The entire world has lost its soul. There were, perhaps, a mere few hours of sympathy for Israel after Hamas butchered Jewish babies and brutally attacked peace-loving kibbutzim, in an unforgivable slaughterhouse.

But now, it is as if the Earth trembled on its axis, instantly reminding itself that these victims were, after all, only Jews, who clearly don’t warrant any sympathy at all, who got what they deserved. Thus, the citizens of this inhumane planet, those who speak of loving kindness but grow bitter mold on their hearts, gather en masse, all over, in every obscure corner and every major city, in incredible throngs of inhumanity and virulent antisemitism, in scenes that would make Hitler rejoice.

As the world turns, it stops at one spot to lay blame, one nation is at fault for everything, the Jewish nation, Israel, and all of us, the Jewish people!

We respond with strength and righteousness. Am Yisrael Chai!

And where in this morass of quicksand are the hostages, the innocent prisoners captured by Hamas and subject to unknown horrors? To the world, it is as if they don’t exist. Only we, their fellow Jews, are anguished and suffering at their tortured silence.

True confession: I’ve got a long history of claustrophobia. During most of my life I never went into elevators at all, huffing and puffing up endless flights of stairs when I visited someone in a high-rise building or in a hospital or office tower. It’s only in these last 10 years or so that I’ve been forced by my old age to make the decision to ignore my claustrophobia. It’s not easy, but I now use elevators regularly.

In my most phobic days I imagined being locked in an elevator, alarm buttons not working, help nowhere to be found, and even my cell phone reading no service. I have withstood many frightening moments in my life, things like cancer and war. But, for a true phobic like I was, I am not sure I would have survived a long hiatus in a motionless elevator.

I think about that all the time these days when I consider the tragic plight of the hostages. You know exactly which hostages I mean. But the rest of the world largely seems to have forgotten them.

The situation of the hostages in Gaza is to me the fulfillment of my lifelong terror, being stuck in an endless tunnel, too much like an elevator, all enclosed, no way out, perhaps in total darkness, unable to get help, being abused by vicious guards, with complaints ignored, constant fears for survival, and the real worry that my loved ones wouldn’t know if I were alive or dead. And then, imagine, if I were a young child or even a baby, dealing with those horrors, alone and terrified. It is the ultimate nightmare.

Yet most of the rest of the world has clearly forgotten them, all 240 of them. The United Nations surely has. As have the president of France, and the Red Cross; as have administrations, instructors, and students at some of America’s formerly most prestigious universities. As have those who speak for human rights and those many political theorists and television commentators who share useless invalid opinions. The numbers of those who forget grow exponentially, except among us. No one else seems to remember who captured those innocents, who placed them in prisons far below the surface of the Earth, prisons cleverly designed by insane murderers who diverted funds given to them for feeding, fueling, and fostering civilian populations, using them instead to build hundreds of miles of subterranean tunnels, strategically situated to ward off bombings from the IDF, because they are concealed by hospitals and other communal outposts, prisons designed to use the captives and Palestinian civilians as human shields.

Only we know, and we remember, and we will survive to bring the hostages into the daylight once again.

You know exactly what I mean. But the rest of the world seems to have largely forgotten them. It is because of the inhuman criminals of Hamas who shall be condemned to die in those graveyards they call tunnels.

The pompous, arrogant demonstrators who fill the streets of major cities with their false claims against Israel, the liars, the Jew haters, each and every single one of them, do they remember the hostages? Do they spend a moment in the revelation that it was not Israel who took babies and made them captives, or who took the infirm, or the children, or the aged, or the merely young, and imprisoned them beneath the bloodstained fields of Gaza?

It was not Israel. It was Hamas. Repeat after me, it was Hamas!

Yet these self-righteous people who carry hate-filled placards into the world’s streets speak of love for mankind, and making peace not war. But why, I wonder, as do you, are they screaming at us? Why are they not screaming at Hamas? It is not paranoid to say they hate us. It is fact.

Will any, or even all, of the hostages die before they are delivered back to their loved ones? Each Yom Kippur we recite the powerful liturgy known as the U’Netaneh Tokef where we ask who will live and who will die, and how they will die. The answers remain unknown to us.

We can only pray for their prompt return to freedom. Now it is already too late. The psychological harms done to them are beyond forgiveness or redemption. And the physical? Only they and their captors know for now.

We are all hearing the world screaming at us, in their ignorance, for a ceasefire. Do they not remember that there were already four ceasefires over the years? Do they so easily forget what our enemies in Hamas did with those blocks of time? And do they remember the end of the latest ceasefire on Oct. 7, that Hamas executed a merciless, criminal murder of peaceful Israelis at work and at play? That they destroyed beautiful kibbutzim, lovingly paved and planted with shade trees and flowering plants and crops of many types, homes of families, with the aged and the infants and the voices of happy children coursing through the tranquil farmlands? That they made an expletive of the simple word Rave, used to describe a vast party of laughing young people, which is now destined to forever remain a word in infamy.

Do they not remember that in 2005 Israel totally evacuated 17 Gazan settlements known as Gush Katif? Another opportunity for peace shattered by Hamas.

Israel knows that a ceasefire will be a mere opportunity for Hamas to regroup. And the cost to Israel will be high. Much pain with no gain. No, this time the war must be conclusively completed, as difficult and arduous as that will be.

The collective anguish of Israel is indisputable. We Jews are not warmongers; we resort to armed conflict when there are no other choices. But when we are not offered peaceful paths, we must fight to the finish. Our army, the IDF, is comprised of many young idealists, innocents who long for peace, not war, but who are lovingly sent to battle for one reason only.

It pains me, personally, to say that this is no time for a ceasefire. My own flesh and blood is a soldier in this war. I would like nothing more than to bring him safely home to resume his life, his studies, his family ties, his elaborate dinner menus, his encyclopedic memory, his devotion to us, his grandparents, and his love of life and living. It is difficult for me not to know where he is. I worry constantly. And I know and understand that I am one of many thousands. But, even this is still not the time for a ceasefire. Not now.

I yearn to write a blog about normal things. I have a few lined up, ready to go. But the time for that, too, is not now. In all my life’s worries, I never expected to witness a grandson of ours fighting in a war against enemies who seek to eradicate our army and our people. All of us, parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, long for normalcy, the things that we are prepared to deal with. None of us are prepared for this.

You can reach me at rosanne.skopp@gmail.com.

Rosanne Skopp of West Orange is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of four. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. She is a lifelong blogger, writing blogs before anyone knew what a blog was!

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