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Nightmare is 'far from over': Survivor of Hamas festival attack speaks at FIU, a month later

Israeli-American Maya Parizer, 27, attended the Supernova Music Festival in Re'Im, Israel, where at least 260 people were killed, more than 250 people were taken hostage and thousands of others were wounded. She visited South Florida last week to talk about how she survived and why the release of hostages should be a priorty in the war against Hamas.
Jon Warech
/
Hillel at FIU
Israeli-American Maya Parizer, 27, attended the Supernova Music Festival in Re'Im, Israel, where at least 260 people were killed, more than 250 people were taken hostage and thousands of others were wounded.

Maya Parizer has not taken off her festival wristband.

It's typical of concertgoers who want to hold onto the experience for a bit longer — to remember the flashing lights, the synergy of the crowd and the pounding beat of the music.

But for the 27-year-old Israeli-American, the wristband is a grim reminder of unfathomable violence she witnessed firsthand on Oct. 7. She attended the Supernova Music Festival in Re'Im, Israel, where at least 260 people were killed, more than 250 people were taken hostage and thousands of others were wounded.

READ MORE: What caused Gaza hospital explosion? FIU forensic scientist explains need for credible investigation

She remembers the missiles and rockets crowding the skies at sunrise. She remembers speeding in their car to get away from the Hamas terrorists. She remembers seeing the dead, the wounded, littering the landscape. She remembers 24 hours of hiding from scores of gunmen in a shelter.

Parizer shared her harrowing experience at Florida International University and before others during a visit last week to South Florida, almost a month after surviving the Hamas attack that has triggered a war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

"We just wanted to have the best time of our life and then waking up to this nightmare that's far from being over because many of our friends are still there in Gaza and we lost so many friends as well," Parizer said.

"I wish it was all a big dream that we can wake up from. But it's not, because I was there."
Maya Parizer

In an interview with WLRN, she said she wants to use the privilege of her American citizenship to help raise awareness for those who died in the attack and for those still being held hostage.

Parizer considers herself lucky enough to be alive. She said that she will keep telling her story until all of the hostages in Gaza are released and stands with the Israeli government's fight to dismantle and destroy Hamas.

"I wish it was all a big dream that we can wake up from. But it's not, because I was there. My friends were there. And I think it starts with one person at a time and then we can do so much more together, like volunteering, like supporting families," she said.

Her visit coincided with a campus exhibit at FIU which showcases a replica cattle car. Hosted by Hillel FIU, the Hate Ends Now Cattle Car Exhibit aimed to educate people on the atrocities of the Holocaust and antisemitism. The event came in response to the increased reports of incidents of antisemitism since the outbreak of war in Gaza.

Since Oct. 7, hate crimes against Jews, Muslims and Arabs have soared in the U.S.

The Anti-Defamation League reports that “incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault” skyrocketed 388% since the start of the war compared to the same period last year. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said almost 800 anti-Muslim incidents — the highest in years — have been reported nationwide since Oct. 7.

Parizer said she has found some hope in the lawmakers she met in Washington D.C. and have passed measures to send funding to Israel relief efforts. Now, she's calling on the world to step forward as well.

"Our experience would be noted in history, just like the Holocaust. And this is something none of us understand yet," Parizer said.

Alyssa Ramos is the multimedia producer for Morning Edition for WLRN. She produces regional stories for newscasts and manages digital content on WLRN.
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