I will never be the same. I was invited to the United Nations one month ago to watch the unedited footage put together by the Israeli embassy of the barbaric murder, beheading, and burning alive of innocent Israelis. There was no mercy whether it be babies, women or men. There was no sympathy. There was no semblance of humanity by the Hamas terrorists who gleefully reported back how many Jews they had killed. In one particularly jarring scene, a father was murdered in front of his 2 sons (one of whom was half blinded by the attack) who sat crying in disbelief, “abba (father) is dead, abba is dead.”
The scenes were so real and emotionally draining that about halfway through I literally had to walk out of the room for five minutes. (On my Instagram @ariacker I reshared a video taken by an Israeli reporter who taped me walking out – I did not know I was being taped and you can see the anguish and heartache that consumed my soul.) My heart simply could not handle that this really happened. Let alone that it is 2023, less than 80 years after the Holocaust. Further, it happened in the Jewish ancestral homeland, reestablished to make sure the “never again” of atrocities and attempted genocide against the Jewish people would be possible.
So why did I go? What made me want to put myself through the agony when I already knew what had happened?
First, I felt it was my obligation to bear witness to these atrocities so I could report on them. As Jews we are repeatedly placed in the position of having to prove the hatred towards us. Beheadings, indiscriminate killing. torture was literally taped by the terrorists themselves. Yet still many of the world is asking, “where is the proof?” I now have the evidence and answers.
Second, I am exhausted by the chorus of Jewish haters who I call the “But’s.” It’s the all-too-common refrain… “But that doesn’t justify Israel’s retaliation,” “But Israel doesn’t have a right to self defense,” “But Israel brought this upon themselves,” “But Israel is not responding in a proportionate way.”
I saw these horrific tapes to prove the necessity of the complete annihilation of Hamas. There is nothing that Israel has done that could ever justify brutally raping women and taking child hostages. Further, what happened on Oct. 7 was, on a per capita basis, 15 times the scale of 9/11. What would the United States do to a country that killed 30-40,000 Americans? Would any President show restraint? The unambiguous response is NO. Our leaders would send the full force of our military until the enemy was destroyed. Preciously what Israel is doing now.
Third, as 2024 approaches we hardly hear anything about the attacks of Oct. 7. We do not hear a lot about the hostages – babies, toddlers, women, Holocaust survivors who are undoubtedly facing inconceivable torture and suffering. The world seems to forget or not care how the war started. Even worse, many of our youth, who get their news from TikTok, do not know anything about Oct. 7—all they see are videos about Israel’s response and images of the victims in Gaza. Make no mistake, I, like most other Jews, feel bad for those who are unnecessarily suffering. However, what is missing in all these reports, is that Hamas wanted, planned for, and started this war. A war that Israel has been trying to avoid since Hamas was established in 1987. The video I watched is a reminder that Hamas is to blame for a war inflicted on the people they were elected to protect.
I will never be the same after witnessing the atrocities in the video. However, anyone that has ever spoken to me knows that I have a fanatic like passion to do all I can for the survival, safety and continuity of the Jewish people. I wear my Jewishness on my sleeve, and nothing will change that. I saw the footage to do my part in making sure never again is never again after Oct. 7. It is time for the world to see Hamas for what it is – an evil terrorist organization. If every single person in the world needs to see the footage of the atrocities (with the approval of the families affected) to understand this, then it is time for everyone to “never be the same.”
Ari Ackerman is an entrepreneur, strategic investor and philanthropist. He serves on the boards of several leading Jewish organizations including having been the National Young Leadership Cabinet Co-chair for The Jewish Federations of North America. He was the founder of Bunk1.com and is currently a partner of the Miami Marlins.