The cold-blooded internet murderer Fatah and Hamas want free

January 04, 2010

* “When Orel (an 8 year-old boy hit by a Hamas rocket in Beersheba, the largest town in southern Israel) arrived here a year ago, he could not hear, see, talk or walk. Now he does them all haltingly. Half his brain is gone. Doctors were deeply pessimistic about his survival. Today they are amazed at his progress although unclear how much more can be made.”

* “Nine years ago, Muna seduced a 16-year-old Israeli boy over the Internet, luring him into a liaison that resulted in his death. At the time, Muna was a 24-year-old Palestinian journalist from the West Bank city of Ramallah when she began trawling Internet chat rooms. Now she could be one of the murderers Israel releases for Gilad Shalit.”

* “Her injuries the night the suicide bomber exploded his device were so horrific that the doctors gave her only a 2 percent chance of survival. She remained in a coma for four months. When she awoke, she changed her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya (meaning “Kinneret Lives” in Hebrew). In her own words, “Kinneret died that night in the flames, but Kinneret Chaya was born.” With her horrifically disfigured body, the doctors said she had only a very slim chance of a successful pregnancy, yet this beautiful former teenage ballerina is now shortly to give birth to her second child.”

 

CONTENTS

1. Not forgetting the survivors
2. A season of goodwill to all except Israel
3. Half his brain was gone
4. The cold-blooded internet murderer Fatah and Hamas want free
5. Miraculous news as Kinneret Chaya pregnant again
6. Just one of thousands
7. “It’s season of goodwill to all except Israel” (Belfast Telegraph (UK), Dec. 31, 2009)
8. “A Mideast bond, stitched of pain and healing” (New York Times, Dec. 31, 2009)
9. “The woman in the way of a Palestinian prisoner deal” (Time magazine, Dec. 30, 2009)
10. “Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat?” (By Tom Gross, Wall Street Journal)


NOT FORGETTING THE SURVIVORS

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch focuses on the victims and survivors of Middle East terrorism and violence. I attach four articles, and have prepared summaries first for those who don’t have time to read them in full.

There are some very moving passages here, though of course there are things that make one very angry too.

 

SUMMARIES

A SEASON OF GOODWILL TO ALL EXCEPT ISRAEL

Colin Nevin writes in The Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland):

Christmas is a time that brings out the best in many people and also time when many give to charity. Yet over recent years it has become increasingly a time for organizations and individuals to release scathing diatribes with the now annual mention of Bethlehem – notably blaming all its residents’ ills on the state of Israel.

One such article appeared in The Belfast Telegraph on Christmas Eve – “Merry Christmas, war is over (unless you live in Bethlehem)” by Eamon McCann who obviously couldn’t resist the opportunity to have another bash at Israel which he alludes to as “a host of vengeful thieves”.

… McCann states that mothers are “forced to stand endless hours at checkpoints”, yet when I visited Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Hebron in the “West Bank” in late October, all the checkpoints we passed on board a local Arab bus were completely unmanned and we did not get stopped once all the way from east Jerusalem.

Perhaps Mr McCann needs to update his information before he lambasts the Israeli security precautions set in place to ensure safety from the unrelenting terror attacks which regrettably emanate from the heart of Bethlehem.

***

(Tom Gross adds: I went to Bethlehem a few days before Christmas, for meetings with the town’s mayor and Palestinian security officials. I wasn’t asked to show any identity documents when leaving Israeli-controlled Jerusalem but was just waved through. Nor were we asked to show documents when we left Bethlehem for Jerusalem later that evening. I was travelling with Palestinians and others.)

 

HALF HIS BRAIN WAS GONE

In a moving article, Ethan Bronner reports in The New York Times on two child victims of the Mideast conflict, one Palestinian, one Israeli who have become close friends as they recuperate in their Israeli hospital bed, as have their parents. Both are aged 8.

Bronner writes:

He can be impulsive. She has a touch of bossiness. Next-door neighbors for nearly a year, they talk, watch television and explore the world together, wandering into each other’s [rooms next door to each other] without a second thought. She likes his mother’s eggplant dish. He likes her father’s rice and lamb.

Friendship often starts with proximity, but Orel and Marya, both 8, have been thrust together in a way few elsewhere have. Their playground is a hospital corridor. He is an Israeli Jew severely wounded by a Hamas rocket. She is a Palestinian Muslim from Gaza paralyzed by an Israeli missile. Someone forgot to tell them that they are enemies…

When [the Israeli boy] Orel arrived here a year ago, he could not hear, see, talk or walk. Now he does them all haltingly. Half his brain is gone. Doctors were deeply pessimistic about his survival. Today they are amazed at his progress although unclear how much more can be made.

Marya’s spinal cord was broken at the neck and she can move only her head. Smart, sunny and strong-willed, she moves her wheelchair by pushing a button with her chin. Nothing escapes her gaze. She knows that Orel is starting to prefer boys as playmates and she makes room. But their bond remains strong.

In a way, a friendship between two wounded children from opposing backgrounds is not that surprising. Neither understands the prolonged fight over land and identity that so divides people here. They are kids. They play.

But for those who have spent time in their presence at Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem, it is almost more powerful to observe their parents, who do understand. They have developed a kinship that defies national struggle.

“The wounds of our children, their pain, our pain, have connected us,” noted Angela Elizarov, Orel’s mother…

It was two weeks into Israel’s Gaza war last January when Orel was hit [by a Hamas rocket -- TG]. After days in a shelter his mother took him out in the car. As they drove around Beersheba [the largest town in southern Israel], a siren blared, warning of an incoming rocket. She pushed Orel to the ground, lying protectively on him. When she heard the explosion in the distance, she rose in relief. A second rocket exploded and she saw her son’s head bleeding profusely.

A surgical nurse, she flagged down a passing motorist who drove them to the hospital where she works.

“I saw his brain coming out, everything around me was burning, and I was not even scratched,” she recalled. “When I got to the emergency room, I said to the doctor: ‘You can’t kid me. I know he has no chance of survival.’ The doctor looked away. But after six operations, he is actually making some progress…

Her husband, Avrel, who works with children, spends much of the week at home with their 18-month-old daughter but comes often. The couple, originally from Azerbaijan, had been childless for years, and Orel’s birth, coaxed along by infertility treatments in Israel, seemed a miracle…

 

THE COLD-BLOODED INTERNET MURDERER FATAH AND HAMAS WANT FREE

Journalist Matthew Kalman (who is a longtime subscriber to this email list) reports in Time magazine on Amneh Muna, who is high on the list of Palestinian prisoners Hamas wants to be exchanged for the young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Muna was a member of Fatah in addition to being a “respected” journalist.

Kalman writes:

Serving a life sentence, she has become a symbol of Palestinian women prisoners, a hard-line agitator for Palestinian prisoners’ rights and a constant thorn in the side of her Israeli incarcerators. But the crime for which she has been convicted is so heinous in the eyes of Israelis that few see any justice in letting her go, even for the freedom of one of their own soldiers.

Nine years ago, Muna seduced a 16-year-old Israeli boy over the Internet, luring him into a liaison that resulted in his death. At the time, Muna was a 24-year-old Palestinian journalist from the West Bank city of Ramallah when she began trawling Internet chat rooms at about the time of the second intifada. She soon found Ofir Rahum, a schoolboy from the Israeli city of Ashkelon. She said her name was Sali, a newly immigrated Moroccan Jew, and soon initiated a sexually charged cyber-relationship. The young man was bedazzled by the thought of an older woman being so passionate about him.

Just weeks after their online liaison began, she convinced Rahum to skip school and hang out with her in Jerusalem. “I miss you Ofir,” Muna wrote in a series of passionate exchanges. “I hope you are coming on Wednesday ... please don’t say no I need you to be with me ... please. I will be waiting for you on Wednesday. I will have a good dream about you ... You don’t know how much I am waiting for Wednesday. Love you dear.” She described herself as “169 cm, black hair bob, hazeled eyes” and asked for his description so she could meet him off the bus. Rahum didn’t tell his parents where he was going. He withdrew his savings and told close friends he was off on a tryst with his online lover.

***

Tom Gross adds:

When the young Israeli boy got there, Muna and her accomplices murdered him in cold blood. Interestingly, though she was a journalist, the various international journalist federations (many of whom frequently criticize Israel) have not condemned the crime.

After confessing to the murder (in fact boasting of it), Amneh Muna [also spelled Mona and Amana in some news articles] was sentenced to life in prison. She has become a radical leader of women prisoners and a Palestinian heroine, celebrated in the Palestinian media. In 2004, Muna sparked two riots in Sharon Prison near Netanya. Warders said she terrorized the women’s cell block with threats of violence, punishing anyone who challenged her authority. In 2006, she was transferred for severely beating up a fellow prisoner.

There are several mass murderers whose release Hamas is demanding as part of a deal for Gilad Shalit. Time magazine’s heading (“The woman in the way of a Palestinian prisoner deal”) is thus misleading as she is not the worst of the killers Hamas wants Israel to set free. For reasons I have explained before in my writings, I think it would be a terrible strategic, tactical and moral error for Israel to release these convicted murderers, however much Israelis want to see the young, innocent Gilad Shalit – who, then a teenager, was kidnapped from inside Israel while he slept – set free.

“Moderate” Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has also demanded Muna’s release, as I explained in this dispatch in 2008: A long way from Entebbe: Hizbullah’s triumph, as Israel lets murderers go free (July 16, 2008)

 

MIRACULOUS NEWS AS KINNERET CHAYA PREGNANT AGAIN

Last March I wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal urging the Obama administration to be careful before forcing Israel into making concessions which could lead to renewed terrorism.

I focused on the case of my friend Kinneret Chaya Boosany, whose sister subscribes to this email list.

I am happy to report that, miracle of miracles, Kinneret is due to give birth to her second child at the end of this month.

I wrote in that Wall Street Journal piece:

At the very moment that Barack Obama was delivering his historic victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park in the early hours of November 5 2008, a small miracle was happening over 6000 miles away in Israel when Kinneret gave birth to her first child.

Six years earlier, Kinneret, then a 23-year-old part-time dancer and student of alternative medicine, was blown up as she worked as a waitress in a small coffee shop on Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street. (Like many young Israelis, she worked as a waitress to earn extra money. She was also exceptionally good-looking: Heads would turn wherever she went.)

Her injuries that night were so horrific that the doctors gave her only a 2 percent chance of survival. She remained in a coma for four months. When she awoke, she changed her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya (meaning “Kinneret Lives” in Hebrew). In her own words, “Kinneret died that night in the flames, but Kinneret Chaya was born.”

JUST ONE OF THOUSANDS

She is just one of the thousands of Israelis – both Jews and Arabs – injured by Palestinian suicide bombers who were sent out on their deadly missions by either the Islamist Hamas movement or by the Fatah faction headed by “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. The number of Israelis killed in buses and pizza parlors and shopping malls has been greatly reduced in recent years after the government built a security fence to make it harder for bombers to get through.

Today Kinneret has one fully operating lung, sees in only one eye and hears in only one ear. Her skin still bears the scars of burns over 85 percent of her body. She spends many hours in a heavy pressure suit and face mask to prevent the scarring getting worse, and she cannot go out in the day because the sun has become her enemy.

But Kinneret has struggled back to life, through countless operations and long sessions of physiotherapy, learning to accept her disfigured body and to smile in spite of her scarred face. And then in November, even though the doctors said she had only a very slim chance of a successful pregnancy, this beautiful former teenage ballerina, who got married at the start of last year, gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

… Like most Israelis Kinneret Chaya, who I saw again last week, desperately wants peace with the Palestinians. Indeed it is my experience of covering the region as a reporter for many years that no one wants the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be peaceably resolved more than Israelis do.

… Kinneret Chaya is an exemplary and courageous figure. The international community owes it to her and the countless other terror victims to confront the basic realities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. By all means pressure Israel into making concessions that do not threaten its security. But Israeli concessions will never resolve the conflict in themselves. They will only work if there is corresponding pressure on the Palestinians to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and to make aid to the Palestinians conditional on putting an end to their inciting for the destruction of Israel.

(This, and the other full articles, are below -- Tom Gross.)


FULL ARTICLES

A SEASON OF GOODWILL TO ALL EXCEPT ISRAEL

It’s season of goodwill to all except Israel
By Colin Nevin
Letter to Belfast Telegraph (UK)
December 31, 2009

www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/its-season-of-goodwill-to-all-except-israel-14617490.html

Christmas is a time that brings out the best in many people and also time when many give to charity. Yet over recent years it has become increasingly a time for organisations and individuals to release scathing diatribes with the now annual mention of Bethlehem - notably blaming all its residents’ ills on the state of Israel.

One such article appeared on Christmas Eve - ‘Merry Christmas, war is over (unless you live in Bethlehem)’ by Eamon McCann who obviously couldn’t resist the opportunity to have another bash at Israel which he alludes to as “a host of vengeful thieves”. This was is in relation to Jewish housing in the Bethlehem vicinity which he cites as “illegal under international law”.

One law higher than that of man is God’s. Modern revisionsts try to position King David’s ancient town of Bethlehem as being “in Palestine”, yet when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream after the family had fled to Egypt to avoid King Herod, the Angel instructs: “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the Land of Israel.”

I think as a New Year resolution we should use the name that God uses, namely Israel, rather than man-made modern labels such as ‘Palestine’ named after the Philistines, Israel’s ancient and most bitter foes. Bethlehem, too, is in ‘Judea’ - not the often-used ‘West Bank’ which conveniently erases its inextricable Jewish link.

Mr McCann states that mothers are “forced to stand endless hours at checkpoints”, yet when I visited Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Hebron in the ‘West Bank’ in late October, all the checkpoints we passed onboard a local Arab bus were completely unmanned and we did not get stopped once all the way from east Jerusalem.

Perhaps Mr McCann needs to update his information before he lambasts the Israeli security precautions set in place to ensure safety from the unrelenting terror attacks which regrettably emanate from the heart of Bethlehem.

COLIN NEVIN
Bangor, Co Down

 

TWO CHILDREN PLAY

A Mideast Bond, Stitched of Pain and Healing
By Ethan Bronner
The New York Times
December 31, 2009

JERUSALEM – He can be impulsive. She has a touch of bossiness. Next-door neighbors for nearly a year, they talk, watch television and explore the world together, wandering into each other’s homes without a second thought. She likes his mother’s eggplant dish. He likes her father’s rice and lamb.

Friendship often starts with proximity, but Orel and Marya, both 8, have been thrust together in a way few elsewhere have. Their playground is a hospital corridor. He is an Israeli Jew severely wounded by a Hamas rocket. She is a Palestinian Muslim from Gaza paralyzed by an Israeli missile. Someone forgot to tell them that they are enemies.

“He’s a naughty boy,” Marya likes to say of Orel with an appreciative smile when he gets a little wild.

When Orel arrived here a year ago, he could not hear, see, talk or walk. Now he does them all haltingly. Half his brain is gone. Doctors were deeply pessimistic about his survival. Today they are amazed at his progress although unclear how much more can be made.

Marya’s spinal cord was broken at the neck and she can move only her head. Smart, sunny and strong-willed, she moves her wheelchair by pushing a button with her chin. Nothing escapes her gaze. She knows that Orel is starting to prefer boys as playmates and she makes room. But their bond remains strong.

In a way, a friendship between two wounded children from opposing backgrounds is not that surprising. Neither understands the prolonged fight over land and identity that so divides people here. They are kids. They play.

But for those who have spent time in their presence at Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem, it is almost more powerful to observe their parents, who do understand. They have developed a kinship that defies national struggle.

“The wounds of our children, their pain, our pain, have connected us,” noted Angela Elizarov, Orel’s mother, one recent day as she sat on a bed in the room she shares with her son. Next door is Marya, her 6-year-old brother, Momen, and their father, Hamdi Aman. “Does it matter that he is from Gaza and I am from Beersheba, that he is an Arab and I am a Jew? It has no meaning to me. He sees my child and I see his child.”

It was two weeks into Israel’s Gaza war last January when Orel was hit. After days in a shelter his mother took him out in the car. As they drove around Beersheba, a siren blared, warning of an incoming rocket. She pushed Orel to the ground, lying protectively on him. When she heard the explosion in the distance, she rose in relief. A second rocket exploded and she saw her son’s head bleeding profusely.

A surgical nurse, she flagged down a passing motorist who drove them to the hospital where she works.

“I saw his brain coming out, everything around me was burning, and I was not even scratched,” she recalled. “When I got to the emergency room, I said to the doctor: ‘You can’t kid me. I know he has no chance of survival.’ The doctor looked away. But after six operations, he is actually making some progress. God took my son from me, but he has given me another one. A year ago, he was the best in his class in sports, the best in math. Now he is learning to walk and talk.”

Her husband, Avrel, who works with children, spends much of the week at home with their 18-month-old daughter but comes often. The couple, originally from Azerbaijan, had been childless for years, and Orel’s birth, coaxed along by infertility treatments in Israel, seemed a miracle.

Their hospital neighbor, Mr. Aman, is a 32-year-old construction worker from Gaza who not only cares for his own two children but helps with Orel. He is regarded as a luminescent presence, an inspiration to staff, volunteers and fellow parents.

This is partly because the pain in his own story is hard to fathom.

More than three years ago, Mr. Aman and his uncle had split the cost of a car and, having paid for it two hours earlier, took it on the road. With them were Mr. Aman’s wife, their three children and his mother.

Prowling above, an Israeli jet fighter on an assassination mission was seeking its target, a militant leader named Ahmad Dahduh. Two missiles were fired at Mr. Dahduh’s car just as it passed Mr. Aman’s, killing Mr. Aman’s oldest son, wife and mother. Marya was thrown from the car.

He and his children have been at Alyn Hospital, which specializes in young people with serious physical disabilities, for nearly the entire time since. The Israeli government, which brought him here for emergency help, wanted him and his children either to return to Gaza or to move to the West Bank. But attention in the Israeli news media produced a bevy of volunteers to fight on his behalf. Marya would not survive in either Gaza or the West Bank. The government has backed off, supporting Mr. Aman on minimum wage and paying for Marya to go to a bilingual Arabic-Hebrew school nearby.

But Mr. Aman has no official status and is also raising a healthy and bright son in a hospital room. He wants residency or a ticket to a Western country where his children will be safe and Marya will get the care she needs.

Volunteers who help are often religious Jews performing national service. Some ask Mr. Aman how he can live among the people whose army destroyed his family.

“I have never felt there was a difference among people – Jews, Muslims, Christians – we are all human beings,” he says. “I worked in Israel for years and so did my father. We know that it is not about what you are but who you are. And that is what I have taught my children.”

Mr. Aman’s hospital door is rarely closed. Asher Franco, an Israeli Jew from Beit Shemesh who has been coming to the hospital for six months for his daughter’s treatments, was a recent visitor. They greeted each other warmly. A manual worker and former combat soldier, he was asked about their friendship.

“I was raised as a complete Zionist rightist,” he said. “The Arabs, we were told, were out to kill us. But I was living in some fantasy. Here in the hospital, all my friends are Arabs.” Ms. Elizarov, Orel’s mother, noted that in places like Alyn Hospital, political tensions do not exist. Then she said, “Do we need to suffer in order to learn that there is no difference between Jews and Arabs?”

 

THE INTERNET KILLER

The woman in the way of a Palestinian prisoner deal
By Matthew Kalman
Time magazine
Dec. 30, 2009

Amneh Muna is high on the Hamas list of Palestinian prisoners to be exchanged for the soldier Gilad Shalit. Serving a life sentence, she has become a symbol of Palestinian women prisoners, a hard-line agitator for Palestinian prisoners’ rights and a constant thorn in the side of her Israeli incarcerators. But the crime for which she has been convicted is so heinous in the eyes of Israelis that few see any justice in letting her go, even for the freedom of one of their own soldiers.

Nine years ago, Muna seduced a 16-year-old Israeli boy over the Internet, luring him into a liaison that resulted in his death. At the time, Muna was a 24-year-old Palestinian journalist from the West Bank city of Ramallah when she began trawling Internet chat rooms at about the time of the second intifadeh. She soon found Ofir Rahum, a schoolboy from the Israeli city of Ashkelon. She said her name was Sali, a newly immigrated Moroccan Jew, and soon initiated a sexually charged cyber-relationship. The young man was bedazzled by the thought of an older woman being so passionate about him. (See pictures from the saga of Gilad Shalit.)

Just weeks after their online liaison began, she convinced Rahum to skip school and hang out with her in Jerusalem. “I miss you Ofir,” Muna wrote in a series of passionate exchanges. “I hope you are coming on wednesday ... please don’t say no I need you to be with me ... please. I will be waiting for you on Wednesday. I will have a good dream about you ... You don’t know how much I am waiting for Wednesday. Love you dear.” She described herself as “169 cm, black hair bob, hazeled eyes” and asked for his description so she could meet him off the bus. Rahum didn’t tell his parents where he was going. He withdrew his savings and told close friends he was off on a tryst with his online lover. “He was very enthusiastic about her because she was older than him. I think that’s what attracted him, her age. We never imagined such a thing could happen,” said his friend Shlomi Abergil.

In her confession, Muna described how she met Rahum in Jerusalem on that day in January 2001, took a taxi to the northern suburbs and from there drove her own car to the Palestinian city of Ramallah. The two cities are almost touching. Rahum probably didn’t know he had left Jerusalem. Muna told police she intended to hold Rahum as a hostage to prod the Israelis to release Palestinian prisoners. But in Ramallah, one of her co-conspirators, Hassan al-Qadi (a “senior armed terror operative,” according to Israeli intelligence), allegedly shot the boy dead at point-blank range. (See how Hamas is wrestling over a prisoner-exchange deal with Israel.)

When Rahum failed to return that night and his parents discovered that he hadn’t been to school, they alerted the police. Logging onto the chat room through his computer, Rahum’s sister tried contacting Sali but there was no reply. “I knew about his relationship with the woman but neither of us knew that she was from Ramallah,” said the boy’s friend Abergil. “She misled him. He told us that she was from Jerusalem.” Israeli police discovered the body of a boy on the outskirts of Ramallah. Israeli intelligence traced Muna’s screen name to an Internet café in Ramallah and tracked her down to her parents’ home in Bir Naballah, a village north of Jerusalem, where she was seized days after the murder.

At trial, her lawyer Jawad Boulos said Muna never intended to kill the boy. “What happened, happened out of her control, without her knowledge and certainly without her consent,” he said. But in courthouse interviews, she reportedly told reporters, “I am proud of myself. I am proud of myself.” In November 2001, Muna was given a life sentence by an Israeli military court. The gunman al-Qadi, meanwhile, had been killed in an explosion in Ramallah in April 2001. It was never established whether he had been targeted by the Israelis or was the victim of a bomb he may have been handling at the time.

Behind bars, Muna became a radical leader of women prisoners and a Palestinian heroine. To the Israelis, however, she was a troublemaker. In 2004, Muna sparked two riots in Sharon Prison near Netanya. Warders said she terrorized the women’s cell block with threats of violence, punishing anyone who challenged her. In 2006, she was transferred for beating up a fellow prisoner. Declaring she was too disruptive to mix with other inmates, officials put Muna in solitary confinement. In 2007, however, she went on hunger strike to protest her isolation, kept in her cell for up to 23 hours a day. In June 2008 she was moved to the Damon Prison in northern Israel, where she has told visitors the conditions are slightly better.

Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, says Muna’s notoriety helped get her on the Hamas list but it also makes Israel unwilling to release her. “She committed a heinous crime but if she is released she’ll be greeted when she returns as a symbol and a heroine. For that reason Israel strongly resists allowing her out, or if she is released they want to expel her from the area. Israel has resisted this exchange for more than three years. The majority of Israelis find the deal distasteful but accept it as the price necessary to bring back an Israeli soldier that was kidnapped,” says Steinberg.

 

A SURVIVOR’S STORY

Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat?
By Tom Gross
The Wall Street Journal
March 2, 2009

Hillary Clinton arrives in Israel today on her first visit since becoming Secretary of State, at a time when many influential people in America and beyond are clamoring for the Obama administration to pressure Israel into making major concessions.

Before she succumbs to those pressures, she might want to bear in mind the pain Israel suffered the last time it was forced to make such concessions – when Mrs. Clinton’s husband was president.

It is a pain that has many names and faces. One of them is Kinneret Chaya Boosany. At the very moment that Barack Obama was delivering his historic victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park in the early hours of November 5, a small miracle was happening over 6000 miles away in Israel when Kinneret gave birth to her first child.

Six years earlier, Kinneret, then a 23-year-old part-time dancer and student of alternative medicine, was blown up as she worked as a waitress in a small coffee shop on Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street. (Like many young Israelis, she worked as a waitress to earn extra money. She was also exceptionally good-looking: Heads would turn wherever she went.)

Her injuries that night were so horrific that the doctors gave her only a 2 percent chance of survival. She remained in a coma for four months. When she awoke, she changed her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya (meaning “Kinneret Lives” in Hebrew). In her own words, “Kinneret died that night in the flames, but Kinneret Chaya was born.”

JUST ONE OF THOUSANDS

She is just one of the thousands of Israelis – both Jews and Arabs – injured by Palestinian suicide bombers who were sent out on their deadly missions by either the Islamist Hamas movement or by the Fatah faction headed by “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. The number of Israelis killed in buses and pizza parlors and shopping malls has been greatly reduced in recent years after the government built a security fence to make it harder for bombers to get through.

Today Kinneret has one fully operating lung, sees in only one eye and hears in only one ear. Her skin still bears the scars of burns over 85 percent of her body. She spends many hours in a heavy pressure suit and face mask to prevent the scarring getting worse, and she cannot go out in the day because the sun has become her enemy.

But Kinneret has struggled back to life, through countless operations and long sessions of physiotherapy, learning to accept her disfigured body and to smile in spite of her scarred face. And then in November, even though the doctors said she had only a very slim chance of a successful pregnancy, this beautiful former teenage ballerina, who got married at the start of last year, gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

This story is worth reflecting on as Hillary Clinton arrives here in Israel. Barely a day goes by without Jimmy Carter and assorted European politicians calling on Obama to coerce Israel into hastily withdrawing from more land no matter what the security risks. The reigning Nobel Peace Prize laureate, for instance, former Finnish Prime Minister Martti Ahtisaari, went so far as to use the prize ceremony as a soapbox to urge Obama to make pressure on Israel the principal focus of his first year in office.

NOT A VOTE AGAINST PEACE

Like most Israelis Kinneret Chaya, who I saw again last week, desperately wants peace with the Palestinians. Indeed it is my experience of covering the region as a reporter for many years that no one wants the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be peaceably resolved more than Israelis do.

But Israelis are also very aware of the dangers of naively handing over territory to terrorists, as was done during the presidency of Secretary of State Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, in the 1990s. The vote by Israelis in elections two weeks ago was not a vote against peace as many Western commentators claim. It was a vote for realism and security.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s likely next prime minister, has been wrongly vilified as being against a two-state solution. In fact he is open to the creation of a Palestinian state but only if it is one that will live in peace with Israel. And for this, Netanyahu argues, you can’t simply wave a magic wand at some fancy signing ceremony on the White House lawn and say “hey presto” – which is exactly what leftist politicians tried to do at the Oslo signing ceremony in 1993.

First the Palestinians need to do the hard work of building institutions that would allow such a state to succeed – a functioning economy, the rule of law, and so on. And Netanyahu is very willing to offer Israeli assistance in building such mechanisms.

Avigdor Lieberman, one of Netanyahu’s possible coalition partners, who has been misleadingly described as an extreme rightist by many journalists, has been even more explicit than Netanyahu in calling for a two-state solution, including the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

PERES: UNILATERAL ISRAELI CONCESSIONS A MISTAKE

Even Shimon Peres, Israel’s dovish president, now has second thoughts about unilateral Israeli concessions. Having long championed territorial withdrawals to attain peace, Peres last week acknowledged that it was a mistake for Israel to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 without first having a peaceful and democratic Palestinian party to hand that territory to.

Israel has always shown a willingness to make peace if a peace partner exists, as it did in the case of the late Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Jordan’s King Hussein. Israelis are still waiting for a Palestinian Anwar Sadat.

One of Netanyahu’s most difficult challenges during his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 was coping with the Clinton administration that berated him for his belief that peace must be built from the bottom up through the liberalization of Palestinian society, rather than from the top down by giving land to terrorists. The question is whether President Obama and Hillary Clinton have come round to Netanyahu’s way of thinking.

Kinneret Chaya is an exemplary and courageous figure. The international community owes it to her and the countless other terror victims to confront the basic realities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. By all means pressure Israel into making concessions that do not threaten its security – into not expanding West Bank settlements, for instance. But Israeli concessions will never resolve the conflict in themselves. They will only work if there is corresponding pressure on the Palestinians to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and to make aid to the Palestinians conditional on putting an end to their inciting for the destruction of Israel.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.