An open letter to Israelis from Israelis: We deserve the truth about October 7

The following text was published Oct. 31 in English and Hebrew in the Mondoweiss, a virtual newsletter that “has grown within the progressive Jewish community” [in the U.S.] according to Describing the letter, the Mondoweiss editors write: “The following statement was written by a group of Israeli citizens who want to remain anonymous for their safety and out of fear of government reprisal.”

Workers World’s position on Gaza, Palestine and Oct. 7 is in clear solidarity with the Palestinian resistance. Assuming this letter has some distribution inside Israel, however, we publish it to inform our readers.

To our fellow Israelis,

We call to you from the fog of genocide. We grieve and we fret for “our own,” as well as those most of you ignore or regard as “animals.”

When Israeli military officials began spreading rumors through English-speaking Israeli media about “beheaded babies,” we were immediately struck. We realized our government’s propaganda would not be the same as it was in previous murderous attacks on Gaza. 

While Israel continues churning out images of supposed “Hamas buildings” in the Gaza concentration camp (what isn’t, in Israeli eyes?), to excuse their bombing, Israel’s domestic and international rhetoric now contains something much more akin to Nazi extermination propaganda. 

We know what the purpose of this propaganda is. More than 8,500 indigenous Palestinian children, women and men have been exterminated — and the number rises as we write. Many are trapped under the rubble of their homes, dying slowly. Others are facing thirst, starvation and infectious diseases. At the same time, senior Israeli figures, even our president, keep howling that there are “no innocent civilians” in Gaza. 

Make no mistake, what Israel is doing in Gaza now will haunt Israelis for decades. Now is the time to make sure all Israelis understand this. And this understanding should start with full disclosure about the events of Oct. 7, 2023.

Here are a few demands that each Israeli should be making right now, even if they deny the ongoing Gaza genocide. The first one is a comprehensive list of all the Israeli victims who have been identified. There is no comprehensive list on an official government website. The list published by Ha’aretz is partial. Some names are waiting to be “cleared for publication,” and we would like to know what this means. 

The lack of a comprehensive list, three weeks in, leads to the next demand Israeli citizens must make — the establishment of an official investigation commission. Massive failures on the part of intelligence and combat units, as well as the Israeli insistence on turning Gaza into an open-air prison in the preceding decades, should obviously be addressed by such a commission. We would like to know how these failures contributed to civilian fatalities on Oct. 7 and the following days. 

Furthermore, according to Hamas’s spokesperson, 50 Israeli captives have already been killed as a result of our government’s decision to carpet-bomb Gaza. You may or may not find the Hamas spokesperson to be a reliable source, but we know that Israeli captives, loved ones of many here, have been dispersed throughout the strip, and Israel does not seem to know their precise location. 

Israeli citizens should ask themselves whether they support indiscriminate bombing that threatens the lives of captives. An exchange deal is on the table. We know that Hamas has been offering this from day one. Israel’s blind genocidal revenge ignores the well-being of Israeli captives. 

And while our military exterminates human beings in Gaza, Israeli Hasbara (propaganda) platforms are in overdrive, especially abroad. The charred remains of loved ones are paraded around, nameless, contextualized only by dehumanizing calls to eradicate the inmates of the Gaza concentration camp. Upon seeing these images, aimed at a Western audience and with complete disregard for survivors’ families, we note once more that all of us deserve precise information as to who these victims are and how they died. 

Without an independent investigation, we can only hope to piece together sporadic articles and testimonies of survivors. Conspiracy theories will flourish. We’re already seeing attempts to deny the very fact of Israeli civilians being killed by Hamas fighters. 

Moreover, we reject Israeli attempts to label its fallen soldiers and other security operatives as terror victims equivalent to civilian fatalities. If an Israeli soldier is just an Israeli civilian, an Israeli civilian is just a soldier. We reject this dangerous equation. 

Lastly, the question of who killed some Israeli civilians haunts us. It emerges from several reports that some were killed by the Israeli military. Whether they were caught in the crossfire, or deliberately shot at with tanks or helicopters in order to eliminate Hamas fighters or prevent Hamas from taking more captives, we deserve an answer. 

We demand answers because a genocide is being perpetrated in Gaza in the name of Israeli victims, even though bereaved families are strongly opposed to this vengeful atrocity. We demand answers and so should you.

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