Thursday, July 18, 2013

18-Jul-13: Memory, honor, shame: this is how it works

Our daughter Malki
We have long assumed no one comes to this blog unless they want to know how we feel about things. So we permit ourselves without too much apology to express personal reflections here on life through the prism of our personal experiences, particularly the experience of losing a child to an act of barbarism, and all that has followed. (That's our daughter Malki's image at the top of this post. She was a talented flautist. In the photo, she is playing music while on the bus. This photo is from April 2001. She was killed 4 months later.)

That's why we wrote here ["15-Jul-13: Summer reveries don't have quite the same golden gentle glow for us as they do for others"] a couple of days ago about things that might seem only distantly connected, if at all, to events in the war against the terrorists. But in reality, we think the way you look at memories and, in a way, at history, is highly influential on what you do when confronted with terrorism. And since we think almost everyone everywhere is confronted with terrorism and in rising measure, even while they themselves might not see it that way, the issue of memory seems to us more than just important. It's a defining characteristic of societies and political leadership. 

Yesterday, as that post of ours from July 15 noted, was the day our murdered daughter's life is remembered each year here in the Jerusalem community where we live. (Not the annual graveside service - that's going to happen on July 28.) It's a peer event: the teenagers who were Malki's social circle started it eleven years ago, a year after her brutal murder in a Hamas attack. And each year, the cohort that comes after the one before - always 16 and 17 year olds, always from here in the 'hood or from the social circle made up by members of the Ezra youth organization which was such a large part of Malki's life - continue it. 

Here are several snapshots we took at the two charity bazaars yesterday, both in memory of what Hamas and its henchmen executed twelve years ago. One lovely event was here in Jerusalem where we live; the other further away on Jerusalem's eastern edge, in Maale Adumim where our daughter Malki served as a group leader in 2000-2001 and where she is still very fondly remembered.
The memorial charity bazaar in Maale Adumim: A quiet corner
for reading some posted bio notes about the life of a child stolen by the terrorists
Maale Adumim: Youngsters from throughout the city gathered
yesterday for a hot afternoon of fun and charitable work
At yesterday's Jerusalem charity bazaar, a popular music band, vendor stalls
and mingling set the tone, well into the evening
At the Jerusalem event, a quiet corner for reflecting on the lives
of two precious girls, murdered in the name of someone else's jihadist zeal
As it happens, we were not alone yesterday in expressing our remembrances and respect for lives ended. This is from today's Jerusalem Post.
PA holds military funeral for former Fatah terrorist who murdered 14, injured 60 KHALED ABU TOAMEH | Jerusalem Post | 07/18/2013 | The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday held a military funeral for Ahmed Abu al-Sukkar, a former Fatah prisoner who was involved in the 1975 “refrigerator bombing” in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. Fourteen people were killed and more than 60 injured in the terror attack. The 78-year-old Abu al-Sukkar died of a heart attack on Tuesday night. Draped in a Palestinian flag, his coffin was placed on a PA military vehicle, which transferred him from hospital to the center of Ramallah. From there, Abu al-Sukkar’s coffin was taken for burial in his hometown of Turmus Aiya north of Ramallah. PA President Mahmoud Abbas published a statement mourning the death of Abu al- Sukkar, whom he described as a faithful struggler for freedom and the Palestinian cause. Abbas said that Abu al-Sukkar had devoted many years to serving the interests of his people. At the funeral, one of Abbas’s top aides, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, said that, “Palestine has lost a great leader and fighter who spent his life in Israeli prisons.” Abu al-Sukkar was sentenced to life in prison and an additional 30 years for his role in the terror attack. He was released in 2003 after spending 28 years behind bars. The terror attack took place on July 4, 1975, when an explosive device hidden within a refrigerator exploded in the bustling Zion Square.
Abu al-Sukkar on the day he was released
from Israeli prison
What's notable here is that Palestinian Arab society and the mis-labelled 'moderate' who stands at the head of one of its two statelets, sees enduring significance in a life just ended because of its singular achievements: an act of calculated murder, followed by 28 years in the enemy's prison. This, for them and their values, amounts to a moment to preserve.

Our daughter, unlike this murderer they call Sucker, was never able to devote many years to serving the interests of her people. She had only a few. The people she served were disabled children struggling to hold on to some enjoyment in a life beset with challenges. To be clear: even if we could, we would not have wished to see Malki conveyed to her final resting place in the hills of Jerusalem on the tray of a military vehicle. And when politicians asked to speak at her funeral, they were firmly told no.

In the end, whose life is likely to be remembered longer, and which will have the more enduring impact on the lives of those who remember?

If you believe the answer is clear, then we want you to know we are not at all sure. The memory of the deceased man, Sucker, is bound to serve as an inspiration for countless other subjects of the Abbas regime in coming years. Until the obsessive hatred-based campaigning of the PA - and of course of the jihadists of Hamas - is blunted, there will be streams of young Palestinian Arabs seeking to adopt the message of yesterday's ceremonial event in Ramallah and explode refrigerators of their own. The pro-terror message from their leaders could hardly be clearer.

But even if Mahmoud Abbas and his words of inspiration, calling yesterday to the continuing generation of Palestinian Arabs to seek out Jewish victims of their own, sticks in the collective memory of his people longer and more effectively than Malki's memory does on our side of the fence, this much remains clear. People of conscience, decency and goodwill - people with a genuine passion for peace, tolerance, co-existence and life - will prefer to remember the children on our side who hold charity bazaars and musical concerts to honour the memory of those whom they seek to emulate.

From here in Jerusalem, we have no doubt at all about which of the two sides honours its living and its dead, and which side disgraces them.

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