I survived to tell.

We’re delighted to share an article by Nimrod Palmach, the hero IDF reservist who disobeyed orders to drive south to fight Hamas on 7th October. Together with other Israeli soldiers he saved many lives. Since then he has created a Virtual Reality experience, “Survived to tell“, which invites people to witness the truth and develop empathy. This is his story in his own words.

From the Frontlines to the Classroom – Turning Tragedy into Teachable Moments through Virtual Reality

by Nimrod Palmach

When I woke up on 7th October, I didn’t know it was “October 7” — a day that would test my deepest convictions and change my life. As the CEO of ISRAEL-is, an NGO dedicated to harnessing the power of young people to advance peace through authentic stories, I found myself suddenly thrust into the very essence of our mission under the most harrowing circumstances.

Responding to a sudden call, I raced toward escalating smoke at the Nova festival armed only with a pistol, where I was soon faced with a critical decision: proceed as a concerned father, a leader of an NGO that promotes Israel’s positive image, or as an IDF soldier. Ultimately, I recorded a farewell video for my children, acknowledging the possibility of death, and plunged into the fray.

“Survived to tell” trailer.

Minutes after donning an armed vest from an injured soldier, a bullet struck me in the center of my chest. The vest saved my life. For the next 15 hours, I fought against hundreds of terrorists, preventing them from overrunning Kibbutz Alumim and saving countless lives. The battlefield was a grim tableau of death and destruction where, for the first nine hours, I saw no signs of life – only the dismembered and tortured remains of victims. It was a scene so horrific, I doubted anyone would believe my account.

During a brief moment of respite when I was pinned down in Kibbutz Be’eri, I pondered how to convey the horrors I witnessed. Collecting three stones as mementos, I resumed fighting, these small rocks a tangible connection to the ordeal. The physical wounds from the battle healed, but the emotional scars lingered, fuelling a determination to share our stories on a scale never before attempted.

Collaborating with award-winning producer Stephen Smith, who was the executive director of the Shoah Foundation (Steven Spielberg), we developed a platform integrating VR and AI, enabling people virtually to stand where we stood, to hear and see our experiences. This technology is not merely about innovation: it serves a profound purpose. Virtual reality provides an immersive experience that traditional film cannot, challenging the denial and misinformation surrounding the events of 7th October by placing viewers directly into the scenes we lived. This format not only counters false narratives but also fosters a deeper empathy and connection with the audience.

Our initiative began as an Instagram page and evolved into a series of VR experiences that narrate our survival and challenge the denial surrounding these terrorist attacks. We chose London for the global launch in an effort to respond to a significant increase in antisemitic incidents, setting the stage for impactful encounters with key figures including Nicola Richards MP and Suella Braverman MP.

This alarming trend underscores the urgency of our mission and the need for a platform that can effectively counteract these narratives of hate through education and empathy. As we expand this initiative across global campuses, it becomes particularly poignant. The VR glasses are not merely educational tools, they are bridges to understanding in places marred by antisemitic protests and rising hatred. Today’s youth are our future, and by immersing them in the reality of our experiences, we hope to inspire a more informed, empathetic and proactive approach to combating hate in all its forms.

“Survived to Tell” is more than a recounting of survival: it is a call to witness, learn, and most importantly, empathise. This project aims to spark a global dialogue rooted in empathy and the recognition of our shared humanity. It’s not just our story – it’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, the imperative to remember and the enduring power of hope.

Through this endeavour we not only aim to educate, we also aspire to inspire a worldwide movement grounded in empathy and understanding, proving that even from the depths of despair, the human spirit can rise to teach and heal.

If you would like to book a “Survived to tell” VR experience and delegation of survivors at a campus please contact Nimrod Palmach, CEO of ISRAEL-is at  STT@israel-is.org.

Find out more at ISRAEL-is.

Sign up to receive articles from British Friends of Israel by email.

Could you support British Friends of Israel? We are a not-for-profit company set up by volunteers in the wake of the horrific Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October 2023. Please donate whatever you feel you can afford to support content, events and this website.

Please donate whatever you feel you can afford on a one-off or ideally on a monthly basis. We will use your donations to produce content, events and this website.

British Friends of Israel is a not-for-profit company which was set up by a small group of concerned British citizens in the wake of the horrific Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October 2023. In response to that terrible day we published The October Declaration which has been signed by 83,000 British citizens and residents. We stand in solidarity with Jews as well as the State of Israel and condemn antisemitism. We are completely independent and are not affiliated with any government or other organisation.

Thank you for your support.

© British Friends of Israel Limited (15307603)
7 Bell Yard, London, England, WC2A 2JR