National unity: President Shimon Peres paid a mutually honorable condolence call to the parents and daughter of Udi and Ruth Fogel.
Though the parents of Ruth Fogel, Rabbi and Mrs. Yehuda Ben-Yishai of Jerusalem, those of her husband Udi, Chaim and Tzila Fogel of N’veh Tzuf, as well as 12-year-old orphan Tamar, arose from their week of mourning a week ago, President Shimon Peres arrived this morning at the Ben-Yishai home to pay a condolence call.
In addition to Udi and Ruth, three of their children – Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, 3 months – were also stabbed to death by one or more Palestinian Authority terrorists.
“What happened in Itamar,” Peres told the families, “turned us all into one family in our hearts and souls. It is my job to represent not only the State, but also the nation. I feel at home here, and I know how hard it is for you and how meaningless is the comfort that I can offer you. The only thing I can offer, in my position, is the expression of our nation’s thanks. We are proud of your education, dedication and truth. I see the deep and serious investment you make in your children, and this is the strength of the Jewish People.”
Chaim Fogel, Udi’s father, said, “We educated our children based on the values of love of Torah, public spirit, and derech eretz [broadly translated as “acting with consideration and kindness”]. But we notice the phenomenon of extraordinary hatred on the part of the other side [the Palestinian Authority]; I’m not talking politically, but rather in terms of education. When they teach hatred in their schools, this is the result. They murdered our children in an animal-like manner, but they are not animals; they are people who learned hatred.”
Rabbi Ben-Yishai told the President, “It is well-known that you have many merits [in building and defending the State of] Israel, some of which are still secret. This gives you a special position of strength. No one can know what lies ahead of us. But what bothers us is our national standing power; if it is strong, we will be able to meet the challenges.”
“I appreciated what you said,” Ben-Yishai continued, “in that you respect us even if sometimes you do not agree with our approach – and it is mutual. After this terrible calamity, we received many letters, and we felt the nation’s warm embrace and deep national solidarity.”
“I am full of respect and admiration,” Peres said, “for both of your families that raised such beautiful and praiseworthy children and grandchildren. But at the same time I feel deep sorrow. I know that there is no consolation in light of this catastrophe; there is no consolation in the face of child-murderers. But even this murder does not weaken us from acting on behalf of Israel’s strength and security.”
Political issues were not raised during the visit – as opposed to when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came at the beginning of the week of mourning; when Netanyahu said, “We are not stupid, we know who we are dealing with,” one of the surviving children, a 7-year-old boy, said bitterly, “What will happen if [you do something?], America will do something to you?”
Days later, in a television interview, 12-year-old Tamar said that Netanyahu had said, “They murder us and we build. We build. … So I told him, ‘But then afterwards you expel people [from their homes in Judea and Samaria]… At the shiva [mourning], you say, ‘We will keep on building and expanding’ and all that. But the fact is that in reality they are expelling people from their homes all the time. And during the expulsions, it’s not just expelling people from their homes, [it also causes] a war between brothers…”