Seven years ago this week, the
bombing of Jerusalem's Sbarro restaurant took the lives of fifteen innocent
Jews. Among them was my daughter, Malki.
Seven is a significant number in Jewish tradition. The seventh day of the week
is the Sabbath. The seventh year, the Shmittah, imposes a moratorium on
farming in Israel along with unrestricted access to private fields for
everyone. The bride circles the groom
seven times under the wedding canopy. Seven
is the number of Israel's native fruits as well as the number of divine
commandments given to Noah and his descendants.
But seven is not unique in the life-long process of grieving for a child. It is just one more year of incessant pain and
This year's anniversary of the Sbarro terrorist massacre, however, is likely to
coincide with an event certain to exacerbate those sentiments. Two boats
chartered by the California-based Free Gaza Movement left Cyprus a few days
ago. They are currently heading for Gaza. Dubbed the Free Gaza and the Liberty,
the organizers say they are transporting 45 self-proclaimed humanitarians from
The identities of most of the participants and their date of arrival have not
been released. Yet the media buzz is that they will dock on the date of the
yahrzeit, August 21.
Among the handful of passengers' names that have been publicized are those of
an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor; the sister-in-law of former British Prime
Minister and now Middle East envoy, Tony Blair; an Israeli left-wing activist;
and a Catholic nun. Rumor has it that actor Leonardo di Caprio is also on board
and South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is one of several dignitaries
to have endorsed the voyage.
The participants in this lame-brained scheme are probably bubbling over with
good intentions, convinced that the Gazans are pitiful victims. What is
baffling is their indifference to the hard facts of the conflict into which
they are plunging head first.
While Lauren Booth, Blair's sister-in-law, says she is eager to show the world
the reality of what's going on in Gaza, it is evident that reality plays only a
bit part in this Hollywoody production
Reality rears its ugly head, for example, in a piece of footage that these
humanitarians most likely did not watch. A film circulated last week shows
Gazan children at a summer camp graduation where some 200 boys strutted their
With soldierly precision, the Hamas-trained pre-teens are shown marching and
repeating after their instructor: "Kill!", "Slaughter!",
"Blow Up!" and "Charge!" Wearing T-shirts bearing the logo
"Despite the Siege", they somersault over one another while older
Hamas militants shoot into the air. Wooden rifles are used as props in some
exercises while fingers pointed like guns feature in others.
Many more stunts not seen on the film were detailed in the international press:
"The youths leaped through hoops set on fire...an older youth lay on the
ground as a minivan drove over him [and he] later smashed concrete plates set
on fire with a quick snap of his hands... youths leaped off wooden bars, a few
landing in a smoldering fire pit lit below them all while bearded gunmen fired
their assault rifles in the air and around the youths' feet."
In the film, a journalist asks one
camper what he would like to be when he grows up: "I want to be a military
man, a holy warrior."
Any rational observer of these campers could not delude himself about the
Gazans intentions. As the International Herald Tribune summed it up: "The
goal of the Hamas camp was clearly to train the youth in military tactics and
impart the militant Islamic ideology that has characterized Hamas.
The "Free Gaza" activists exhibit total disregard for the innocent
Israeli victims of Gaza's past terror attacks. Their brash interference with
measures that preempt more such tragedies declares that stance loud and clear.
Israel's vital security operations off the Gazan coast are designed to prevent
the infiltration of terrorists, weapons and other materials of terrorist
warfare into Gaza. Yet the protection of innocent Israeli lives apparently does
not cut it with these activists as a legitimate humanitarian goal.
And what of the Palestinians who suffer at the hands of their own regime,
officially recognized as a terrorist group by major Western governments? Are
the "Free Gaza" supporters at all disturbed by Hamas' recent brutal
attacks on their own brethren, Fatah activists?
Would any of the group's members consent to live, for even a day, under the
Islamist totalitarian regime they are now bolstering? Would they send their own
children to the sort of camps that Hamas runs?
Organizers of this puerile project say their cargo includes 200 hearing aids
intended for Gazan children who have been injured by explosions and sonic boom.
Again, they seem unaware of the facts: Israel routinely admits Gazans into its
hospitals to receive cutting-edge medical care free of charge and transfers
many tons of humanitarian aid daily into the Strip.
With a little further investigation, the "Free Gaza" meddlers might
also have learned about my daughter's camp experiences. On the day of her
murder, Malki was headed to a Jerusalem suburb to attend a meeting of
counselors preparing for their summer camp. The activities included swimming,
hiking, singing, dancing, drama and sports. Malki had also returned only
several days earlier from the north of Israel where she had been a volunteer
counselor at Etgarim, a camp for physically and mentally disabled children. Her
smile beams out from the photos we have of her there, hugging campers with Down
But introducing information like
this into the mix would confuse the Gaza-bound activists. Their support for
this terrorist enclave can only survive as long as they remain blind and
This folly will render the prospect of wholesome camps for Gazan children more
unlikely and the chance of a lasting peace here ever more elusive.