November 8, 2023 : By Christian Shields - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
In the wake of the recent attack on Israel by the terrorist organization Hamas, Liberty University welcomed Israeli brothers Jonathan (Yonatan) and Ido Lulu-Shamriz to Convocation on Wednesday to share the atrocities their family and friends endured on the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.
[View the full Convocation on Liberty’s YouTube channel.]
Ido and Jonathan were at home in Israel on Oct. 7 when Hamas brutally attacked their town, about one mile from the Gaza strip, and captured their brother, Alon. They were joined on stage by Chancellor Jonathan Falwell and Liberty alumnus and former Campus Pastor Johnnie Moore, who was twice appointed as one of nine commissioners for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Moore said Hamas entered Israeli villages and brutally tortured, killed, and captured civilians; the death toll now numbers 1,400 and there are about 240 known hostages. He said Christians should be a “moral conscience in the world” and “stand with our Jewish and Israeli brothers and sisters.”
“What happened on Oct. 7 was a test whether you recognize good versus evil,” Moore said. “As Christians, with the hundreds and hundreds of millions of us around the world, its essential that we of all people recognize good and evil and we say it when we see it.”
Jonathan Lulu-Shamriz called his home community, the Jewish kibbutz, a “family.” He said he grew up there with relative peace, describing his hometown as “95 percent heaven, 5 percent hell.”
Ido, a member of the community’s civilian security team tasked with defending until the Israeli army could arrive with reinforcements, said he was woken up by missile alarms on Oct. 7 and immediately went to the community shelter to pick up weapons to defend the community. It would be hours before the army arrived and instead the squad of 14 Israeli civilians was confronted with hundreds of Hamas soldiers armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and other weapons. Seven of these men — his friends — died fighting to protect their friends and neighbors. He told of entering a neighbor’s home with Israel Defense Forces to rescue 10-month-old twins whose parents were killed in the attack.
While Ido fought on the front lines, Jonathan, along with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, stayed locked in the family’s saferoom, waiting to hear from friends and relatives on their mobile phones.
“These are your closest friends,” he said. “Imagine you open your phone and you see so many messages from all of your closest friends desperately seeking for help and you can do nothing.”
During his time in the saferoom, Alon messaged him that he heard terrorists inside his house. That was the last time he heard from his brother.
Jonathan and his family spent 22 hours in the saferoom before finally leaving the house to see the destruction that had ravaged the community.
“It was so intense, and every minute felt like forever,” he said. “The situation in our region is you are in constant threat and constant fear. All of our youth grow up in this thing and it seems normal for them, but it’s absurd. No one should experience the things that we have experienced.”
As details continue to be released about the atrocities at the hand of Hamas in the Middle East, people around the U.S. have been quick to choose a side in the conflict. Jonathan Lulu-Shamriz encouraged Liberty students to honestly consider the conflict and not be swayed into accepting support for Hamas as other universities have done.
“If you are a respectable student, you should always question yourself, question your surroundings, ask questions, seek the truth, and stand for what is right. You should never accept anything like this. When I saw what happened at other universities, it makes your heart (hurt),” he said.
“Hamas is not even a ‘terrorist organization’ — they are not humans. If you wipe out families, rape women, behead babies, burn people alive, you are not human. You are not even animal. I don’t think there is any word in the English dictionary that can describe what happened to us and what they are,” he continued.
Jonathan next argued that Hamas does not only seek the destruction of Israel but looks to attack western nations as well.
“But if you think they attacked us because we are Jews and Israelis, you’re wrong,” he said. “They are going after all of you and all of us. We should stand and stop it in any way we can, because it starts in Israel, and it is going to spread to Europe and the U.S. Everyone here should stand for what is right and do whatever we can to avoid other atrocities like what happened on Oct. 7.”
Ido said that since the attack, his brother Alon is constantly on his mind.
“When you wake up, you imagine how did Alon sleep at night,” he said. “When you eat, you ask yourself if Alon got bread and if he’s drinking water. Everything you do, you think about Alon. You think about what they are doing to him. I met those despisable terrorists, and we should never forget who is holding them.”
Jonathan and Ido, who are spending the next few days sharing their experiences and meeting with American politicians, said they hope the U.S. government will intervene to help free the Hamas captives.
Liberty President Dr. Dondi Costin closed Convocation by leading the student body in praying over the brothers.
On Tuesday, Nov. 14, Liberty University will send buses of students, faculty, and staff to Washington, D.C., for a March for Israel.