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Yom Kipur 2003

Yitzhak Frankenthal - father of Arik Frankenthal, who was killed in July 1994 and who started I Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace.

Yom Kippur eve, the year 5764 (tashsad - 2003); 19 dead, plus one more, the killer. I am sitting here and writing, feeling outraged and helpless. I hear the names of the victims, I think about how fleeting the life of my son Arik was, who was murdered by Palestinians, and I cry inside. Until when will the death toll keep growing?

I hear that the killer's brother and cousin were killed two months ago, and I recall the Chief of Staff saying around the same time: "We have beaten them." I hear that "we continue to strike terrorists everywhere and in full force," and see in my mind's eye the next killer, avenging us for the death of his relatives. I here them saying that "at this point Arafat will not be deported" and remember how two years ago they said "he is no longer relevant." So why bother deporting him?

MORE...

I prayed this morning, like I do every day, and finished a few minutes before the selihot prayer that we recite only in these days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. You, the Lord, who are always and forever above us all, help the weak and reach out your hand to them, we pray; help those poor people whose tears are their nectar and whose sighs are their food, and avenge our foes for the blood of your servants that was shed by your enemies, and let us know why this is happening.

This prayer, which is part of the selihot we recite on Yom Kippur eve, makes me think that all this terrible bloodshed in the region is completely futile; the Palestinians are Muslims, who worship the same G-od as we do; but day in day out the occupation makes the Palestinians sigh and shed more tears, and every day we shed more of their blood, so is it any wonder that we are made to pay such a terrible price as we did yesterday in Haifa?

I ask myself, in this equation, who is the poor side that the prayer talks about, us or the Palestinians? Is justice on our side or theirs? I know who this prayer was said about in the past, but these days, who is it more suited to - the Israelis or the Palestinians?

When I hear on the radio that the home of the suicide bomber was destroyed, I see in my mind,s eye her poor parents and young brothers who are now homeless, and I know that we have just created a few more potential suicide bombers. But I can relax when I hear on the radio that the IDF will use all its might to eradicate terror - as though this is not what it has been trying to do until now.

I listen to the radio and hear about parents and children who were killed together, and I cry, and I think about their relatives who are still alive, about the suffering that they are and will be experiencing for the rest of their lives. I think how heinous it is to kill women and babies at a cafe and think to myself how terrible the situation is into which we have pushed the Palestinians that they now allow themselves to slay women and children at cafes. How low can people go, I think, and immediately I relax when I hear on the radio that the suicide bomber was an animal, not a human being - and this puts everything in place.

Oh, but nothing is in place.

With our own hands we are turning civilized human beings into animals, because of the occupation, because of the assassinations. With our own hands we bring upon us all these horrendous sights, the massacre of the innocents.

The Palestinian militant who carried out the terror attack yesterday was angry with the Israelis for assassinating her brother and cousin. The Israelis did this because they were terrorists, and they became terrorists because of the occupation that is destroying them, because of the awful situation that has pushed them into acts of despair.

I have very little sympathy for the killing of women, children and other civilians at coffee shops. I am not prepared to understand or accept any rationalization for such atrocities. As an Israeli and a human being, I simply will not condone any of it.

But having condemned such acts, as a human being and as an Israeli who loves his people and grieves the death of my brothers and sisters, it is my duty to do whatever I can to stop these terrible killings.

I do not call the suicide bomber a terrorist but a militant, because from her perspective and that of her people, she is a freedom fighter fighting for independence. I would kill her with my own two hands if I knew what she was planning, because as a human being it is my duty to save lives. However, I must draw a clear distinction between saving lives and the need to kill Israelis in order to end the occupation. I will not heed any explanations that the suicide bomber may give, I despise her rationale, I would have agreed to murder her had I known ahead of time what she was planning - but I must not turn a blind eye, I must not let myself be deaf, I must not close my heart.

The killing will only stop if we make peace with the Palestinians, which will only happen if we end the occupation.

The sooner we end the occupation, the fewer people will die and the sooner will we have peace and security among ourselves and with other nations.

Sometimes I ask myself where the rabbis, the religious leaders of the Jewish people are when all this is going on; then I remember the words of the Prophet Zechariah about the clergy, the leaders, whose clothes are soiled, as a metaphor for their own souls, and I cry inside, thinking of the thousands of victims that were killed on both sides in the name of the occupation, in the name of Greater Israel. I hope that in the next life I will not have to share the same space with the religious leaders whose teachings have sent so many of our children to their death.

Cry out, my beloved country, because the silence of the present and the past belongs to the dead, and we the living must cry out everywhere, all the time: end the occupation, end the assassination, end ,might is right", end the folly.

In this week,s Torah portion, Moses says to the people of Israel before he dies: "foolish people and unwise." Indeed, we are foolish to continue the occupation, we are unwise to go on believing in slogans such as "let the IDF win", to go on believing in the vision of Greater Israel, to go on with the assassinations.

As we can read in this week's portion, even the ox and donkey know who their owners are; but we, the foolish, unwise people, fail to understand that it is the occupation that is destroying us as it generates vengeance and churns out more suicide bombers.

Wake up, people of Zion, before more harm comes to us.

It is not the Palestinians who are killing us, it is the occupation.

It is not ideological suicide bombers that we are dealing with, but people who are avenging the assassinations and occupation.

No tank or airplane in the world can possible crush a nation fighting for independence; Sharon, Mofaz or even the lauded Chief of Staff who has already "beaten the Palestinians" are unable to do this either. No one can stop a nation that wants independence.

We the living must wake up, or else we will all find ourselves dead and buried.


Posted by: evil-barry on Oct 07, 03 | 8:40 pm | Profile

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