Broken Hearts, Shattered Lives

Posted: Jun 09, 2003 12:00 AM

TEL-AVIV – I wanted to put my arm around her, console her.  Her entire body was overwhelmed by grief over her slain daughter.  She was shaking more than she was crying, although tears were streaming down the creases of her angst-ridden face.  There were more than 100 people around her, yet her anguish was more piercing, almost palpable.  Her pain seemed as fresh and as raw as it must have been the night, two years ago, that her daughter’s life was cut short by a suicide bomber.

  Five feet from her was a stone memorial, containing the names of 21 women—girls, mostly—who were savagely murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in the name of jihad.  The mother was surrounded by others who had lost their daughters, sisters, friends.  Yet she was alone.  I wanted to comfort her, but I couldn’t speak to her in Hebrew or Russian.  But language was not the real barrier; life was. 

  What could I tell her?  Any death of a young person is senseless—what sense is there in a hit and run or cancer or suicide—but there is something profoundly tragic about a murder whose sole purpose is to continue centuries of persecution, targeting an entire people for extinction under reasons that have changed, but an intent that has not.

   Just before midnight on June 1, 2001, a young Palestinian was standing in line, talking to the young girls waiting to get inside for a party at the Dolphinarium, a popular nightclub on the beachfront in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Without warning, he squeezed the trigger inside his hand—and within moments, the lives of 17 people were ended.  Four more died at the hospital.  Most of the victims were children.  Mostly recent immigrants from Russia, they were almost all young girls, ranging in age from 14 to 21.  Only three of those murdered would have been old enough to buy a beer in America. 

  Even by Israeli standards, the Dolphinarium attack was particularly vicious—and bloody.  Taking place on the eve of the latest “peace summit,” the two-year anniversary memorial served as a potent reminder of the true aim of the current intifada.  It is not about statehood, though the Palestinian people no doubt want that.  It is not about fighting “occupation”; there are plenty of other avenues for achieving that objective.  It isn’t just about terror either, although the Israeli people are certainly terrorized.  To paraphrase any number of radical Islamic clerics, it is about the destruction of “the Jews.”

  Instead of preparing Palestinian youths for eventual independence by filling them with civic pride, Yasser Arafat and his henchmen have poisoned their minds with propaganda that could have rolled off the tongue of Hitler himself.  To call it anti-Semitic does not capture its essence.  Palestinian youth are taught not just to hate Jews, but to kill them.  This is not the cause of freedom, but of genocide.  New talk of “peace” does not change this. 

  New Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has condemned suicide bombings because they are counterproductive, not because it is wrong to slaughter innocent men, women, and children.  He claims to want peace, but he insists on ending Israel by flooding the tiny country with millions of Palestinians—an indirect, though no less effective, means of achieving the destruction of “the Jews.”

  Maybe there should be a Palestinian state.  But not as a bargaining chip to stop the neverending torrent of mass murders, because they will not stop.  They might—might—slow, but even then only temporarily.  The “cause” of statehood is merely the latest justification for the slaughter of Jews; those with an unquenchable thirst for Jewish blood will find another.  Jews have only controlled Israel in modern times since 1948, yet they have been targeted for extinction for far longer.

  Determined to stand strong in the face of evil, to cloak fear behind strength, Israel rebuilds the sites of most bombings within days.  Not the Dolphinarium, however.  There are other businesses right nearby—a banquet hall and other nightclubs—but no Dolphinarium.  Even if it had been rebuilt, though, not everything would have appeared back to normal.  No amount of cosmetic finishing could piece back together a mother’s broken heart and shattered life.