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Diplomats Shown Footage from Oct. 7, Hear from Israeli-Arab Hostages’ Family and Nova Festival Survivor

B’nai B’rith International and the Permanent Delegation of Israel to the Multilateral Organizations in France held an urgent event in Paris on Dec. 13 to highlight the ongoing humanitarian consequences of Hamas’ Oct. 7 atrocities in Israel. Speakers included preeminent French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy as well as family members of Israeli-Arab hostages held in Gaza, first-responders who witnessed the carnage and a young survivor of the attack.

Uncensored footage from Oct. 7—mostly recorded and broadcast by perpetrators themselves—was also privately screened for those assembled. Lévy assailed claims that Israel has responded “disproportionately” and that Hamas’ crimes against humanity did not happen “in a vacuum.” He said there were no international calls for a “ceasefire” in operations against the ISIS terrorist group, and no mass demonstrations worldwide against Boko Haram’s slaying of fellow Muslims. He said there should be global pressure not on Israel but on Hamas, “to surrender,” and a call for Interpol to issue arrest warrants for Hamas leaders.

Israel’s Ambassador Haim Assaraf and B’nai B’rith Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels also delivered remarks, as did Joël Mergui, leader of the Consistoire de Paris, the French capital’s Jewish umbrella organization. The program was made possible with the coordination and critical support of B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider.

Among those featured were Sheikh Noaf al-Ziyadna and other members of the Ziyadna family, Bedouin from Israel, two of whose close relatives were freed from captivity in Gaza while two others, Hamza and Yousef, remain abducted there. Fouad al-Talalka, father of yet another hostage, Samer al-Talalka, was also present, alongside Shaaban el-Said, the father of Hisham el-Said who was abducted by Hamas in 2015.

Another speaker, Matan Boltax, testified about surviving the “apocalyptic” massacre at the Supernova music festival in southern Israel. Some of his friends were murdered or kidnapped. Representatives from volunteer ambulance teams, including Avi Yudkowski from United Hatzala and Mendi Haviv from Zaka, discussed the harrowing scenes and dangers they faced on Oct 7.

Michaels, who saluted Lévy’s “honesty and moral clarity” as “indispensable,” said “You here in France, in Paris, are all too familiar with violent extremism. The horrific Bataclan attacks in Paris took 130 innocent lives. The Charlie Hebdo attack took 12 lives. The Nice Bastille Day atrocity took 86. In Israel, October 7th stole some 1,200 lives—in addition to at least 240 infants, children and the elderly, women and men, abducted to Gaza. The majority of those, 67 days later, remain in captivity. In other words, for families like the Ziyadnas… October 7th did not end on October 7th.”

He continued, “If only for the sake of its own people, Hamas could end the hostilities today—by ending its violence and releasing all its hostages. But it chooses not to. Indeed, its senior official said in an interview that it plans to perpetrate October 7th over and over and over again… Our conviction is that finally ensuring basic safety for the people of Israel—and addressing the plight of those we will hear from today—would go hand in hand with delivering normalcy and a promising future also for Palestinians.”

The event, attended by B’nai B’rith France President Philippe Meyer and B’nai B’rith International UNESCO representative Stéphane Teicher, began with a menorah lighting by Rabbi David Maman, spiritual leader of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue at Paris’ Centre Européen du Judaïsme.

Watch the event here.

The Paris program follows an event held one week prior by B’nai B’rith and Israel’s Mission to the U.N. in Geneva—at the Palais des Nations, home to the Human Rights Council—on dehumanization, incitement and the violent extremist ideology behind terrorism like the Oct. 7 onslaught.

Read about the Geneva session here.