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They Are Laughing, And Our Children Are Dying…

[The following article is slated to be published in the AJDS Newsletter this week. –Sol Salbe]

They are laughing, and our children are dying…

By Rami Elhanan

On Thursday 4 September 1997, five innocent people were murdered in the Ben-Yehuda Mall in Jerusalem. It was one of the “mere” three suicide bombings that occurred during the time of the Netanyahu government. And in that “mere”single bombing eight years ago, I lost my one and only daughter, 14-year-old Smadari.

Through no fault of my own, I earned the dubious honour of belonging to the ranks of the victims of Palestinian terrorism. I ended up being one of those who pay the price for others’ arrogance and stupidity. And as such I wish to express my deep shock and strong protest at the haughty, high and mighty and racist comment by [PM] adviser [Dov] Weisglass, who suggested putting the Palestinians on a “diet”. I protest just as strongly at the subsequent government decision – one that reeks of election campaigning – that is designed to punish the Palestinian people for voting for Hamas. That election result was the direct outcome of the devastation of the Palestinian Authority by Israel and of the continued subjugation and humiliation of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. It was a direct result of our desire to show the world that there is no one to talk to, there is nothing to talk about and therefore we should not concede anything.

There are those haughty people who shamelessly and in a racist, foolhardy, stupid, wicked and evil manner advise a whole nation to lose weight but not to die. There are those who are sharp and quick-witted and who do not take both local and world public opinion into account. There are those who have no moral compunction, who have no respect for the law and who do not fear the One above. All of them, and the future victims, need to be reminded that there is always a price to pay for one’s actions. And the price for this starvation plan that they are proposing for a whole nation – including the sick, the elderly, the young and the infirm, the women and children – is going to be paid in our own children’s blood. Those joyful, hot-tempered people don’t have to pay the price. They do not travel on buses that burst into flames. They do not meander in the streets where the bombers blow themselves up. They surround themselves with bodyguards in all directions. But they need reminding that when you push a desperate, wounded enemy into a corner, he bites back. If there is no way out and the situation is hopeless he will certainly bite back. Even a weakened, wretched enemy’s bite will be cruel and painful.

He who sows hatred will reap a field of blood, death and bereavement. The additional oppressive measures will impel more and more desperate Palestinians into the endless cycle of terror and revenge and bloodletting. He who doesn’t have enough to eat in the morning will blow himself up among us in the evening. He who does not have a hope, and has nothing to lose, will take us and our children with him when he kills himself. As the pressure tightens, the desperate response measures will become more extreme. Whatever the weapon of choice -- stones, knives, Molotov cocktails, roadside bombs, Qassam rockets or explosive belts – they can all be used. And it can strike us anywhere: in the Occupied Territories, in the heart of Tel Aviv or in a kindergarten in Brussels. Wherever there is the slightest crack in the walls of the ghetto into which we have positioned both ourselves and them, it has to be found.

And who can feel it in their bones better than I, who paid with his child’s blood for the seething hatred?

Hamas is not and never has been an organisation of the righteous. For that matter, neither were the Etzel [the “Irgun”] Lehi [the “Stern Gang”] or the PLO before they abandoned the path of terror and bloodshed. It was also said that the fate of Netzarim [in the Gaza Strip] was the same as the fate of Tel Aviv. Things change! Things can change! Things must change! True, it is really more difficult to talk them now, but we must do so because the unbearable alternative is the continuation of the senseless terror and the interminable cycle of bloodshed.

As a member of the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Parents Forum, I can testify first-hand that there is someone to talk to, and how! And there is plenty to talk about. For the past ten years we have met affable people from the other side every day; fathers and mothers, brothers and sons who have lost their loved ones. And regardless of everything, they offer us their brave hand for peace – despite their terrible pain or perhaps because of it. They, like us, are seeking reconciliation and understanding instead of hatred and revenge. They, unlike us, are slated for starvation.

Maybe it may be worth trying this other path before it is too late? Maybe, despite everything, it will be worth using our heads so that we all can continue living in this land; so that we can all stop paying with the blood of our loved ones for evil and stupidity.


[Translated by Sol Salbe from Israeli left-wing website Haokets. Hebrew original]

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