We speak with Noy Katsman, whose brother Hayim Katsman was a peace activist killed by Hamas militants in the village of Holit on October 7, about how they are demanding the death of their sibling not be used as a pretext for more bloodshed. “What Israel is doing now is very clearly not for the security of anyone,” Katsman says of the bombing campaign. “The real reason is just revenge and killing and distraction [from] the failure of Israel to protect its citizens.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
“My call to my government: Stop killing people.” That’s the message Noy Katsman recently gave during a eulogy for their brother Hayim Katsman, an Israeli peace activist who was killed during the Hamas attack October 7th that killed 1,400 people. Israel now says 222 hostages are still being held in Gaza, after two were released Friday.
Hayim Katsman was an academic, a peace activist, a tender of fruit trees in the Holit kibbutz, about a mile from Gaza. He was credited with saving the lives of three of his neighbors on October 7th. We spoke to his Seattle, Washington, rabbi just last week, because Hayim was a graduate student at the University of Washington.
We’re joined now by Noy, Noy Katsman, who gave the eulogy for their brother.
Noy, thank you so much for being with us from Vienna. Our deepest condolences to you and your family. If you can talk about Hayim, Hayim’s life, and now what’s being done in his name, and your thoughts on what should happen right now? I think the death toll, 1,400 Israelis from October 7th, that time, and now more than 5,000 Palestinians, and the number increases even as this show airs.
NOY KATSMAN: You hear me?
AMY GOODMAN: We hear you perfectly.
NOY KATSMAN: OK. So, first of all, my father — my brother was — so, he did many things. He was also a car mechanic. He was a DJ. He was a brilliant academic. He also was a gardener. He was in charge also of the fruit trees and also of the gardens. Lately, he became in charge of the gardens in Holit. And all of the things he did, he was for peace. He was a DJ, so he was a DJ of — he played almost entirely Arabic music from the Middle East, about Palestine and Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt. He was a gardener, and he volunteered in Rahat in the garden. And Rahat is a Bedouin city in the south of Israel, near Be’er Sheva. And he also was — he was a volunteer in Masafer Yatta, where Palestinians are suffering from displacement and terror from settlers and soldiers. So he would go there and help them, protect them and use his knowledge as a car mechanic to fix the 4-by-4 car of the volunteers. And as an academic, his research was about right wing in Israel and the dangers of right wing in Israel, extreme right wing. Like, his thesis was on Rabbi Ginsburgh, and then his doctorate, he wrote about religious Zionism, where it’s my family that we came from.
AMY GOODMAN: Noy, can you talk about what Israel is doing now, the constant bombardment of the Gaza Strip, forcing the dislocation of half the population, and what looks like an imminent ground invasion, as a response to the brutality of Hamas on October 7th? Your thoughts and what you think your brother would have felt?
NOY KATSMAN: OK. So I think the most thing that is bothering me is the lack of responsibility that government in Israel are taking for many, many years. We can start it from '67, when Israel conquered Gaza Strip, and of course didn't give the citizens any citizenship or any rights. It was just a thought that, you know, Palestinians don’t need rights. I mean, they don’t need basic rights; they’ll be happy to be under our control. And sadly — not sadly, but in 1987, so, the uprising of the First Intifada, of course, proved that to be wrong, because Palestinians are also people, just like Jews and Israelis, and they want the same things like people, human beings, want.
Sadly, I don’t think Israel is taking responsibility of anything. I mean, in 2005, we got out of Gaza and were like, “OK!” I mean, we just throw it like we were never connected to it. And like, OK, let’s just let them — like no long process agreement, sustainable agreement. And sadly, after that, the 10, 15 years, Israel is doing everything to strengthen Hamas in Gaza, just because it doesn’t want a two-state solution, so it wants to divide between the Fatah and the Hamas. So, this, of course, failed, because also the Hamas is very terrible to the people in Gaza, especially LGBTs and women, which always suffer from right-wing religious government. And at the end, it of course came to us, because we can put Gaza behind fences or whatever, but the right-wing extremists of Hamas killed Israelis indiscriminately, civilians and also my left brother, who — of course, it very makes sense, you know, that the right wing kill left-wing people, because they just don’t care. They earn from the hate. They earn from the death.
AMY GOODMAN: Noy, we just have —
NOY KATSMAN: Now, some of the — yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Noy, we just have about 30 seconds, and I wanted to ask you to tell us your message to the world today.
NOY KATSMAN: OK. So, what Israel is doing now is very clearly not in the — it’s not for the security of anyone, not to people in Israel, not to people of Gaza. Some people say, “Oh, Israel is — it’s for the good of Gaza people, because we’re going to destroy Hamas.” If that’s the case, so I think Israel should make sure all of the citizens of Israel — of Gaza should have a safe place to be and maybe kill Hamas. But I don’t think it’s the real reason. The real reason is just revenge and killing and distraction of the failure of Israel to protect its citizens, because it was such a failure of protection.
AMY GOODMAN: Noy Katsman, we’re going to have to leave it there, but I thank you so much. And again, condolences on the death of your brother Hayim, which in Hebrew means “Life.” I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.