Saturday, October 31, 2009


In today's 'Haaretz' I picked up on a letter from the mother of an Israeli soldier to a Palestinian sniper who was sentenced to eleven life terms for shooting her son, David, another seven IDF soldiers and two Israeli civilians. The headline in 'Haaretz' reads, "Forgiveness of dead IDF soldier's mother leaves Palestinian killer cold." after the Palestinian in question, Ta'er Hamad, rejected the mother's attempts at "reconciliation" as being naive at best., while adding ""Mrs. Robi did not explain what led the soldier David to enlist," he continues. "She doesn't know the iron fact that her son not only took part in the torture of my people, but stood at the head of the perpetrators of the killing and murder."

Mrs Robi is an activist in an organistion called 'Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace', which is also known as the 'Parents Circle-Families Forum'. Now, I am sure that in a number of respects this group might be well intentioned and it is extremely likely that Mrs Robi's grief at the loss of her son has led her to some understanding of the pain experienced by countless Palestinians. Nevertheless, she demonstrates an extreme myopia when it comes to understanding why her son died. Moreover,  her writing a second letter on receiving Ta'er's reply appears to indicate that she hasn't quite understood why he won't meet with her. Ta'er Hamad, however, has no illusions and he is perfectly correct when he says, "I cannot meet with the occupier of our land on the same land. I carried out the operation as part of the struggle for freedom, justice and the establishment of an independent state, not out of a lust or love for killing. Acts of violence are a necessity imposed upon us by the occupation and I shall not abandon this path for as long as the occupation continues."

The perpetrators and the victims here should not be confused with one another and Mrs Robis letter, her myopia, her naivity, is actually an insult to the young Palestinian fighter. Indeed, how would some partisan waiting to go to his death for kiling the members of an "SS Einsatzkommando" have felt had he received a letter from the mother of one of the dead forgiving him for what he had done. Indeed, I can only envisage the contempt with which a 'Hezbollah' POW would treat a letter like this. Nevertheless, Ta'er Hamad does provide an opportunity for Mrs Robis, and all Israelis, when he says that he will not abandon his path until the occupation ends. In her second letter to Ta'er, Mrs Robis wrote, that her son had said: "If I go to reserve duty I will treat everyone with respect and so will my soldiers.' I think that these are not the words of a violent person. I think that these are the words of a person who is certain that we should not be in the occupied territories." This is not enough and if her son had been so "certain" that Israel should not be in the occupied territories there are organisations such as 'Yesh Gvul' and 'Courage to Refuse' he could have turned to.

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