Op-Ed: Mr. Peres, How Many Lives Did You Cost Israel?
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
For many years, since the Oslo Accords, Israel became self-hypnotized with the fable of a pacified, normalized, territorially integrated post-Zionist society. The dream of peace seemed close at hand, but then collapsed miserably under Islamic genocidal belligerence—a new, potentially fatal chapter in the story of the Jewish people.
If there is one Israeli leader who bears responsibility for this self inflicted tragedy, it is President Shimon Peres, the architect of a deadly "dream", the man who opposed Israel's going into Jenin in 2002, who opposed killing Yassin in 2004, who opposed bombing Iraq's nuclear facility in 1981, but most important the man who has 2,000 murdered Jews on his conscience.
Mr. Peres, you just hosted dozens of celebrities and useful idiots in Israel for your 90th birthday. I will not be generous like they were. I will remind you and your people why your name will be linked forever to a bloody heritage. And I will not mention the carnage "the settlers" or the ultra orthodox Jews you despise had to pay. I will remind you of a few dates from within the pre 1967 lines, and also some of the secular Israeli victims. Just to let you feel more at home.
It began on October 1994, when Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv was turned into a ribbon of horror. A bus full of poor devout Jews, Russians or Ethiopians who could not afford a car, became a smoking wreck dripping with blood, scattering gray matter on the windows of the homes nearby, leaving a hand lodged in the branches of a tree. There were clumps of long black hair smeared with diesel oil and studded with bits of glass.
Noam Semel, director of the nearby Cameri Theater, heard the explosion and ran down the block to the scene. “I had a feeling that no one was alive. There was smoke and bodies—no screams, no panic, just silence.” Pieces of human flesh landed on terraces and in trees. A hairdresser who had taken the bus to work and suffered blast injuries to her chest and back remembered “a woman without a face.” A plaque hanging on a tree at the Dizengoff bombing site today says: “At this spot, murderers took the lives of twenty-two victims. Their memory will stand forever.”
In March1996, another suicide bomber blew himself up on a crosswalk outside the Dizengoff Center, surrounded by dozens of people including children in costume for a carnival. On the asphalt were the pulverized remains of a baby stroller. The intersection was covered with mutilated corpses, some of them on fire. In the air was the acrid odor of burned flesh and hair. All the advertising billboards were shredded—Benetton, Sbarro, the guitar of the Hard Rock Cafe—modern icons shattered by totalitarian hatred. At the moment of the explosion, the movie theaters, restaurants, and boutiques were all crowded. One woman screamed, “They’re slaying us all! In a year there won’t be a State of Israel anymore.”
Working his way to a blood stain on the ceiling of Bank Leumi, a volunteer takes out a wad of cotton and delicately mops it up. The Alitalia office on the fourth floor is also devastated. “Only seven bodies have been identified. How will names be matched to the others? They have been reduced to a piteous state,” say the devout emergency responders, who make the rounds like compassionate peacemakers, salvaging the wreckage. They are the guardians of fragments that may be insignificant in our eyes, but will mean everything to those who want to mourn one of the victims. A teenage boy, helped by his parents, climbs to the top of a tree, its bark and leaves burned by the explosion, and places a bouquet of flowers between two bare branches. At the foot of the tree, a mute witness to the horror, people light dozens of candles.
Dana Gutman, aged fourteen, had come to Tel Aviv with three friends for a day of fun. Three of them were killed. They were always explaining to their friends how important the peace process was. Bat-Hen Shahak, fifteen, dressed up for Purim in her mother’s wedding dress. At lunchtime, she called home and asked her father for permission to stay a few more hours. Later that day, he identified Bat-Hen’s body at the forensic institute.
Leah Mizrahi, sixty-one, had gone to Dizengoff Center to buy a present for a bar mitzvah.
Dan Tversky, fifty-eight, was an economics editor at the liberal newspaper Ha’aretz.
Tali Gordon, twenty-five, was politically active in support of the peace process.
Mr. Peres, do you remember the words "anush" (serious), "benonì" (moderate), and "kal" (light)? This is how, during the Oslo war, the injured Israelis were classified at the hospitals. Many children had their faces burned or their hands rendered useless; some had their sight ruined forever. There are trembling elderly people, totally dependent. There are people who went insane and don’t want to live anymore because they are haunted by the sound of the explosion, and they seclude themselves in their homes.
Mr. Peres, do you remember in 1997 when a suicide bomber blew himself up amid the tables at Cafe Apropos in Tel Aviv? A twenty-eight-year-old Palestinian walked into the cafe but couldn’t find an empty table inside, so the waitress showed him to a place on the terrace. Beneath his shirt he wore a belt, eight inches wide, with six loops for the six sticks of dynamite. A wire was threaded through his pants to the control switch. Moments after he sat down, he pushed the button to detonate the bomb. Three women were killed. One image was replayed again and again on television: a distraught policewoman cradling an injured baby outside the ravaged cafe. She was six months old and her mother had died in the explosion. The white umbrellas were covered with blood and bits of brain.
Mr. Peres, I can go on with this sad narrative forever. You know that you and your failed leadership bear political, moral and military responsibility for all these slaughtered Jews, sacrifices to your delusional Oslo. Mr. Peres, the only good thing about your "dream" was that it once and for all proved that land for peace is a lie. A deadly lie. A death leap.
Mr. Peres, you have been proven absolutely wrong by the hundreds of bodies of dead Jews.
It is a travesty that the post-Holocaust Jewish people had to pay such a price because of you. I will continue to remind you.