Friday, December 03, 2004

Amidst all the ( understandable and justified ) consternation regarding the photo of the Palestinian fiddler at the army checkpoint, we tend to forget one side of the story. In today's Ha'Aretz I read a very moving and highly convincing letter to the editor, written by a father (*) whose daughter was murdered by explosives undetected at some army checkpoint: Regarding "Soldiers force Palestinian to play violin at West Bank checkpoint," November 25 Your article and accompanying photo regarding the Israeli soldier who demanded that a Palestinian "youth" at a checkpoint play his violin omitted the following relevant details. On August 9, 2001, another Palestinian "youth," this one the son of a well-to-do restaurant owner from Jenin, managed to slip through a checkpoint on the border of West Jerusalem and stroll to the city center with a guitar slung over his shoulder. He entered the Sbarro pizzeria and saw a room crowded mostly with children out for a light lunch. Then, with the explosives hidden in his guitar, he murdered 15 Israelis in cold blood. Among those victims was my daughter, Malki, and her friend - two sweet 15-year-old girls with hearts of gold. There are many more stories of eternal pain wrought by that guitar. To ignore the context of those searches at the checkpoints - four years of barbaric terror attacks on innocent Israelis - is dishonest. But in this case, what exactly is MachsomWatch criticizing? The soldiers in Horit Herman-Peled's photo, which Haaretz chose to print, not once but twice in one issue, do not appear to be gloating or enjoying the Palestinian's music. Rather, they seem intent on confirming, without dismantling and damaging it, that this was indeed nothing more than a violin. The fact that an army spokesperson apologized for the soldier's conduct without mentioning the above facts is disconcerting. It highlights the destructive pressure that MachsomWatch is exerting on the people entrusted with defending us and our children. One day, an uncertain soldier at a checkpoint may be forced to make a split-second choice between inconveniencing a Palestinian and being thorough. The intimidating presence of someone like Herman-Peled on the scene may push him to err on the side of leniency toward another Palestinian like my Malki's murderer. Frimet Roth Jerusalem
(*) PS: Why I automatically supposed that the author is Malki's father I do not know. Lila, of Letters from Rungholt, corrects me ( without specifically saying so ) and writes about "Malki's mother". She also writes some more about the many 'twines of sorrow' in the fiddler affair. I underwrite her 'conclusion': "...the discourse in Israel is self-critical and still deals with moral points of view - something of which I am proud. The army responds. Moral self-control functions. In spite of everything."

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