time when the Israeli military had been caught by surprise and was outnumbered by the attacking terrorists.

The volunteerism is only the outward expression of a country at war. At a Shabbat table, I heard the story of a woman who calmly stated, “my husband is in the army, my father is in the army and my son is in the army”. After the Oct 7 attacks, reporting rates in some reserve units passed 100% with personnel showing up who had not even been called up. One viral video shows a 73-year-old “soldier” visiting his 101-year-old mother and then standing watch in the rain.

And that solidarity is really the untold story of what happened after Oct 7.

Turn on CNN and you’ll see the same montage of crying old women in hijabs and wrecked buildings that seems to have been running as a constant feed in the region since the rise of cable news, but in Israel, the story is not just the war, it’s also the peace. Before Oct 7, Israel had been tearing itself apart along political and religious lines. The underlying tensions haven’t gone away, and every Hamas hostage offer calculatedly plays on those same divisions.

But Israel has also come together to a remarkable extent. That’s not a story which interests the media, but it ought to interest us because our hope for the future also lies in solidarity. In the years since 9/11, 7/7 or the other numberless Islamic terror atrocities that should have marked an awakening, we have learned all too well that superior weapons are not enough to win a war.

Wars are not just won or lost with firepower, but with the spirit of a people. The food baskets, clothing warehouses, volunteer guards, cooks and even gravediggers represent something as important, and perhaps even more important, than a military force: a national spirit.

“I see mothers of soldiers on the front lines volunteering in supermarkets. I see rabbis leaving their communities, traveling 48 hours across multiple countries to return home and fight for their country.” an email circulating after Oct 7 read. “I see police officers feeding bottles to babies who no longer have parents. I see teenage girls with flags at 2:30 in the morning dancing for soldiers who have returned to fight who simply cannot believe their eyes.”

The war against Islamic terrorism is not only a physical war, it is a spiritual war. Fighting it with weapons, but without conviction, with drones but without a national revival, has failed and will go on failing. Islamic terrorists do not just attack our bodies, they seek to destroy our spirit. They divide us in order to conquer us, they terrorize us and then play the victims, and they make every effort to convince us of the futility and wrongness of our cause so that they may defeat us.

Israel has long been the canary in the coal mine of Islamic terrorism. It has shown us how to physically fight terrorism. Perhaps it will now show us how to awaken our nations to the war.

Daniel Greenfield

Photo: Letalk

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About the Author

Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism. Daniel’s journalism is seen across the internet and is a regular contributor to Front Page Magazine.