Rosa Doherty

Why are the Bibas family not the focus of everyone with a conscience?

Because human beings consistently fail to see humanity in people who are different to them or “on a different side”


Shiri Bibas and sons Ariel and Kfir, taken hostage from Kibbutz Nir Oz d

June 05, 2024 10:46

I don’t know a Jewish woman who hasn’t spent a day since October 7 without thinking about the Bibas family.

While the hostages have largely been forgotten by the outside world, in the Jewish community their stories permeate everything.

The image of Shiri Bibas clutching her two young children, Ariel and Kfir, and the look of terror on her face as terrorists bundled them away in scenes of chaos on October 7 has never left me.

That, along with the sadistic propaganda video released by Hamas of them telling her husband, Yarden, also still a hostage, that they are all dead.

In many ways for me, and I am sure for other Jewish women, the image of Shiri and her babies defined October 7. It defined the evil, frenzied way in which terrorists set their sights on the most vulnerable and innocent people. It symbolised the lack of mercy and the targeted commitment to terror they set out with.

Maybe I have thought so much about Shiri because I find her so easy to relate to, as a Jewish mother of similar age children. Naively, perhaps, I had never given much thought to the kind of harm others might want to cause me or my children because of our ethnicity or faith. But Shiri and her children woke me up to that potential in a way I wish had never happened.

When my superhero-obsessed son was recently given a Batman costume and ran around our garden with glee pretending to be him, instead of pangs of joy I felt an aching sadness.

I was reminded of the videos of Ariel in the same costume running happily into the distance enjoying the same joyful freedom as my son. Only Ariel isn’t feeling any of that freedom now and he won’t have felt it since that awful day when he and his little brother (who was just nine months at the time and the youngest person seized) were kidnapped.

Since that day we’ve been confronted with the never-ending scenes of horror that have befallen the children of this war, in Israel and in Gaza. Each time I am confronted with them, the feelings of despair and sadness can feel overwhelming.

In general, but with this war especially, I have found social media to be a magnifying glass to the ways in which human beings fail consistently to see humanity in people who are different to them or “on a different side.”

And the Bibas family have provided a window into that ugly world. Who could be more innocent than a nine-month-old baby and his four-year-old brother, stolen and held captive in a terror tunnel because they are Jewish?

Are they not deserving of attention? Why are they not on the social media profiles of everyone with a conscience? Outside our community we hear very little about the baby stolen by terrorists because he was Jewish. There is certainly no huge global concern.

While the world's gaze is understandably on the scenes that we have seen unfolding since October 7, it should not forget the scenes that led them there.

June 05, 2024 10:46

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