JWR Wandering Jews

Jewish World Review March 29, 2000 / 5 Nissan, 5761



By Yaffa Ganz

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- We are a people who prize life. It is the ultimate, the supreme gift from G-d. The Land of Israel is called Eretz Hachayim   —   the Land of Life. Yet often, we are surrounded by death. Is death the price we must pay for future life in our Land?

A few days ago, Haaretz -- the leading Israeli "intellectual" paper ("the paper for people who think") -- featured a two page article on the deaths of Arab "children" in our current war. There were sixty "Palestinian" children who were "killed' by Israeli forces (so claim the Arabs) in the past six months of terror and warfare.

The paper neglected to explain that these children (approximate ages eleven to eighteen) were all victims, not of Israeli agression, but of purposeful, premeditated Arab policy. They were sent out, time after time after time, as front line attackers on Israeli citizens and soldiers. They were the rock-throwers who smashed windshields on Jewish cars on the highway and who aimed for Jewish persons old, young, infants, soldiers, whoever came within their range of "fire". They did not use guns, but they were well practiced and skilled with slingshots weapons of yesteryear, but highly developed and sophisticated, just as capable of killing as any gun. Bullet or stone if thrown with sufficient force both are agents of death.

I looked at the picture of all those smiling junior soliders and young people, the young Arab sheehads (martyrs) who gave their lives to kill Jews. Then I uttered a few ancient, Jewish curses (straight from the Bible) and threw the paper away. I am not heartless (are all Jews not rachmanim b'nei rachmanim merciful people?), however, my heart was full to burst with Jewish faces, Jewish children, Jewish grief.

In the past six months eight Jewish families have lost their father or mother, or in one case, both parents. More than thirty children have been left orphans as a result of Arab killings. Others were hurt (some very seriously. Three children from one family in Kfar Darom had limbs amputated). They were brutally injured, hospitalized, traumatized. I wondered if Haaretz would publish a pageful of pictures of Jewish children.

Last night, I received a phone call from a distraught daughter in law. A neighbor's sixteen year old son had just been stabbed in the building next to theirs. It was evening, and the boy had just returned from the small synagogue next to their home. He had been only a few yards from his house, in Ramot, the center of Jerusalem. His parents are olim from Russia, wonderful, unusual people who travelled a long and difficult road to reach the Land of Israel. I feel privileged to be one of their many friends. The boy himself is a lovely, smiley, genteel young man a serious Torah student and a son any Jewish parent would be proud of.


THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF FAMILIES orphans, widows, widowers victims of terrorist attacks of the past six months. Funds are being collected for all of the families and can be sent to a central address. Money will be distributed according to need, or you may earmark sums for specific families.

  —   Central Fund of Israel, P.O.Box 6724, Efrat 90435, Israel.

1) Leiberman Family: Father Rabbi Hillel Leiberman was killed on his way to Kever Yosef (Joseph's Tomb) on Erev Yom Kippur. He left a wife, Yael, and seven children.

2) Didovsky Family: Live in southern section Har Chevron: Mother Rina, a teacher, was killed on a school bus on her way to school in Kiryat Arba. She left a husband, Chaim, and six small children.

3) Ben Ami Family: Southern section Har Chevron: Eliyahu Ben-Ami was killed in same terrorist attack as Rina Didovsky. He left a widow, Mazal, and two young daughters.

4) Cohen Family: Live in Kfar Darom, south of Gaza: Three children lost their limbs in the Arab bombing of their school bus.

5) Biton Family: Kfar Darom. Gabi Biton was killed while accompanying children on school bus. His wife Avigaill is left with six small children.

6) Kahane Family: Live in Tapuach in the Shomron. Rabbi Binyamin Kahane and his wife Tali were both killed while driving home with their children. One child was injured. They left six orphans ages four months to fourteen years..

7) Tzalach Family, Gush Katif: The father Roni was killed while working in his hothouse. He left a wife and a year old son.

8) Zaguri Family from Netivot: School busdriver. Killed in Gush Katif. Left a wife Shula and three small children.

(Note: This list does not include soldiers or civilians who were victims of bombing atacks or who were hurt, run down, or otherwise wounded by Arab terrorists. Nor does it include the family of the American neurologist, Dr. Shemuel Gillis, who was shot and killed on his way home from Hadassah Hospital. He left a wife and six grown children.)

My daughter in law reported that the army was out full force searching the valley which divides their section of Ramot from an Arab village across the road. The entire area was lit up; the police were there; an ambulance had taken the boy to the hospital.

The event was reported once on the 8:30 evening news, but since that particular day was, unfortunately, full of other Arab news shootings, riots, etc. it did not receive any extended attention. The broadcaster said the boy was "slightly hurt".

I walked around my house like a lioness in a cage. My first reaction was to reach for my Tehillim King David's Book of Psalms, the Jewish cure for all ailments. But my second reaction was to scream. Loud. When the Jews first complained about the slavery in Egypt, the Torah says vayizaku. You could translate that as cried out, hollered, shouted, or ..... screamed. I wanted to scream. How could G-d let such a thing happen to these, of all, people?

It shouldn't happen to anyone, but to a family like this who had suffered so much to remain Jews and to reach the Land of Israel? To people with so much faith? And to such a lovely, fine, good, young man? Of course, I knew my questions were ridiculous even before I asked them. After all, Jews could have (and probably did) ask the same questions for the past two thousand years. I knew the answer lay in believing, in accepting, in continuing to do what was right and what had to be done. Just as Jews have always done. Nonetheless, the cry erupted from my heart and the questions flooded my head.

And (imagine!) - such a thing should happen to friends of mine?? And... (and this was, I admit, the most jolting question of all...) just one house away from where my son and daughter in law and five grandchildren live? Suddenly, the border, the Arabs, the terror was no longer theoretical, far away. (We do have one child living in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip and I have developed certain psychological self-defense techniques to keep calm when things get noisy there, but my Jerusalem defenses are not up in place yet.) Yet here it was the ugly, eternal hatred against the Jewish people; the insistence that we, of all peoples, have no right to our land; that violence, murder, Evil right here in the midst of Jerusalem, the City of Peace are all justified to remove us from our G-d given home. And by whom? A "people" who had no national identity and did not exist except as part of the greater Arab people in the Middle East a mere fifty years ago. (When I was a child, the "Palestinians" were the Jews who lived in Palestine!)

That night, my daughter in law spoke to her nine year old son about the stabbing (the younger children were sleeping). He was furious. "Why doesn't the army send a car full of explosives in to the Arab village and blow them up, like the Arabs do to us?" he asked.

"Because we are not Arabs," said his mother. "We do not kill innocent people at random."

My grandson wasn't convinced, but he went to bed. Twenty minutes later, he called out, "There are no innocent people in that village!" Childish? Simplistic? Perhaps. Yet from the mouths of babes will the truth be spoken.

The following morning I managed to contact my friend. Her son's "slight hurt" consisted of a deep wound in the stomach area, just below his heart (he's a tall kid. Perhaps the Arab, fortunately, aimed too "low"). The knife had plunged in as far as it could go. The doctors operated; now comes the waiting. We are experts at waiting. We have two thousand years of experience. G-d is eternal, but we are finite creatures. How long can our patience last? Must it be unlimited as well?

P.S. AN UNEXPECTED POSTSCRIPT. It is now 8:00 P.M. As I was writing this, I turned on the news. Arabs just shot into the Avraham Avinu complex in the city of Hebron.(The complex includes the old, renovated synagogue, a small park for the children and several apartment buildings. All the dwellers in the complex are Jewish.) A ten month old girl was playing in the garden. She was targeted by an Arab sniper and with one shot aimed at her head, she was killed. Her father, who was close-by, was wounded by a second bullet. The fire came from the Arab neighborhood directly over-looking the complex. Not an accident. Not a youth throwing stones. But a baby held by her mother and willfully killed by an accurate sniper. Will Haaretz write about the pain and suffering of this family?

All Jews are one and Eretz Yisrael the Land of Israel - is the heart of our world. A knife driven into Jerusalem tears at the heart of every Jew. So wherever you are, pray for the welfare of Zion and her children. For the welfare of Zion is synonomous with the welfare of all Jews, everywhere.

P.S.S. By the time this article was completed yesterday, three more bombing attacks, a massive stoning of a car and several shootings have taken place. Part of the Arabs "heating up strategy" for the general Arab conference to be held today. Several people were killed including two teen age boys waiting for a schoolbus, and many more were seriously injured. Each one is a world. And our worlds the Jewish world is intertwined. We are all one. You, personally, may not be able to do much to alleviate their suffering, but you can stretch out a hand and offer your love, and your support.

May they all be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and may our people finally know the blessings of life and peace in their land.

Yaffa Ganz is the award winning author of Cinnamon and Myrrh and All Things Considered (Mesorah Publications N.Y.). She has written more than forty Jewish juvenile titles including Sand and Stars --- a 2000 year saga of Jewish history for teen readers. You may contact her by clicking here.


© 2001, Yaffa Ganz