By Frimet Roth
It has been a struggle to keep my daughter’s memory alive. Israeli society prefers to forget terror attacks and forge ahead. But for 24 hours each year, we lift the lid on our grief and let the tears flow. My precious Malki died at the age of 15 in the terror attack that has come to symbolize the Second Intifada: the bombing of Jerusalem’s Sbarro Restaurant in August 2001. That massacre snuffed out the lives of 15 Jews, among them eight children.
We remembered on this Remembrance Day the 129 Israeli children killed by Palestinians during the past 13 years. The world, preoccupied with mourning Palestinian children, forgets the atrocities committed against Jewish children. We must remind them.
Malki left us only her writings and her art. They offer a glimpse into the soul of a sensitive, religious, idealistic, artistic and talented Israeli teen. From her diary between September 2000 and June 2001. April 29th:
“I woke at 10. Levona and I went first to R.L. [a teacher] whose mother passed away last week (it is very sad because she is an only child, unmarried and has no father. She sat shiva alone!) … I went to a lecture given by Rav Elon with Shulamit, Leah, Efrat Shafir and Chen [friends]. … didn’t exactly understand the lecture but it was fun.”
Met Zvi [brother] there and stayed.” Later, in a different colored pen, she added: “Aryeh Hershkowitz, may his death be avenged, was shot dead a month ago. Now his son was shot dead near Ofra!!! Only the little brother can say Kaddish.”
We would never have imagined that our pain could deepen. But one and a half years ago, Prime Minster Netanyahu taught us otherwise. Discarding reasoned judicial rulings, verdicts and sentences, he caved to Hamas and released hundreds of convicted terrorist murderers in the Gilad Shalit deal. He then assured the public that he had contacted the victims of those evildoers to explain his decision, when in fact he had not – and never did. Malki’s murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, the engineer of the Sbarro bombing, was among those Palestinian prisoners. [Tamimi and her fiancé] were married at a well-publicized extravaganza before throngs of Hamas supporters and are now expecting a baby.
The late Margaret Thatcher once said: “… behind us [are] many fine declarations … of good intent. We need action; action to which all countries are committed until the terrorist knows that he has no haven, no escape. Alas that is far from true today.”
Here in Israel where the threat of terrorism is constant, terrorists fear little…like Malki’s murderer: “I do not regret what I did… I will be free again.” She knew our prime minister better than we did.
Let us all resolve today to prevent a recurrence of the Shalit deal outrage. State leaders must find other means of resolving crises. They must be reminded of the significance of justice: murderers belong in prison serving sentences meted out to them by our judges and juries – not by our prime ministers.
While we cannot return our murdered children, we can restore our discarded justice.
Frimet Roth is a freelance writer in Jerusalem. Visit the Malki Foundation (www.malkifoundation.org), which provides support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child.
This is an abbreviated version of an article that appears in its entirety on the Ledger website at www.jewishledger.com.