How do you report that a Jewish peace activist thought to have been taken hostage on October 7th was, in fact, killed in the initial attacks?
If you are Canadian TV News, you leave out the messy details and just report that she “has died.”
There is a lot to be unpacked in those two words, and CTV made sure not to unpack them.
People who had a heart attack “have died.” A fatal stroke? “They died.” Tripped and fell? She died.
Deeply sad news… Vivian Silver, the peace activist, who we thought had been kidnapped to Gaza, in fact died during the Oct 7 attack on Kibbutz Be’eri.
DNA analysis of remains has identified Vivian, 74.
This is a woman who dedicated her life to peace – who built bridges with… pic.twitter.com/YXY3OVlaiB
— Tim Samuels (@TimSamuels) November 14, 2023
Killed in a terrorist attack, and thought to have been taken hostage because her body was burned beyond recognition?
This is not described in the passive voice. This was an intentional act of murder.
So who is Vivian Silver? She was a Canadian-Israeli peace activist whose life work was helping Palestinians in the Gaza Strip get medical attention and other aid.
Ms. Silver was known for her commitment to peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. After the war in Gaza in 2014, she co-founded Women Wage Peace, which lobbies for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. She also helped found and direct the Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation and served for years on the board of directors of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.
Ms. Silver regularly drove sick Palestinians from Gaza, near her home, into Israel for medical treatment as part of the Road to Recovery organization.
Silver actually communicated with her son during the attack by texting him back and forth. He was in contact with her throughout the attack and until she knew the end was near.
Zeigen said he texted with his mother during the attack. The exchanges started out lighthearted, with Silver maintaining her sense of humor, he said. Suddenly, he said, there was a dramatic downturn when she understood the end had come, and militants stormed her house.
Silver, it must be said, likely would not have been a fan of Israel’s response to the attacks, although we will never know. She firmly believed that a diplomatic solution to the conflict was possible, and did her best to achieve that goal through her individual efforts and through her work with peace organizations.
“We went through three horrific wars in the space of six years,” Silver said in a 2017 interview with The Associated Press. “At the end of the third one, I said: ‘No more. We each have to do whatever we can to stop the next war. And it’s possible. We must reach a diplomatic agreement.’”
Zeigen said he has now taken on his mother’s baton.
“I feel like I’m in a relay race,” he said. “She has passed something on to me now. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but I think we can’t turn the clock back now. We have to create something new now, something in the direction of what she worked for.”
Out of respect for her, I won’t use this opportunity to argue for the justice of Israel’s response, and that isn’t the point of this post. And I sincerely hope that one day her vision comes to pass. It won’t be any time soon, unfortunately.
Instead, I want you to think of how CTV chose to describe it: “She died” is technically true, but utterly undescriptive of what occurred.
She was murdered in a rampage that took the lives of 1400 people. That included the rape of young women, who were paraded around as trophies. A rampage in which terrorists called their parents to exult in their murdering people.
“She died” doesn’t encapsulate the truth. It hides it. As it was meant to.