Orli Bach, second from left, celebrates the birthdays of all the children born in November in the refugee shelter

Orli Bach from Tel Aviv sent me this article which tells, with the privileged vision of a witness of the events, the terrible situation of a war not wanted by Israel but which is unexpectedly involving the entire population. Orli Bach is linked to our territory as the granddaughter of Yehuda Arazi, the head of the “Organization for the Alyiah Bet” in Italy after the Second World War who, before the birth of the State of Israel, led the clandestine immigration of Holocaust survivors in the Land of Israel. Yehuda Arazi organized the departure in our province of 1,014 Jews on the ships Fede and Fenice from La Spezia and of seven other ships from Bocca del Magra with 4,314 Jews who escaped the Nazi concentration camps. Orli has come to Bocca di Magra several times to retrace and visit the places of Alyiah Bet and has participated in all the events in memory and has all my solidarity.

Sandro Fascinelli

This is his story:

Today is the 40th day of the war – 40 days since the “Black Saturday”, the 7th of October, when at 06:30 in the morning we were all suddenly awakened by sirens and rockets blowing over our heads – the opening shot of our on-going worst nightmare.

As we hurriedly lock the bomb shelter, trying to catch our breath, the story begins to unveil.  It will take a few days until we begin to grasp the extent of the catastrophe- sights which bring back the horrors of the Holocaust!

Under the cover of the heavy missile attack, 3000 Hamas terrorists invaded our cities, villages and Kibbuzim in the south, slaughtering people in their beds, beheading babies in front of their parents and parents in front of their children, torturing and raping women, burning people alive, massacring hundreds of beautiful young people in a music Festival for Love and Peace… Beautiful, green villages were completely wiped out and burnt. 

 1200 killed, 239 kidnapped and dragged into Gaza as hostages, including babies, young children, women, and elderly Holocaust survivors. We can hardly sleep the last 40 nights, just imagining what might be happening to them over there … 8,000 wounded, and more than 200 missing.

300,000 people had to flee from their homes, refugees in our own country, not knowing if they would ever go back to what remained of their homes.

Over 360,000 reserve soldiers have been recruited (3 times as many as in the traumatic Yom Kippur war, which happened exactly 50 years ago) …. Daily missile attacks aiming at our homes, hospitals, schools in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and everywhere.  Our basic sense of safety in our own homes has been severely shaken.(Not to mention all the economic consequences).

Given the small size of Israel, says U.S President Joe Biden, these figures, in terms of their impact on our society, are relatively like 15 times the disaster of “Nine Eleven”. There is not one single family in Israel who has not lost some of our loved ones. I personally know a number of wonderful people, dedicated peace activists, who are gone….

(an interesting video of an Israeli peace activist)

We are going from one funeral to another. And these are only the initial figures- we are only in the beginning stages of this war, which can take many months, with blood-freezing threats of escalating any minute, God forbid, into a multi-arena, global war…

After the initial shock and horror, we are now facing a very complicated reality, with lots of extremely difficult dilemmas: As long as Hamas is on our border, none of the displaced people would ever go back to live in the south, and no sense of safety can ever be restored in Israel.  Yet, how do we eradicate Hamas, who have built 350 kilometers of fortified underground tunnels, and are hiding, with our 239 beloved hostages, underneath hospitals, schools, and refugee camps, terrorizing their own civil population, and using them as a human shield?

Our hearts are broken to see the horrible suffering of the people of Gaza too. We have continuously urged them to leave the area. Indeed, many were able to flee, but many others are forced by Hamas to stay…

Tragically, we are forced to inadvertently hurt uninvolved civilians, and thus perpetuate the cycle of grief and trauma and hatred.  Yet it looks like we have no other choice if we want to survive! …

And on top of all, how do we fight the propaganda and all the fake news, trying to portray us as the perpetrators, (such as the fake story, which has been proven completely wrong, as if we have bombed a hospital). Too many buy the Hamas narratives, and refuse to be confused by the facts…

Watching the growing Antisemitic demonstrations around the world, fueled by Islamic growing power and by the enormous wealth of Arab countries, such as Qatar, is shocking, unbelievable and horrifying for us.

“Let’s talk about democracy” – Since last January, every Friday morning we have set up “talking booths” in shopping centers in 50 different locations in Israel. We approach people who pass by and offer them a Shabbat flower, and invite them to an open dialogue.

Sometimes we feel hopelessness and even despair, but then we pull ourselves together, because we want to live, and because we cannot let the dream of the Land of Israel fall apart! Too many generations have given their all for this dream, and out of the ashes have created, against all odds, a blossoming miracle.

Yet amid this darkness, there is a big light – the Israeli spirit! – the outstanding courage and human solidarity and creativity  shown by the people.

As soon as we heard the news, men and women took their private cars and dashed south to fight and rescue other people. The heroic stories we hear daily are beyond what anyone can imagine, beyond the wildest fiction films…  

Moreover, the whole community immediately started organizing accommodations in private homes, hotels, Kibbuzim and student dorms for the refugees. The High-Tech community has developed ingenious ways to get information about the hostages. Huge warehouses were opened overnight, where people bring food, clothing, equipment, and toys.

Everyone is volunteering and helping.  We are all working around the clock, each according to our skills and talents, all free of charge. Personally, as a clinical psychologist I am doing emotional interventions with families and individuals who have been massively traumatized, and at night I answer calls on the emergency hot lines.

The nature of trauma is that it overwhelms the human psyche beyond what it can contain, it breaks the sequence of life, and it shakes our beliefs about our world, ourselves, and about human beings. This is what is happening to many of us, and our mission as a community is to collect the pieces and bring about healing and growth.  It seems like our whole country is undergoing collective trauma psychotherapy and rehabilitation.

Many go out to the farms in the abandoned villages to care for the animals and pick the fruits and vegetables.    Artists and musicians go everywhere to lift the spirit. Much like after the Holocaust, young couples insist on holding their pre-planned weddings, a powerful statement that love and life will go on! Out of the abyss a new leadership is emerging, full of integrity, vision, and determination.

 Our national anthem is titled HaTikvah – The Hope, and indeed we hope to re-build ourselves and become even stronger and better.

The other cause for optimism, which gives us strength and helps us breathe through all of this, is the strong support and encouragement we have been receiving from leaders of democratic countries of the free world and from dear friends like you!! This is so heart-warming and so crucial to us!!

 Thank you for standing by us!!

With deep gratitude!

Orli Bach

Orli Bach returning from her volunteer mission at the “Let’s Talk” dialogue stand. he unexpectedly saw this installation, stopped the car and filmed it. The name of the club was changed to HaTikvah – “Hope” Club, with an installation of 239 empty yellow chairs, on each of them the photos of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The color yellow was chosen after the famous “yellow ribbon around the old oak tree”. Walking around the circle seemed endless… It made him realize how many people had been kidnapped: unbearable!!! An ocean of pain… He began his tour of the chairs looking at the photo of Kfir, a sweet 10 month old baby, and walked all the way around until he closed the circle to look at him again… Similar installations are placed in almost every city or village in Israel.

The Italian woman who fights for the Israeli narrative – and the foreign correspondents who make her pilgrimage

Her name is Angelica Kalo Livneh, she immigrated to Israel from Italy 5 decades ago, she fell in love with Ben Kibbutz Sasa and established a home with him. She now has 3 children in the reserves, she goes to pick apples in the kibbutz groves with a gun in her belt, and to the Italian TV journalists who make a pilgrimage to her, she explains over and over again why – and how much – Israel is right. Sant’Angelica