For the first time ever, in a book, depictions of the victims of Islamist hatred. Young and old, men and women. Struck down in a bus, at a bar, at the market. Killed solely for the "fault" of being Jewish
by Sandro Magister
ROME, November 7, 2009 Today Jews all over the world are commemorating their martyrs of the "Night of Broken Glass," the victims of the Nazi pogrom on the night of November 9-10, 1938, in Germany.
There is universal, mournful observance of that massacre and of the tremendous extermination of Jews by the Reich that came after it.
But the same is not done, in Europe and the West, for the many other Jewish victims who for years have been killed in Israel, assailed by Islamic terrorism.
Every time one of them is killed, it is covered in the news and then immediately ignored. The victim ends up buried in the vagueness of the "Palestinian question," viewed by many as Israel's "fault."
Meanwhile, one out of every three hundred Israeli families has been directly affected by an attack. The terrorist actions number in the thousands. More than 150 suicide attacks have been carried out, and for each of these the Israeli police estimate that they have prevented nine more. 1,723 people have been killed to date, 378 of them women. More than ten thousand have been injured.
The indifference of the West and of Christians in the face of this steady stream of victims, struck systematically in the midst of their daily routine, on the buses, in the cafes, in the markets, at home, now has a response in a book that recounts their stories for the first time. It finally tells us who they are.
The book was published a month ago in Italy, and translations will soon be published in New York and London. Its title is "Non smetteremo di danzare [We will not stop dancing]." And the subtitle: "Le storie mai raccontate dei martiri di Israele [The untold stories of Israel's martyrs]."
His most recent book opens with a preface by English philosopher Roger Scruton, and with a letter by Robert Redeker, the French writer who has been living in a secret location since he began receiving death threats from Islamist fanatics.
The following is an extract from the first chapter.
The unsung dead of Israel
by Giulio Meotti
From "Non smetteremo di danzare," pp. 26-36
Why this book? Because before it there was not even one presentation of the story of Israel's dead. It was written without any prejudice against the Palestinians, it is an account motivated by love for a great people and its marvelous and tragic adventure in the heart of the Middle East and through the whole twentieth century. Every effort to exterminate an entire class of human beings, from Srebrenica to Rwanda, has been commemorated in some great story. This does not seem to be allowed for Israel; history has always been scrubbed quickly of the blood of Jews. Jews killed because they were Jews, whose stories have been swallowed up in the disgusting and amoral equating of Israelis and Palestinians, which explains nothing about that conflict and even blurs it to the point of disappearing. This book is intended to rescue from oblivion this vast reserve of suffering, to elicit respect for the dead and love of the living. [...]
The most beautiful gift in these four years of research was given to me by the Israelis who opened their grief-stricken world to my request for help, laying their sufferings bare. It was me knocking at the door, a stranger, a non-Jew, a foreigner. But they all shook my hand and spoke about their loved ones for the first time. [...]
I decided to tell some of the great Israeli stories full of idealism, suffering, sacrifice, chance, love, fear, faith, freedom and the hope that, in spite of all this silence, Israel will triumph in the end. [...] There are incredible people like the obstetrician Tzofia, who lost her father, a rabbi, her mother, and her little brother. Today she helps Arab women give birth to their children. [...] There's Torah copyist Yitro, who converted to Judaism and whose son was kidnapped and executed by Hamas. There's Elisheva, from a family of farming settlers who lost them all in Auschwitz, and whose daughter, nine months pregnant, was killed by remorseless terrorists because "she wanted to live the Jewish ideal." In Tzipi they stabbed the chief rabbi to death, and where his bedroom used to be there is now an important religious school. Ruti's husband and David's brother was a great humanist doctor who cared for everyone, Arabs and Jews. There's the rabbi Elyashiv, whose son, a seminarian, was taken from him, but who continues to believe that "everything in life makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker." Then there's Sheila, who always talks about the coming of the Messiah and about how her husband took care of Down's children. Menashe lost his father, mother, brother, and grandfather in a night of terror, but continues to believe in the right to live where Abraham pitched his tent. [...] Elaine lost a son during dinner on the shabath, and for more than a year was not able to cook or make any sound. There are the friends of Ro'i Klein, a human shield who leapt onto a mine reciting the Shema' Yisrael, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Yehudit lost her daughter too soon, coming back from a wedding together with her husband. From Uri, who made the alyah from France, they took his daughter as well, a volunteer working with the poor.
Orly lived a happy life in a trailer, but her son didn't have time to put his kippah back on his head before he was killed. There's Tehila, one of those God-fearing but modern women who populate the settlements, the wife of an idealist who "lived the land," who loved the pink and blue plumage of Samaria's flowers. [...] There's also the marvelous Yossi, whose son sacrificed his own life in order to save his friends, and every Friday went to give out religious gifts to passers-by. Rina had created a pearl in the Egyptian desert, she thought of herself as a pioneer. She had her son taken from her, together with his pregnant wife. [...] There's Chaya, who embraced Judaism together with her husband. For them, conversion "was like marrying God." [...] All of these stories speak to us of this nation that is unique in the world, born from the 19th-century philosophy of secular Zionism, which from the ashes of the Holocaust brought back to their ancient homeland a people in exile for two thousand years and cut down to less than half its prewar size. Stories that speak to us of courage, desperation, faith, of the defense of hearth and home, even if errors are sometimes made, of the preservation of "honorable warfare" in the only army that permits disobeying an inhumane order. [...]
The story of these Jewish victims is not only a story of heroes. They are almost always defenseless people. [...] The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, the most important center for analysis in Israel, has calculated that only 25 percent of the Israeli victims were soldiers. The majority were and are Jews in civilian dress. Among the Israelis, 40 percent of all the victims are women. Europeans believe that Israel is the stronger side, the country and military with the control of the territory, the technology, the money, the knowledge base, the capacity to use force, the friendship and alliance with the United States. And before it stands the pitiful weakness of a people claiming its rights, and ready for martyrdom in order to obtain them. But this is not the case. The stories of these new unsung victims proves it.
The Israelis have shown that they love life more than they fear death. The terrorists have killed hundreds of teachers and students, but the schools have never closed. They have killed doctors and patients, but the hospitals have continued to function. They have massacred soldiers and policemen, but the list of those who volunteer has never shrunk. They have shot up buses of the faithful, but the pilgrims continue to arrive in Judea and Samaria. They have made massacres at weddings, and forced young people to wed in underground bunkers. But life has always won over death. Like at Irit Rahamin's bachelorette party at the Sea Market Restaurant in Tel Aviv. When the terrorist began to shoot and throw grenades into the crowd, Irit threw herself to the ground, and from under the table called her future husband and told him that she loved him. Amid the screams. And the dying.
Giulio Meotti, "Non smetteremo di danzare. Le storie mai raccontate dei martiri di Israele", Lindau, Torino, 2009, pp. 360, euro 24.00.