Destroyed Faith: Algemeiner
January 21, 2024
By Ben Cohen 19 January
Hamas has “taken away the faith” of Israelis in the possibility of peace with the Palestinians, Israel’s minister of immigrant absorption said in a hard-hitting interview published on Friday. “Before [the Hamas pogrom of] Oct. 7 had many people hope for peace,” Pnina Tamano-Shata told the Swiss news outlet NZZ. “Now it is more despair at which path the Palestinians have chosen.”
In a wide-ranging conversation on the sidelines of annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, over a takeaway meal delivered from a kosher restaurant in Zurich, Tamano-Shata discussed the rising wave of antisemitism globally, the perspectives of Israelis in the wake of the Hamas atrocities and her response, as a Black woman, to the accusation frequently advanced by supporters of Hamas that Israel is an “apartheid” state.
Tamano-Shata noted that at many of the kibbutzim near the Gaza border raided by Hamas terrorists, the residents “wanted to live in peace, they employed people from Gaza to give them a perspective.” Many of those Gazan employees spied for Hamas, she said, helping them to prepare the assault. “Not only Hamas terrorists invaded Israel that day, [there were] civilians who stole everything, televisions, refrigerators, clothes,” she said. “When the terrorists came back with the hostages,with Israeli children and bleeding women, they cheered that. It is a shame. Now many people in Israel realize: They want to throw us into the sea. You want Tel Aviv. You want Jaffa. You want everything.”
Asked about the profusion of pro-Hamas demonstrations in cities around the world, Tamano-Shata was scathing. “The David-and-Goliath story that Hamas defenders tell is bullshit,” she asserted. “There are 1.9 billion Muslims in the world, we Jews are only 16 million. Seven million Jews live in Israel. We are a small country, but we are strong. And we believe in our friends.”
Tamano-Shata came to Davos to highlight the ordeal of an as yet undetermined number of Israeli women who endured rape and sexual abuse at the hands of the Hamas terrorists. “We want to show what really happened on that terrible day,” she said. “That women were tortured and raped and burned alive in front of their husbands’ eyes. That children had to watch their parents mutilated and killed. We are getting more and more evidence and testimony. Many come from the terrorists we arrested. Unfortunately, few victims can speak, many were brutally killed.” She roundly condemned the silence of many international women’s organizations over these atrocities, “especially in the United Nations.” “As a woman, I have the feeling that #MeToo applies everywhere – unless you are Jewish,” she stated.
Tamano-Shata also spoke about her experience as an Ethiopian Jewish immigrant who arrived in Israel as a child. “There are problems for Black people, like everywhere in the world, unfortunately,” she said. “I’ve fought racism and discrimination all my life. That’s why I went into politics. But in recent years there has been great progress, in education, in the army. And there is a significant difference between the Ethiopian minority in Israel and the African Americans: we have not been abducted, but returned to our homeland – after Jews had lived in Ethiopia for thousands of years. The army saved us.”
Asked about the accusation of apartheid, Tamano-Shata called it “one of the most cynical things I’ve ever heard.” “Take me as an example,” she continued. “I was a migrant, a refugee child from Ethiopia. And do you know why I did it? Because I got a lot of support from the government and I wasn’t the only one. Minorities are promoted in Israel, including Arabs. They receive scholarships, they study at the university, they have equal rights, they are safe.”