The Jerusalem Post August, 30 2001

BETTER DESPISED BUT ALIVE

By Esther Wachsman

Is there anyone left besides Foreign Minister Shimon Peres who won't allow facts to distract him - who still believes Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat? Perhaps Yossi et Yossi.

Other than the above, I believe our people have finally opened their eyes - or had them blasted open. After two horrible massacres - at the Dolphinarium and at Sbarro - can anyone still believe in restraint?

The world loves the Jews when they are dying without resistance. I, for one, am willing to forfeit that love, and stay despised and alive.

I haven't stopped crying since the funeral of Michal Raziel, a 15-year-old girl from my neighborhood whose sisters were dear friends of my beloved Nachshon; the oldest sister was the initiator of his memorial book, and worked day and night to have it finished for the first-year memorial service. The baby of the family was bombed to death. Do you remember her name? Do you remember any other names among the 15 dead? Do you know any of the names of the young boys and girls killed at the Dolphinarium?

A few years ago Yad Vashem began a project called "Every person has a name." The point was to gather and remember those martyrs of the Holocaust as living, real people, with families and feelings, likes and dislikes, loves and emotions, rather than just "the six million." To Mrs. Raziel (a widow), her daughter was not a statistic of terror, but a beloved teenage girl with talents and dreams, aspirations and desires which will never be fulfilled.

"He who has taken one life is as if he has destroyed an entire world," says the Talmud, for not only has he destroyed that person, but all of his potential descendants. Michal and Nachshon, and scores of victims of terror will have no descendants. Yet, how quickly we forget, and how cheap their lives become.

Israel today, to my dismay, is the most unsafe place for a Jew to live.

AND WHAT was our government's response to that massacre at Sbarro? Closing Orient House! As if the "house" can atone for the deaths of precious Jewish souls. The people who incited at that house - as they preach hatred of every Jew in their schools, mosques and media - have never been arrested or tried. But that "house" now proudly bears an Israeli flag.

Is that the way to deal with terror? With massacres?

Somehow, I think not.

Is sending Peres to talk to Arafat or his underlings the solution? Last time he spoke to Arafat, there was a terrorist attack the next day!

It takes time, we are told, it is a long process; we must be patient.

Well, Mr. Peres, your New Middle East, starting at Oslo, began eight years ago. It is almost seven years since my son, whom you dared to call "a victim of peace," was brutally murdered! Do you really still have faith in your joint Nobel Peace Prize winner? Do you believe he is a man of peace, striving to stop the massacres and rehabilitate his people?

Where are the millions - nay, billions of dollars of aid Arafat received from the international community? Why isn't that money being used for the health, wealth and stability of Palestinian society? Because it has all gone to buy arms and weapons to attack the enemy - us; that is, whatever hasn't been deposited in his Swiss bank account. Why is there no outcry by his fellow Palestinians, and by the international community about what has become of all that money, generously donated to help the "poor Palestinians," for which we are paying the price?

Is there no leader of stature in all of Israel who can set things right? In a recent edition of Ha'aretz, I read an article by a Hamas leader, stating that he and his colleagues are willing to fight and die for the next 20 or 100 years! They will never recognize the "Jewish entity" in "their" land.

Well, at least they tell it as it is, unlike the mind games Arafat plays. And so, don't be too shocked - perhaps all the talk about protecting and cosseting Arafat for fear of getting Hamas in his stead is not so smart. Perhaps under Hamas leadership there will be open and clear rules to this (non) war. And maybe, just maybe, as a great statesman once said, "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." I, for one, am sick and tired of living in fear.

(c) Jerusalem Post



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