Natalie Sanandaji, a young Jewish American woman from New York who narrowly escaped with her life when Hamas terrorists stormed the Nova music festival in southern Israel on Oct. 7, visited Washington, D.C., on Thursday, where she met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to share her harrowing experience.
Sanandaji’s Washington meetings were organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), and she was accompanied by CAM advisers Gabriel Groisman and Jon Adrabi, partners at LSN.
On Capitol Hill, Sanandaji sat down with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Senators Marco Rubio, Tim Kaine, and Rick Scott. She also met Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Carlos Giménez, and Mario Díaz-Balart.
From the Biden administration, Sanandaji met with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and White House Jewish Liaison Shelley Greenspan.
Sanandaji recalled the details of her close brush with death when she took part in a special webinar hosted by CAM on Wednesday.
In Israel for a wedding, Sanandaji went to the Nova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im with a group of Israeli friends. All was normal until around 6:30 AM on Saturday morning, Oct. 7, when rocket salvoes launched from the adjacent Gaza Strip started flying overhead, marking the start of Hamas’ massive surprise invasion of southern Israel.
Sanandaji soon got in a car with her friends to leave the area. However, the situation suddenly took a dire turn when they heard nearby gunfire and came to the terrifying realization they were facing immediate mortal danger from armed terrorists on the ground hunting down fleeing festival-goers.
“We opened the doors of our car and just started to run for our lives,” she remembered. “Nobody knew what direction was safe. After a while of running in one specific direction, I suddenly saw dozens of other people running in my direction, and I understand that the direction I was running in was not the direction of safety. Basically no direction was safe, they were coming at us from multiple directions. We never knew what decision was the right decision, every decision we made either was either going to save our lives or get us killed.”
More than 270 people were massacred at the Nova music festival that morning, out of the overall 1,400 fatalities suffered by Israel in Hamas’ barbaric assault on more than 20 civilian communities and military bases along the border. Around 200 other Israelis were taken into captivity by Hamas, including many from the Nova music festival.
In her webinar remarks, Sanandaii also delivered a heartfelt message to Palestinian supporters around the world.
“The rallies that you’re doing right now is not what this war is about,” she said. “This war is not about Palestine. Hamas is not pro-Palestine. Hamas is just as complicit in the deaths of innocent Palestinians as they are in the deaths of all these innocent Israelis. Anyone who is going out onto the streets with a Palestinian flag, this is not the time. This war is about a terrorist organization killing innocent people. Killing innocent people does not free Palestine. This is not the path to that, this is not the way you do it.”
Watch Sanandaji tell her story here: