Connect with us


‘We are showing the world what people do’: grim relics of Hamas attack go on display in New York



While New York was preoccupied with student protests over the US’s ­support of Israel’s war in Gaza last week, another aspect of how the city with the largest Jewish population outside Israel is coming to terms with bloodshed in the Middle East was being prepared.

On Wall Street, a gruelling ­exhibition has opened detailing the horrific attack on the Nova music festival by Hamas terrorists on 7 October, in which 364 people were murdered, many wounded and 44 taken hostage.

It is a walk-through recreation of hours of unimaginable ­brutality by the attackers, containing the tents, bedding and possessions of those at the festival, alongside ­jubilant Hamas videos of the attacks, as well as survivor and rescue worker ­testimony in the aftermath.

The items include handbags, burnt-out cars, missing sneakers, bullet-riddled bathroom stalls, the stage from which DJs played their sets, and some evidence of ritualised sexual violence.

It concludes with a room of ­photographs of the young ­people who were killed, and the ­declaration: “We will dance again.”

The memorial room to those who were killed at the festival. Photograph: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

“It’s an invitation to feel, touch, smell the Nova community,” said the exhibition’s creative director, Reut Feingold.

“It’s not only the tragedy, but also the life before 7 October. We want people to go through the journey, and to feel the community. Nova is about hope, and it was ­important that it was just authentic things from the festival, no decorations. No virtual reality. Just the truth.”

Feingold’s husband, Yoni, told the Observer that their aim was to widen the story of the event.

“Hundreds of people from all over the world, DJs from Brazil, Europe and America, came to ­celebrate love, peace and brotherhood. It could have happened anywhere, the viciousness, and we feel that the world doesn’t really know what ­happened. These people weren’t ­soldiers: they had come to dance.”

Feingold added: “The festival had nothing to do with politics.

“It was about music and unconditional love.”

But it is almost impossible to view the exhibition without reference to what came before and after.

The lost shoes, clothes and purses left behind when the ­festivalgoers fled is reminiscent of the displays at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Yoni confirmed that when the exhibits were shown in Tel Aviv they had given some people a sense of the Holocaust.

skip past newsletter promotion

But there is no ­acknowledgment of what has come since in Gaza, where an estimated 34,000 ­people have died and a million have been displaced in the Israel Defense Forces’ effort to root out Hamas ­terrorists and recover the hostages taken on 7 October.

Natalie Sanandaji, a survivor of the attack, look at some of the festival’s toilets, some of which are riddled with bullets. Photograph: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

“It’s very, very complicated, and these are things we are not ­dealing with here,” Yoni said. “We made a decision to show the world what people can do. There’s a denial, and people are just trying to wipe it out as if it never happened, just like the Holocaust.”

Unlike older terrorist attacks, the amount of mobile phone footage, WhatsApp video and text messages, from both attackers and victims, makes 7 October an event that is unlikely to fade quickly. Observers point out that the 9/11 attacks are only remembered through TV broadcasts and messages left on answering machines. There is ­comparatively little coming from Gaza, but what there is – often via TikTok – is similarly sickening.

“There was never a situation that was so photographed in real time,” said Yoni of the events of 7 October. “So it is going to be there, and we have a purpose to bring our ­people back home. This is not an imaginary world.”

Questions have been raised about how much is necessary to show. In one room, the curators display a pair of men’s shorts shot through the crotch with bullets.

The Feingolds say people do not have the right to their own ­conception of what happened. “You have to see everything to be ­educated,” said Yoni.

Continue Reading