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Family and friends of siblings Noa and Gideon Chiel, who were killed at the Nova party mourn during their funeral on October 18, 2023 in Achuzat Barak, Israel. (Amir Levy via Getty Images)

The Stories—and Stakes—of War in Israel

‘I didn’t think you could live much longer in that smoke, in that hellish place. And now I see it was so much worse for other people. So much worse.’

If you’ve been following The Free Press for the past ten or so days, you’ve noticed that we’ve been covering the war in Israel nonstop. We’ve never produced this much content in this short of a time about a single subject. Some of you might be thinking, why? 

On October 7, we saw the single biggest massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust. But unlike the Holocaust, in which Germans tried to hide their war crimes, here the terrorists are streaming them in real time across the internet. When the reports, and the videos, started circulating, we thought: surely this amount of blood and horror will be enough to shake the world awake. 

And yet, it wasn’t. 

Internationally, some of the most educated people—including students, professors, and administrators at the most elite universities in the world—have either equivocated or remained silent in the face of mass atrocities. Others, by the tens of thousands, have taken to the streets to rejoice in the terrorist attack, screaming “resistance is justified” and “glory to the martyrs.” 

That is why this story matters. Because this is not just a war in a faraway land; it’s a battle for civilization itself. As my friend Sam Harris recently said, “There are not many bright lines that divide good and evil in our world, but this is one of them.” 

This war should matter to everyone—not just Jews—who care about the future of civilization. Because if there is one lesson from history, it’s that what starts with the Jews never ends with them. And societies in which the Jewish people are persecuted are societies in which no one is safe. 

That is why we will continue to report on this war with such urgency. 

On today’s episode, you’ll hear just nine of the stories from the more than three dozen Israelis we have spoken to since the attacks on October 7. We talk to a woman, Shaked, who tells us that eleven of her family members—including her three- and eight-year-old niece and nephew—were taken hostage by Hamas. We talk to survivors of the Nova music festival, like Amit and Chen, who miraculously escaped. We talk to a father whose son, Hersh, was kidnapped from the music festival, and to a mother whose daughter, Oriya, was killed there. We talk to a grandmother who hid in the safe room of her home for hours with her 10-day-old grandson as terrorists shot at them from the other side of the door. 

These stories are difficult to hear. But we will keep reporting them, and hope that you will take the time to listen them, and to share.

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