A voice for our children
By Rolene Marks
The summer school holidays in Israel should be a time of lazy morning lie-ins, fun with friends and driving parents crazy trying to find activities for their children to do.
For sweet Hallel Yaffa Ariel, asleep in her bed, this was not the case. Last week her safe sanctuary, the one place that was sacred, was brutally invaded when a 17 year old terrorist broke into her room and stabbed her multiple times. She passed away from her wounds. Hallel was just 13 years old.
Raised on a steady diet of hate, from breast to school, her murderer was glorified as a martyr by his mother who celebrated his act of terror. “My son is a hero. He made me proud. My son died as a Martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. …Allah willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine. Allah be praised.” What kind of society is this that a mother encourages her son to die, preferably killing a Jew in the process? This is not symptomatic of being deprived, it is depraved!
Another family decimated, plunged into mourning for a child gone too soon. A little girl who will never become a woman, bear children of her own, manifest her joy by dancing. Hallel had performed in a dance recital the night before she was killed.
When will it end? When will there be a time when Israeli parents don’t eulogize and say kaddish over the graves of their children?
Israel’s most vulnerable, her children are a target. There is no sanctity amongst terrorists for young lives. What can you expect from those who hide weapons in schools and use their own children as human shields?
This weekend, terrorists fired rockets from Gaza, hitting a family therapeutic centre in Sderot. This is particularly personal as it hit one of our beautiful WIZO facilities, a place where children feel safe and secure. Thank G-d for the miracle that the centre was closed and nobody was hurt. Buildings can be repaired but lives can never be replaced.
Sderot is the most bunkered town in the world with bomb shelters every couple of metres for the safety of its citizens. As you read this, please try to imagine what life has been like for the citizens of Sderot who do not know what it is like to live without the firing of rockets onto their town. The warning “Tzeva Adom” (code red) is as part of their lives as going to school or work. Imagine what it is like to have 15 seconds to find shelter, to live your life in increments of 15 seconds.
WIZO works tirelessly to help Israel’s citizens and was the first to build a completely rocket proof daycare centre in Sderot. The wellbeing of children in all of our facilities is of paramount importance and we work very hard to ensure their emotional and physical safety. For children to be fired upon so indiscriminately because they are Jewish (by the way we have children from all sectors of Israeli society in our facilities!) is unconscionable. This centre, provided much appreciated therapy and coping skills for parents and children in Sderot who live with the constant trauma of rockets and mortars.
What chance is there for peace when Palestinian children are raised on hate and martyrdom from the incitement of their leaders, teachers and even their parents? This is flagrant child abuse and I am bewildered at the silence of the world that is indifferent. If there is to be peace, children should have the benefit of being taught that they can be doctors, lawyers, teachers, dancers and nation builders!
Stabbing sleeping children asleep in their beds or firing on day care centres is NOT an act of resistance – it is barbarity, pure and simple.
I write this on the day where the Jewish world and indeed humanity, has lost one of our most beloved sons. Elie Wiesel z”l, a gentle, humble and wise soul, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, who passed away at 87. He was a voice for the voiceless 6 million. His legacy was to bring light to a world of darkness, to bear witness and give a voice to those who are suffering around the world. As he is welcomed back into the bosom of his family who perished during the Holocaust, let us learn from one of his most famous quotes “the opposite of love is not hate – it is indifference”.
My appeal to everyone who reads this blog is to please speak up for our children. Help us tell the world what the media will not – tell the stories of Hallel, of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali and of the children who are in the sights of rockets fired on their schools. If we do not give our children a voice, who will? Let us not be indifferent.
All one has to do is watch the documentary film, The Long Way Home, 1997, which shows how for 3 years survivors lingered in conditions similar to the Nazi's concentration camps, in barracks surrounded by barbed wire. Conditions in DP camps were deplorable. Hygiene was non-existent and morale was extremely low. The world simply wanted to forget that the Jewish survivors were still among the living. No country wanted them. Jews around the world rallied in an attempt to reestablish a Jewish state. The first Jewish survivors who returned homeland, to Poland, were murdered, in the Kielce Pogrom. My mother and her sister, Pola, with whom she survived Russia and Uzbekistan, were separated on their return to Poland in the summer of 1946. Pola's train ended up in Germany, in a German DP camp and lived in such conditions from June 1946 till 1951, when she finally arrived in NYC.
Rolene Marks is a passionate advocate for Israel and appears on radio, television and has been published in numerous global publications. Rolene is a member of the Media Team Israel, an advocacy body that fights media bias as well as Truth be Told.