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On August 19th 2002 Shmuel Taubenfeld was only three months old. All he could have known in a life that was brutally cut short at nine pm that evening was the beauty of his mother's smile and the warmth of her milk. A suicide bomber, claimed by Hamas, and disguised as an orthodox Jew boarded the no. 2 bus he was traveling on, and together with his mother, who would leave behind 12 siblings, took not only his young life but that of six more children and 17 adults. The wife of the bomber said "I was not sad. G-d gave Raed something he always dreamed of. All of his life he dreamed of being a martyr." Shmuel was buried in Jerusalem alongside his mother. The rabbi who officiated at the funeral said of Shmuel: "You will now be an angel who will protect us and strengthen us."
"We are teaching the children that suicide bombs make Israeli people frightened and we are allowed to do it....We teach them that after a person becomes a suicide bomber he reaches the highest level of paradise." -- Palestinian "Paradise Camp" counselor speaking to BBC interviewer
"Every child born into the world is a new thought of G-d, an ever fresh and radiant possibility" -- Kate Douglas Wiggin (American Author)
Noya Zer Aviv was just over one. People that knew her from the kibbutz where she lived with her parents recalled her as a child that had a smile for everyone and knew how to say "this" and "thank you". That smile was cut short on October 4th 2003 as a bomb ripped through the Maxim restaurant in Haifa where she was having lunch with her parents, four year old brother, and grandmother, killing them, and 16 more people. Members of the kibbutz where the family lived watched with horror as the terrible events unfolded on television, recognizing the baby carriage and the bottle. A close family member would say "I'm trying to figure out what kind of suffering we're going to go through in the future, because as time goes by it will be more painful,". Their surviving grandmother could only say; "I don't have any grandchildren left". The bomber who had been a woman, Hanadi Jaradat was praised by her father "I will accept only congratulations for what she did. This was a gift she gave me, the homeland and the Palestinian people."
"We ask that the countries stand by our side. We want them to help us. We only want them to give us weapons. We, on our own -- young boys and girls, will kill them on our own. Murder them, shoot all of them. Just give us weapons, the boys and the girls themselves; we will kill them all. We won't leave a single Jew. We won't leave a single Jew here." -- PA TV, October 22, 2000
"Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world" -- Maria Montessori
Meirav Hatuel was two years old. For all her short life she had known only happiness and joy in the bosom of her closely knit family of doting parents and 3 older siblings. On May 2nd 2004, Meirav was strapped into her car seat and heading out of the Gush Katif settlement in Gaza where she lived, with her mother and three sisters. Two Palestinian gunmen lying in ambush, fired on the white Citroen, causing it to swerve out of control. They then shot Meirav's heavily pregnant mother before turning their guns on the petrified children, shooting each of them at point blank range.
"How sweet is the fragrance of the shahids, how sweet is the scent of the earth, its thirst quenched by the gush of blood, flowing from the youthful body." -- From a music video aired on PA TV depicting the earth thirsting for children's blood
"Children are God's Apostles, sent forth, day by day, to preach of love, and hope and peace" -- James Russell Lowell
Aviel Atiel's mother liked to sing songs to her three year old son when she took him to the kindergarten. Critically injured from the double bus bomb on August 31st 2004 that claimed the lives of 16 people in Beer Sheva, Aviels, mother was painfully unaware as she lay unconscious in a hospital bed that her husband would have to identify her only son's body with the aid of DNA. Aviel was described by a neighbour as a "sweet child" popular with other children and considered by his doting mother, who had married late in life as "a gift from g-d". Later that day celebrations took place in many of the major Palestinian towns. Dozens of gunmen poured into the streets, sweets were handed out and Palestinian children were hoisted jubilantly in the air, waving toy guns.
"O heroes, Allah has promised you victory ... Do not talk yourselves into flight...Your enemies seek life while you seek death. They seek spoils to fill their empty stomachs while you seek a Garden [Paradise] as wide as are the heavens and the earth. Do not be anxious to meet them [enemies], for death is not bitter in the mouth of the believers. These drops of blood that gush from your bodies will be transformed tomorrow into blazing red meteors that will fall down upon the heads of your enemies." -- Reading and Texts Part II, Grade 8 (2002), p. 16 (Palestinian Authority schoolbook written by Fatah educators)
"Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life" -- Sophocles
Avraham Yitzhak Schijveschuurder was a bright four year old, who liked to boast that he knew the entire aleph-bet by heart. Sadly he was never destined to fulfill whatever potential life had to offer him. On August 9th 2001 the little boy was enjoying pizza with his parents and four of his siblings when a bomb ripped through the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem killing Avraham, his parents and two more of his siblings along with 10 more innocent people. His grandmother, a Dutch survivor from Auschwitz had the following poignant words to say at the funeral "I vowed to rebuild my family after the war, and that is what I did. Now for my family, Arafat has finished what Hitler started.
"Interviewer: Mr. President, what message would you like to send to the Palestinian people in general, and, particularly, to the Palestinian children? Arafat: The child who is grasping the stone facing the tank is it not the greatest message to the world when the hero becomes a Shahid [dies for Allah]?" -- Palestinian TV aired the above message from Yasser Arafat on Jan 15, 2002
"There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child." -- Frank A. Clark
Danielle Shefi lived in Adora, a hilltop community close to Hebron and on Saturday morning of April 27th 2002 she was playing, in what many would have considered a safe haven for a little five year old girl; her parents bedroom. At about 9 am two terrorists armed with Kalashnikov and M-16 assault rifles and wearing IDF uniforms broke into several homes in this close knit community. Entering the bedroom, where moment's earlier laughter and fun had filled the air, Danielle's mother summoned enough courage to push them out the door and hide with her three children under the bed. Tragically for Danielle a bullet to her head had already killed her, and the toys they had so happily been playing with lay scattered and covered in blood.
"Daddy brought me a present
A machine gun and a rifle
When I am big I will join the liberation army
The liberation army has taught us
How to liberate our homeland"
-- PA TV, February 26, 2006
"The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things." -- Plato
Matan Ohayon never reached his 6th birthday. He had recently moved to Kibbutz Metzer with his parents and younger brother. Metzer is on a part of the Israeli border so narrow, that the kibbutz is surrounded by Arab villages, even sharing a well and a soccer team. Both little boys had settled well into their new home and were described by kindergarten staff as happy children who enjoyed daily excursions. On the night of November 10th a mother's worse nightmare unfolded when terrorists fired shots outside her home, before pursuing her to her children's bedroom, where in a feeble attempt to protect her little boys they were all shot and killed. Three thousand people attended the funeral as their grief-stricken father watched his family lowered into the ground. A close family member had the following to say of Revital, the boy's mother; "Matan and Noam were always in your arms -- even at the last moment. I'm sure you are the most beautiful angels in heaven".
"Of course shahada (martyrdom) is sweet. We don't want this world, we want the Afterlife. We benefit not from this life but from the Afterlife... Every Palestinian child aged, say 12, says "Oh Lord, I would like to become a shahid." (Martyr) -- Extract from PA TV interview with two 12 year old girls June 2000.
"You will always be your child's favorite toy" -- Vicky Lansky
Noam Leibowitz's father spoke at his seven year old daughter's funeral of her joy for life, ready smiles and the enormous hole her death would leave. On June 17th 2003 Noam, together with eight members of her family were returning from a Bar-Mitzvah celebration in Jerusalem. It was close to midnight and Noam was in fine spirits, singing a song from the 2nd grade graduation party, which she had missed, because of the family trip. At approximately 11.30, their vehicle, traveling on the Trans-Israel highway was sprayed with bullets from a terrorist that had managed to infiltrate under the cement barrier, which separates this stretch of the highway from the Palestinian town of Kalkilya. Noam was killed. She was buried on the day the youth village of Yemin Orde Wingate would have celebrated its 50th anniversary. Both her parents worked there, and the celebrations, including the graduation ceremony were postponed.
"Mother don't cry for me, be joyous over my blood." -- Words from a music video for children, which has been broadcast hundreds of times on PA TV. The above words appear in a farewell letter from a fictional child who seeks martyrdom (shahid).
"Children are the keys of paradise." -- Eric Hoffer
Ilan Perlman, like many eight year old boys was an avid football fan and knew the biographies of all the players of his favourite team Maccabi Haifa by heart. Keen on karate he had recently been declared the national champion in his age group. Ilans' family had emigrated from the Ukraine in 1990. His parents would later divorce and Ilan was virtually raised by his grandmother, so his mother could maintain her job at the supermarket. The pair were virtually inseparable and on morning of November 21st 2002 they had been on their way to school, where Ilan was considered one of the brightest pupils in his class. That morning he never made it and Ilan was buried together with his grandmother. One of her best friends, knowing the special bond between them would say; "Grandma Kira's soul is now watching over her little grandson up there in heaven". Ra'anan Gissin, -- adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would later comment on Israel's security fence which has often come under fire "If anyone had any doubts of the need for the fence, today's crime against humanity speaks louder and better than any deposition,"
Q: "What do women like you tell your children?"
A: "Our message is to educate them to jihad (holy war), which is a sacred duty which cannot be neglected..." -- Excerpts from an interview (2005) with the commander of the women's unit of Hamas's military wing
"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." -- Confucius
"We are nine children without parents. Who will take care of us now?" was the heartfelt plea of the nine orphaned Dickstein children who lost both their parents and nine year old brother Shuv'el in a shooting attack South of Hebron on July 26, 2002. They were on there way to spend Shabbat with friends, when terrorists fired at their car, killing first their mother and Shuv'el. Told by their father to bend down and hide, he was then shot at close range. Shortly before ambushing the Dickstein's the terrorists had shot and killed a 21 year old soldier from the Nahal brigade, Elazar Leibovitz. A passenger who had been traveling in the same vehicle as Elazar tried to warn the Dickstein's but for nine orphaned children it was already too late. Shuv'el was eulogized by his older brother as a "pure child who never hurt anyone. You were smart, you loved to read. You were killed while you were reading and your head fell into the book."
"We must battle until we achieve peace on our own and until our blood will not be spilt for naught, we must battle and die in order to attain all that we want." -- 8-year-old girl Halah Badir, Al-Ayyam, November 2, 2000
"You cannot write for children they're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them." -- Maurice Sendak
Yocheved Shoshan, a pretty 10 year old little girl could have had no idea as she headed down the stairs with her sister Miriam, to buy an extra slice of pizza on that bright summer day of August 9, 2001 that she only had seconds more to live. Shortly before 2 pm a terrorist carrying explosives in a guitar case, walked into the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem and detonated, not only up to 10kgs of explosives, but a bomb packed with nails and shrapnel, to intensify the injuries, killing Yocheved and 14 more people. Her sister was seriously injured in the blast and upon waking in the extensive care department her first question was "Where is my sister Yocheved".
"My purpose is not to be wounded but something more sublime -- martyrdom." -- Ramahan Sahadi Abed Rabbah, age 13, PA paper Al-Hayat, Nov. 8th, 2000
"How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children" -- Charles Darwin
Yael Ohana was 11 on February 6th 2002 and the youngest of four children. She was disabled and needed the constant attention of her mother, a teacher, who was forced to give up her job to devote herself fulltime to her care. She attended the Beit Shean School for the disabled, and teachers described her as a "green-eyed princess who was always interested in how everyone was doing." At 6 pm that evening, gunmen entered the moshav where Yael lived with her family, first killing a reserve soldier before entering the Ohana home, where Yael was at home with her mother. Her brother later spoke of their devotion to each other; "Whoever knew the family wouldn't be surprised that you died together. You were always together, and you left us alone. Yael, you affected us all with your smile of an angel."
Girl: If a boy comes in front of your house, where a tree is planted, and cuts it down, what would you do?
Tarabisho: I have two trees in front of my house.
Girl: If a little boy cuts them down, what will you do to him?
Tarabisho: What will I do to him? I'll fight him and make a big riot! I'll call the whole world and make a riot! I'll bring AK-47s and the whole world. I'll commit a massacre in front of the house.
-- PA TV, October 22, 2004 (Tarabisho is a talking chick puppet, who wears a little black hat)
"No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure." -- Emma Goldman
In March a mother would bury her son, a daughter-in-law and five of her grandchildren. The Nechmad's a very close knit religious family from Rishon Le Zion had just spent the weekend in Jerusalem attending a bar-mitzvah. Shabbat had just ended and families were pouring into the streets from the Mahane Israel yeshiva where the traditional Havdallah ceremony to mark the end of Shabbat was being concluded. Twelve year old Lidor Ilan was already sitting in the family car, listening to music. His little sister Oriah was in his father's arms as he headed for the trunk of the car, asking Lidor to bring him the keys. At that moment an explosion ripped the little girl from his arms. Lidor was buried together with his 18 month old sister.
"We came here to tell the Jews that they must leave our homeland. We want to kill the Jews because they are killing our people every day. Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people and the Jews must go back to where they came from."
"I was happy to leave school on the instructions of President (Yasser) Arafat. Today there is a general strike in Palestine because the Jews are building a wall in our country. We must fight the Jews wherever they are. We want more martyrdom (suicide) operations."
-- Words of two twelve year old Palestinian boys at a protest, referred to as a "Day of Rage," February 2004
"The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yossi Mendellevich never saw the body of his 13 year old son Yuval after he was killed on a bus in Haifa on March 5, 2003. "They didn't show us Yuval, and it was better that way. I want to remember him whole, a handsome boy, like in his pictures." Yuval, a bright boy who loved mathematics and had recently joined a hiking club was on his way home from school, when a suicide bomber boarded his bus and detonated a shrapnel laden bomb. Yuval was in the habit of calling his father everyday on his way home and today his last words before the call was cut off were "I love you, Dad". Yuval together with 14 years old Abigail Leitel who was also killed, had been attending a program at the Jewish-Arab Center for peace to teach tolerance and co-existence. An encounter with Arab youth from a nearby town, which had been scheduled to take place, was dedicated to their memory.
Host: "They [Israelis] accuse the Palestinian mother of hating her sons and of encouraging them to die."
Mother: "No. We do not encourage our sons to die. We encourage them to shahada [death for Allah] for the homeland, for Allah. We don't say to the mothers of the shahids, 'We come to comfort you,' rather, 'We come to bless you on your son's wedding, on your son's shahada. Congratulations to you on the shahada.' For us, the mourning is a wedding. We give out drinks, we give out sweets. Praise to Allah, our mourning is a wedding."
-- PA TV, November 17, 2004
"There is not so much comfort in the having of children as there is sorrow in parting with them" -- Thomas Fuller
On November 21, 2002 Hodaya Asraf boarded the no. 20 bus, just a few meters from her home in the Kiryat Menachem neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The bus had barely reached the next stop before a terrorist, who had boarded the bus with a 5 kilogram explosive belt, packed with shrapnel detonated its deadly contents killing Hodaya and 10 more people. Fifty more people were wounded. Hodaya was a religious girl and a student at the Omanuyot Torah and Arts school for girls. The principle described her as a kind and generous girl, whose mother would call the school every day to make sure her daughter, had arrived safely.
"Even if all the Jews arrived (in Israel) seeking refuge with the monkeys [as Jews are commonly called]... we will never accept compensation for our land. There is no substitute for Jerusalem!... Our death is like life, My homeland is the invaders' grave... I will walk 1000 miles even if I die in it as a Martyr..." -- Part of poem read out by a young girl on Palestinian Children's Day and aired on PA TV April 10, 2006. Her audience, which included PA officials and current PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas applauded.
"When you put faith, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world." -- Zig Ziglar
Seth and Sherri Mandell created the Koby Mandell foundation in response to the brutal murder of their 14 years old son Koby. The foundation's aim is to provide healing programs for families whose lives have been ripped apart by terrorism (www.kobymandell.org). On May 8th 2001, Koby skipped school with his friend Yossi Ish-Ran, to go hiking in the dry riverbed close to their home in Tekoa. The two boys were savagely bludgeoned to death with bowling ball sized rocks in a cave. A dual citizen of both Israel and the USA, he moved to Israel in 1996 and is described glowingly as a boy with intelligence, who loved hiking and telling jokes. Koby, was also the best volley ball player in his class, and can perhaps be best described by a short boy, who wore glasses and spoke in a whisper from his class, who told his parents while they were sitting Shiva of a time when they had to pair up and Koby chose him, "the worst player in the class".
"I will take my soul in my hand and toss it into the abyss of death. And then either life that will gladden friends or death that will anger the enemy. The honorable soul has two objectives; achieving death and honor." -- 'Song of the Shahid, recited by schoolgirls, PA TV, October 27, 2000. The poem has also appeared in 5th, 6th and 12th grade PA schoolbooks
"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives." -- Albert Einstein
Karen Malka Roth was a caring and beautiful 15 year old girl. She was also very musical and had been a gifted flautist. On August 9th 2001 she went to the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem with her best friend Michal Raziel. The void her loss left with her parents is immeasurable. To help with the healing process they set up a website, not only in her honor (www.kerenmalki.org), but also to serve a more practical purpose. Their daughter had been devoted to her severely handicapped younger sister, often helping to take care of her. She had also been a volunteer leader at a youth camp arranged by Etgarim, the Israeli Outdoor and Recreation Association for the Disabled. The website is designed, not only to commemorate and remember the life of their daughter, but to offer practical and financial assistance to any family in Israel, regardless of race or religion, with a severely disabled child at home.
"I don't want to die. I don't want to blow up." -- Hussam Abdo, a 15 Year old Palestinian boy found carrying an 8 kilogram vest bomb packed with bolts and screws. He was intercepted and the bomb was successfully detonated at an Israeli Checkpoint, with no casualties, on March 24, 2004. Described as a mentally challenged boy with the intelligence of a 12 year old, he was quoted as saying "Blowing myself up is the only chance I've got to have sex with 72 virgins in the Garden of Eden".
"Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?" -- Anne Frank
Sixteen year old Anya Kazachkov was a talented artist, and her drawings now decorate the wall of her former school. The principal says they will remain there as a memorial. Anya was sadly not destined to fulfill any of her ambitions in life, which according to her mother were those of any young girl with her whole life ahead of her, to serve in the army, to study and one day get married. Shortly before midnight on the 1st June 2001, Anya stood outside a beachfront disco in Tel Aviv waiting for the doors to open. Tragically for Anya, a 22 year old Jordanian, Sa'id Hotari, who had been living in the Palestinian town of Kalkiliya would soon detonate a bomb, wiping out her life and 20 other youngsters, 17 of them teenagers. Sa'id's father was quoted as saying of his son; "I am very happy and proud of what my son did and frankly, am a bit jealous...I wish I had done it myself".
"It's immoral to send someone so young. They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds." -- Mrs. Al-Far, mother of Amar Al-Far aged 16 who detonated a bomb at a Tel Aviv market killing 3 people on 1st November 2004.
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." -- Pablo Picasso
Asaf Zur, nicknamed "Blondi" was a charming, outgoing boy of seventeen. His tombstone is shaped in the shape of a surf board to honour his love of the sport, and has the following words engraved on the back; "O God, keep not Thou silence; hold not Thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, Thine enemies are in an uproar; and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head". Asaf was on his way home from school with his girlfriend, who kissed him goodbye and got off the bus three stops before a bomb, powerful enough to blow off the bus roof, uproot trees and shatter windows in nearby apartments killed Asaf and 16 others, many of them school children. A memorial site is now dedicated to Asaf (www.blondi.co.il). On April 27th of this year Asaf would have turned 21. Like many young Israelis he would have certainly been contemplating a trip to South America, or maybe the Far East. To commemorate his birthday and to bring a world that Asaf would sadly never see, a request was made by his family to send stones/rocks from around the world, thereby bringing a world he would never see to him, and honouring the sacred tradition of placing rocks on a grave.
"Saraa': "Yes, our children friends, we lost our dearest friend, Farfur. Farfur turned to a Martyr while protecting his land. He turned into a Martyr at the hands of the criminals, and murderers. The murderers of the innocent children... [Talking to a child caller] You saw that the Jews let Farfur die as a Martyr. What do you want to say to the Jews?"
Shaimaa', 3 years old, on the phone: "We don't like the Jews because they are dogs! We will fight them!"
Saraa' [sarcastically]: "No, the Jews are good, oh Shaimaa'. The Jews are our friends, and we play with them, isn't it so?"
Shaimaa': "They killed Farfur!"
Saraa': "That's right, oh Shaimaa'. The Jews are criminals and enemies, we must expel them from our land."
-- Hamas, Al-Aqsa TV June 27, 2007, the final episode and death of Farfur the Micky Mouse look alike used on PA TV.
"I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." -- Isaac Newton
On February 22nd 2004 the School Principle of Jerusalem's Gymnasia Rehavia had the painful task of breaking some dreadful news to the students in the school hall. Many of them broke down upon hearing of the death of 18 year old Lior Azulai. He had been on his way to school on the 14A bus that morning, when a terrorist boarded the packed bus at about 8.30 carrying his deadly load in a backpack, killing Lior and seven more people. In four months time Lior would have finished his studies and had been looking forward to going into the army and serving in a combat unit. He was, according to the Principle an outstanding pupil, playing in the soccer team and well liked by everyone. Later in the day pupils prepared a memorial to Lior in the foyer. It showed a picture of a robust and smiling teenager surrounded by candles lit in his memory. The Principle would later note that "All the 12th graders wept together".
"Shahad:, 9 years old, on the phone:
Saraa': What would you like to share with us?
Shahad: The Noble Hadith.
Saraa': Go on.
Shahad: The Prophet [Muhammad] said: The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until you fight the Jews, they will be east of the river and you to the west, and the rock and the tree will say: Oh, Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and fight him!
Saraa': Thank you very much, Shahad"
-- Al Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 6, 2007
"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children."
-- Sitting Bull
"Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future" said President Kennedy. What possible future can these demonized Palestinian children have, growing up with an ideology of intolerance and hatred that steals their future, and worse still has already stolen the future of more than 100 Israeli children.
From the womb to an early tomb, Yasser Arafat once said his best weapon was "the Palestinian mother's womb".
But the last words should belong to Golda Meir who aptly said: "Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us."
This article was submitted July 15, 2007.
Angela Bertz is a freelance writer. She made aliyah in the 1980s, coming from London, England. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was submitted July 15, 2007.
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