RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Atlanta-based Consul General of Israel to the Southeast made the trip to Raleigh Monday with her team to show footage from the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel.
Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon invited 300 local leaders from around the Triangle to view the 45-minute video and participate in a discussion afterward. Roughly 70 people showed up to Monday night's event.
"Being the capitol of North Carolina, it's the epicenter of leadership, political leadership, academic leadership," Sultan-Dadon said, emphasizing the importance of showing this video in Raleigh.
Everyone in attendance was required to sign an agreement that they would not record the video or the discussion in any way, and that they could not sue for witnessing such graphic footage. Despite the agreement, Sultan-Dadon encouraged everyone in attendance to share what they witnessed with their communities.
A small group of protestors gathered outside the event, held at the event venue TRAINE at Seaboard Station in downtown Raleigh. They expressed concern about the closed-door nature of the event.
"We're here because our elected officials and leaders in our community who we elect are actually being spoken to and set up in very much a propaganda kind of meeting by the Israeli military," said Rakhee Devasthali of Mothers for Ceasefire. "We're very curious what's going on, what could the Israeli military have to say to these people that they are not allowed to videotape?"
When asked why the footage was not being shown publicly, Dadon-Sultan said it was in part an effort to protect the victims and their loved ones. She said the family members of the victims gave consent for private, but not public, screenings of the video. Dadon-Sultan also mentioned the graphic nature of the video makes it difficult to screen to the public.
Another protestor, Emerson Goldstein from Jewish Voice for Peace, expressed concern over the tactics of the Israeli Defense Force.
"We refuse to let our fear, our grief around those events (of October 7th) be used to justify an ongoing genocide," said Goldstein. "We wanted to be here, especially as Jewish people, to remind the folks in attendance that escalated violence is not the only response that is possible to what happened here."
Goldstein and Devasthali both called for an immediate ceasefire.
When asked about a ceasefire during the discussion, Dadon-Sulton said she hopes calls for a ceasefire are directed only at Hamas. She told attendees that Israel did not choose this war, and that a complete ceasefire would allow for Hamas to commit further attacks.
When an attendee asked if Israel's response could be escalating the violence, Dadon-Sulton responded by saying, "what is the appropriate response when we are facing an enemy determined to wipe us out?"
She said that Hamas is intentionally embedding themselves in the civilian population and that if Israel doesn't continue to fight back against Hamas, she believes terrorists around the world will be emboldened to attack and then embed themselves among civilians.
Many in the audience, including Chapel Hill resident Joel Hornstein, raised the concern that the people in attendance are already largely pro-Israel, and that this type of screening and discussion might have a bigger impact with younger people, like college students.
Dadon-Sulton said they do occasionally go to universities, but that the graphic nature of the video is not appropriate for students.
"I think this should be on every college campus. I heard them say that this is so traumatic, so disturbing that 18-year-olds, 21-year-olds shouldn't be exposed to it, and they're, of course, right, but we show our kids the Holocaust, we teach our kids about slavery, these are awful, awful things, but you can't move forward if you don't know what happened," Hornstein said. "I trust our kids to be able to understand. They need to know that there is true evil in the world, and to think anyone's too tender to be exposed to that, that's the wrong answer. We can't move forward without knowing the truth."
Dadon-Sulton ended the discussion by telling attendees that her office decided to invite this group of people in particular because she hopes they share their experience with their communities.
If you have any questions about what went on during the private event, you can contact our reporter Sydnee Scofield who was in attendance.