“Because if he is released, I will no longer be able to live”

July 29, 2013

Relatives of Israelis killed in terror attacks yesterday hold up signs as they demonstrate outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem as the Israeli Cabinet voted to approve Netanyahu’s proposal to free 104 convicted terrorists


Israeli police search for clues in the aftermath of a Palestinian terror attack

 

There is a follow-up to this dispatch here.

 

“BUT MY MOTHER IS NOT WITH ME”

[Note by Tom Gross]

As you may have heard (and many of you may not have done since most Westerners aren’t paying much attention to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to re-start Middle East peace talks), the Israeli government – under pressure from Kerry and Barack Obama – have agreed to release all “pre-Oslo” convicted Palestinian murderers. 104 prisoners in total will be released as a “goodwill gesture” to the Palestinians.

In turn, the Palestinians are giving nothing. In fact, European-funded official Palestinian media are today glorifying these killers as heroes.

Below is an op-ed that was published today in Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s highest-selling newspaper, by Adi Moses who was injured when she was 8 years old in a Palestinian terrorist attack in which her pregnant mother and 5-year-old brother were burned alive. (With thanks to Daniel Seaman for translating Adi’s op-ed from Hebrew for this email list.) Adi’s father Abbie Moses wrote a separate “open letter to Netanyahu” that was published last Friday.

After this article I attach an article of my own published in The Wall Street Journal in 2009 – often, the survivors of terror attacks are forgotten about. There are thousands of other Israeli children like Adi Moses who have lost relatives in terror attacks.

 

UPDATE

Most Israeli papers today criticize Netanyahu for the deal.

The headline in today’s Yediot Ahronot reads “the murderers will be released.”

In its lead editorial, Ma’ariv says “This is a Shylock deal. The Americans, the Arabs and the Europeans are asking the senior Jewish representative, the private and collective Israel: Cut some flesh from your body so that we will know that you are serious.”

Among the 104 prisoners going free:

* Abu Na’ame Abrahim Mahmus Samir, who blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing six passengers.

* Kamal Awad Ali Ahmad, currently serving 16 life terms, for the torture and murder of 16 people.

* Ahmed Mahmed Jameel Shahada, who was sentenced to a 47 year term for the rape and murder of a 13 year-old Israeli boy. The boy was killed by being beaten on the head with an Iron bar.

 

* Thank you to all those who have recommended this dispatch, for example, Douglas Murray in The Spectator (last paragraph here).

* You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also press “Like” on that page.


BUT ME, YOU DO NOT REALLY KNOW AT ALL

But me, you do not really know at all
By Adi Moses
Yediot Ahronot
July 29, 2013

“You know the story of my family. In 1987 a terrorist threw a firebomb at the car my family was travelling in. He murdered my mother and my brother Tal, and injured my father, my brother, his friend and myself. It is a story you know. But... Me, you do not really know.

I was 8 years old when this happened. While my father was rolling me in the sand to extinguish my burning body, I looked in the direction of our car and watched as my mother burned in front of my eyes. This story did not end that day in 1987. This story is the difficult life I have led since then.

I am still 8 years old, hospitalized in critical condition. Screaming from pain. Bandaged from head to toe. And my head is not the same. No longer full of golden long hair. The head is burnt. The face, back, the legs and arms, burnt.

I am surrounded by family members, but my mother is not with me. Not hugging and caressing. She is not the one changing my bandages. In the room next door, my brother Tal in lying. Screaming in pain. I call out to him to count sheep with me so he can fall asleep. Three months later, little Tal dies of his wounds. I am seated, all bandaged up, on a chair in the cemetery and I watch as my little brother is buried.

For many months I am forbidden to be out in the sun because of the burns, so I wear long pants and long sleeved shirts to school. In July and August as well. And under the clothes I yet wear a pressure suit meant to [prevent hypertrophic] scarring. It is painful and hot and itchy.

Here I am at 12 years old, entering another operation to correct a scar that limited movement in my leg. And then I am celebrating my Bat Mitzvah. And my mother is not at the celebration. So I cry quietly at night and write to her.

I grow older. I don’t like that people in the street stare at me, don’t like it when the cashier at the supermarket asks – “Oh, child, what happened to you?” I don’t like it that every such look and every such question make me run and cry.

I reach the age of 14 and still live in Alfei Menashe. I have a father, an older brother and friends, I am a good pupil. But I also have unbearable scars. I do not have a mother. So I lay in the road and say to myself that if a car comes, whatever happens, happens. But it doesn’t happen. So I pick myself up and return home.

All those years of adolescence, my friends preferred activity is to go to the beach. But I don’t go because I have scars. Because I am burnt. And I am ashamed.

Then I am 18 and want to enlist but I am not drafted. The army refuses to take responsibility for my scars. So I volunteer in the military and serve for a year and a half.

After the army I study for my bachelors degree. At college I meet new people who, of course, ask me what happened to me. I respond “terror attack”. And they always answer “wow, really? I thought hot water spilled on you when you were little.”

And the clothes? The shirts with the long sleeves were replaced with short sleeves but no tee shirt, not at all, because I have an ugly scar under the left shoulder. Absolutely no short skirts or pants – because I have ugly scars on the legs.

Today I am 34 years old, exactly my mother’s age at the time of the attack. From now on she will forever be younger than me. And still, at least four times a week I answer questions about what happened to me. And sometimes I wonder whether that guy is not interested in me because of the scars. And I always have to explain my scars and tell where they are exactly before I expose myself to a man.

I am 34 years old but the last few days I have returned to being that 8 year old facing that burning car and waiting for her mother to come out of it.

Yitzhak Rabin, who was Minister of Defense at the time of the attack, promised my dad that they will catch the terrorist. And they did. And they sentenced him. To two life sentences and another 72 years in prison.

And you cabinet ministers? With the wave of a hand you decided to free him. He who caused all of this story. And you will not convince me that you understand my pain because you don’t. And no explanations that claim to be rational will help.

You are heartless beings and abstruse. With your decision to release the murderer you spit on the graves of my mother and my brother Tal. You erase this story from the pages of the History of the State of Israel. And in return for what?

I beg you to remove him from the list of those to be released. Leave him in jail. That he rot as he should rot. Don’t light again the fire that he lit. Don’t destroy those who are left in this family. Save us. Because if he is released – my father, brother and I will no longer be able to live.”

 

Tom Gross adds: Incidentally, on behalf of another family whose lives were devastated in a 2002 terror attack, and who are in dire financial need while still trying to cope with the aftermath of that attack, if anybody of substantial means wishes to help them, please email me and I will put you in touch with them.


THE REMARKABLE STORY OF KINNERET CHAYA

Israel Can’t Afford Any More Dangerous Concessions
By Tom Gross
The Wall Street Journal
March 2, 2009

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123594125500204049.html
www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/001015.html

TEL AVIV– 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.